Film: Strange Victory (1948) by Leo Hurwitz
With an introduction by Ed Halter
Welcome to a special screening of the film Strange Victory (1948) by Leo Hurwitz, with an introduction by the New York-based curator and critic Ed Halter.
The event starts at 7 pm. Admission: NOK 50,-
Years before he gained notoriety in America as head of counterculture publishers Grove Press and their influential journal Evergreen Review, Barney Rosset had a short-lived career as a film producer. After serving in WWII in China, Rosset returned to the USA to produce the feature-length documentary Strange Victory, directed by stalwart leftist filmmaker Leo Hurwitz. Touted as the “first exposé of racial persecution in America” and uncompromising in its call for social justice, Strange Victory won awards at European film festivals but was little exhibited in the US until its recent restoration and release only a few years ago. In the 1960s, Rosset would return to cinema by founding the Grove Press Film Division, which grew into one of the era’s most important American distributors, promoting films by Jean-Luc Godard, Susan Sontag, William Klein and many other artists devoted to radical politics. - Ed Halter
This rarely seen, stylistically bold documentary equals the visual, poetic brilliance of Battleship Potemkin and I am Cuba while delivering an extraordinary cry from the heart to make a better place for our children. Skillfully combining documentary footage of World War II battles, postwar refugees, and the Nuremberg trials with powerful dramatic re-enactments, Hurwitz wove an extraordinary cinematic portrait of postwar American Fascism. How could it be, the film asked, that servicemen returned home from defeating a racist and genocidal enemy found the United States plagued by racism, Jim Crow, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and xenophobia? Strange Victory — a cry for equality and justice — was promptly branded ‘pro-communist’ and a financial flop. Hurwitz was blacklisted from film and television for more than a decade and Virgil Richardson (a former Tuskegee Airman), who portrayed a black vet in the film, chose to emigrate to Mexico to escape to US racism. - Milestone Films
Ed Halter is the co-editor, with the late Barney Rosset, of From the Third Eye: The Evergreen Review Film Reader (Seven Stories Press, 2018). One of the founders and directors of Light Industry, a venue for cinema and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York, Halter is a critic and curator whose work has appeared in 4Columns, Artforum, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. His other publications include Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the 21st Century (2015, co-edited with Lauren Cornell) and From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games (2006).
Special thanks to the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.