On the weekends of October 22-23 and 29-30, Geoff Alexander presents a one-hour long program of rarely-seen, short-format 16mm films from the collection of his space, cine16. Alexander describes cine16 as “a weekly cinema held in a basement ‘speakeasy’ in San Jose, California, with programs that focus on the history of the North American educationalfilm. Privately funded, cine16 charges no admission, and accepts no donations.” He considers it “a research project, essentially a laboratory whose findings are shown to cinema fans.” Alexander is currently writing the first history of educational film in North America, which is anticipated to be released in late 2000.
Alexander’s interest in such films has its origins in his own work years ago, as a teacher for students with special educational requirements. While presenting these students the many films he found available in school libraries, he began to consider the characteristics related to their production and reception: what would for him raise some of the material above the categories generally ‘anonymous’ production status; what kind of audience interaction occurs with projecting and viewing these films in and out of their institutional setting. Alexander’s interests brought him to start searching out long-forgotten directors, and compiling research notes. The chance to begin a collection came with the public libraries shift to video, as they began throwing away their 16mm films.
As audiovisual educational media had an emphasised role in postwar American society, it became part of the memories and cognitive experiences linked to a notion of American education. It also embodied how education was to further on become inter-twined with media. Until the late ’80s video economy, several generations would grow up with the short, 16mm educational film projection as the sole purveyor of possible media windows in the classroom. In North America the educational film mandate production keyword was ‘public’. Distribution was offered through schools and films free to rent from libraries.
cine16 as a concept represents how media production became linked to a public as part of the notion of everyday, production of space. He regards the event as important as the material. Before finding the rooms that would allow a screening once a week, his audience of students and public were often introduced to films projected outside on a neighboring building.
Alexander is decidely not operating as an artist nor as sociologist, but introduced cine16 as a type of creative narrative for the public, where the choice of older educational films are the medium. It is a choice and approach that clearly belongs to generation orientating the shift from postwar television to computer media generations, marking off the transition in formats, seeing program and place as one. Placing all program notes over the website www.afana.org, Alexander sets up a communication form, with the educational films seemingly reflecting on themselves, and the cine16 event public noting what occurs in link with these films projection specifically outside of their initial educational framework. Alexander’s descriptions and approach emphasise his subjective take on these films, but he draws a line between avoiding critical interpretation as well as simple fascination in order to bring a public to share first of all his engagement with a form of production. But which production – the original 16mm films or the space? The production is open to experience on October 22, 23 and 29, 30 on the 4th floor of Reuchlinstr.4b. Admission 5.-DM , members free.
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