Madeline Anderson in Conversation with Orlando Bagwell

Filmmakers & Critics in Conversation

November 17–November 18, 2016
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

In November 2016 BAMPFA hosted two important evenings of screenings and conversations with filmmaker Madeline Anderson. The post screening conversations were recorded for FQ by Emiko Omori. The videos feature Madeline Anderson in conversation with Orlando Bagwell, the former Director of the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

From the BAMPFA catalog: Award-winning filmmaker, producer, editor, and educator Madeline Anderson was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1992. A regular filmgoer from childhood, Anderson recognized early on the potential of the medium to educate and inform. With exceptional determination, Anderson endeavored to tell the stories of people who were not represented in the films she was seeing. As she realized her vision she broke down barriers of race and gender at every turn. In 1960, encouraged by an early mentor—documentary filmmaker Richard Leacock—she produced and directed her first film, Integration Report 1. That work, a wide-ranging look at the civil rights movement, exemplifies the clarity, economy of means, and political significance that would become the hallmarks of her career. Anderson was assistant director and editor on Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World before becoming the first black employee at the television station NET (later WNET). She worked with William Greaves on the renowned NET series Black Journal, where she produced and directed A Tribute to Malcolm X. Anderson left the program to make what has become her best-known film, I Am Somebody, a documentary about the 1969 hospital workers’ strike in Charleston, South Carolina.

I Am Somebody: Three Documentaries by Madeline Anderson
Thursday, November 17, 2016

BAMPFA program notes: A cinematic snapshot of the civil rights movement across the United States in 1960, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Brooklyn, Integration Report 1 includes speeches from many leaders of the movement. A Tribute to Malcolm X (1967) combines archival footage of the civil rights leader with an interview with his widow, Betty Shabazz. I Am Somebody documents the 1969 strike of black hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina, over the course of which more than a thousand strikers, students, and civil rights activists were jailed. All but twelve of the 400 strikers were women, and Anderson tells the story from a distinctly feminist point of view.

The Cool World (Shirley Clarke, 1963)
Friday, November 18, 2016

BAMPFA program notes: Fiction shot in the style of cinema vérité, The Cool World depicts one Harlem youth’s quest to own a gun in order to gain the respect of his peers. Madeline Anderson was the film’s assistant director and editor.

FQ thanks Emiko Omori for recording and editing these important conversations, and BAMPFA and Kate MacKay, the PFA’s Associate FilmCurator, for organizing this program. 

Header image: Hospital workers striking in Madeline Anderson’s I Am Somebody.   You can stream this film in its entirety here.