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January 7, 2003

Library film series kicks off with Russian animation

From: The Daily Northwestern - 07 Jan 2003

Reeltime Independent Film and Video presentation will emphasize discussion

By Jared Goldberg-Leopold

January 07, 2003

Russian animation might seem out of place at the Evanston Public Library, but that's part of Kathy Berger's plan.

For Berger, the co-founder of Reeltime Independent Film and Video Forum, movies work best as a communal activity.

"You experience a film very differently when you're watching with a group of people than when you're alone in your family room," Berger said. "I think that's what people are looking for."

Berger hopes people will find that experience in the library, 1703 Orrington Ave., on Wednesday night when this season's Reeltime series begins with an exhibition and discussion of Russian animation. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

Through Reeltime, Berger and co-founder Andrea Leland are trying to bring residents together to watch and discuss independent movies several times throughout the winter as part of the year-round program.

"It's a way of bringing the community together around movies," said Scott Curtis, a Northwestern film professor and director of programming for Reeltime. "Our program this year just continues that mission."

On Wednesday, Curtis and Evanston resident Mikhail Gurevich will discuss the social and cultural importance of Russian animation, which -- unlike many American cartoons -- often serves political purposes, Curtis said.

"When we think of cartoons in America, we generally think of something for kids," he said. "Russian animation has a different function. It becomes something that comments on power."

Under the Soviet regime, Russians utilized animation as a political tool, since it could push the envelope more than live-action cinema could, Curtis said.

"Because of its ability to transform the depiction of reality, it can go a little further than other art forms can," he said.

Gurevich, a Russian-born animation expert, said he believes artistic animation has an important place in society.

"It's far beyond what we would consider generally recognized cartoonish culture," he said. "I consider artistic animation an underreported art form and I'm really interested in introducing it to the general public."

Reeltime will show several other lesser-known movies to the public this winter, including "Scout's Honor," a documentary about opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay politics. The film, which won the Playboy Foundation's Freedom of Expression Award, will be shown Feb. 12 at the Block Museum of Art.

The Block Museum, which co-sponsors Reeltime with Evanston Public Library, also will host a showing of the experimental documentary "Hybrid" on March 12. The documentary focuses on a Midwesterner's discovery of the miracles of corn hybridization.

Reeltime will co-host the second annual Festival of Cinema for the Deaf with the Chicago Institute for the Moving Image ( The festival, which focuses on movies by and for the deaf, will be Feb. 27 to March 3 at Century Theatres, 1715 Maple Ave.

At the library on April 9, Reeltime will present its annual screening of short-subject films, many of which were made by local filmmakers. In the past, students from NU's radio-TV-film department have showcased their work at the event, Curtis said.

"Reeltime is always about dialogue," he said. "That's why people keep coming and enjoying it, because they get to talk about the movies."

© 2003 The Daily Northwestern