EPHEMERA: ACT NATURAL

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EPHEMERA: ACT NATURAL
1949-1972.
Approx. 80 min. USA.

SATURDAY, JUNE 8TH – 7:30PM
SATURDAY, JUNE 29TH – 7:30PM

No outlet served post-war American culture’s ebullient pride and prosperity better than that of the now-infamous educational film. Today these didactic artifacts are relegated to sideshow status by the likes of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Weird Al, MST3K and Adult Swim, all of whom freely lampoon these easy targets for their comically dated sensibilities.

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Our monthly EPHEMERA program aims to present these documents to a contemporary audience in perhaps a more even light, ideally free from the ironic framing that can easily overwhelm some of their more interesting details. Fortunately, the humor is irrepressible.

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June’s installment ACT NATURAL compiles moments from the common theme of psychological and emotional unease, particularly in adolescence. How best can Tom, Dick and Jane navigate the rough terrain of daily social interaction, family dynamics and self-actualization? If there must be something wrong with me, are things ever going to be okay?

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Preceding the feature collage will be the short WHY DOESN’T CATHY EAT BREAKFAST? (1972, 4m, Color, USA), a puzzling and surreal PSA that manages to eerily dance around its core theme of childhood body consciousness.

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Sources for ACT NATURAL include: Angry Boy (1950), Boy With A Knife (1956), Facing Reality (1954), Habit Patterns (1954), Jealousy (1954), Keeping Mentally Fit (1952), The Outsider (1951), Self-Conscious Guy (1951), Stage Fright (1949) and more!

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Special thanks to the Internet Archive, Rick Prelinger and everyone at the Prelinger Archive.

Rick Prelinger began collecting “ephemeral films”—all those educational, industrial, amateur, advertising, or otherwise sponsored—in 1982, amassing over 60,000 (all on physical film) before his Prelinger Archive was acquired by the Library of Congress in 2002. Since then, the collection has grown and diversified: now it exists in library form in San Francisco and is also gradually being ported online to the Internet Archive (http://archive.org), where 3,801 of its films are currently hosted (as of this writing).

Of course, the content of the Prelinger Archive’s films varies in accord with the variety of mankind. Historic newsreels, mid-century automobile infomercials, psychological experiments, medical procedurals, big oil advertisements, military recruitment videos, political propagandas, personal home videos, celebrity exposes, amateur narratives, scientific studies, war bulletins, instructional films, special interest op-eds, safety lessons, hobby guides, travel destination profiles and private industry productions all sit comfortably together in one marginalized category.

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