One of the landmarks of independent film, as well as one of the primary celluloid artifacts of the 1960s, Medium Cool (based on Thomas Couffer’s The Concrete Wilderness) stars Robert Forster as John Cassellis, a television cameraman in Chicago. John is so proud of his detached professionalism that he and soundman Gus (Peter Bonerz) even go so far as to stop and film a car crash before calling an ambulance. However, after John films a protest by black activists about racism in the media, the film is seized by the FBI, and his resistance to handing over the footage gets him fired from his job at the television station. As the 1968 convention approaches, John picks up a freelance assignment and is thrust headlong into the anarchy of the Chicago streets and the convention floor. His prized detachment falls away as he watches Mayor Daley’s cops clubbing unarmed protestors. Shooting with handheld cameras, Wexler’s unerring eye moves seamlessly between the actors and the unplanned events exploding in front of them. His pitiless dissection of the media’s role in the shaping of reality spares no one. —Rotten Tomatoes
Presented in connection with “The Future of the Sixties: Radicalism, Reform, Reaction” Conference. The screening is sponsored by the UCI Humanities Center with the support of the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies. The film screening is free for conference attendees.
Directed by Haskell Wexler • 1969, USA • 111 minutes • 35mm