This month, Spectacle Theater selected 10 Icarus titles they’ve presented over the years to celebrate their relationship with the film distributor in the form of a special collection currently available via Ovid.tv.
Spectacle Theater has acted as an outpost for lost and forgotten films, as well as formally daring and provocative contemporary cinema, since its founding in 2011. As a volunteer-run microcinema that finds political common-ground with the Left, representing overlooked histories of marginalization, labor organization, and solidarity practices, is key to our programming. These interests, insofar as early programmer and founder Troy Swain can remember, is what led us to initially collaborate with Icarus Films, a leading distributor of innovative documentary films whose catalog includes works by the legendary artist Chris Marker and powerhouse documentarian Wang Bing, among other radical heavies.
Recently, Spectacle received an invitation from Ovid.tv — Icarus’ streaming platform — to assemble an online program. The collaboration engaged Spectacle’s volunteers in a process of remembrance. And, as a young volunteer, it involved me in a process of parsing out how the films we programmed represented our interests and values. The following Icarus titles were determined as the most representative of Spectacle by a poll voted upon by its members: Ice (1970), The Pirates of Babuan (1972), A Grin Without a Cat (1977), From the East (1993), Metal & Melancholy (1994), The Last Angel of History (1996), La Commune (Paris, 1871) (2000), Oxhide II (2009), Three Sisters (2012) and Lemebel (2019).
Assembled together, those films form a historical portrait of the political Left in the wake of ’68. More importantly, their interaction and understanding of the moments they capture, advance the imagining of a new political mission. To quote theorist Donna Haraway, “the open future rests on a new past.” I believe that the historical lessons contained in these films hold the key to a new future. Although Spectacle’s collective mission is not as lofty as that of creating a new future, the films that form part of Ovid.tv’s Spectacle Theater’s Top Films typify a manner of thinking I hope our patrons share: The ability to address forgotten memories in order to forge ahead in the face of adverse political action...
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