Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New WPA Film Screens at the Smithsonian

Last week, filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton of 217 Films screened their new film “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” to a standing room only crowd at the New Britain Museum American Art.     

On June 17, “Enough to Live On” will be shown again at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

This film celebrates the eightieth anniversary of the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Art Project and tells the story of how the New Deal used the arts to bring a message of hope and recovery to the American people (2015, 94 minutes).  Join a docent-led tour of the museum’s New Deal artworks before the screening. 

View clips from the film at this link. 

What:  Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” introduced by filmmaker Michael Maglaras.  A reception will follow the screening.

When:  Wednesday, June 17
Gallery Talk – 5:30pm
Film Screening – 6:30pm

Where:  Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gallery Talk - Meet in F Street Lobby
Film Screening – McEvoy Auditorium

Tickets: Free


The full screening schedule for this film is at this link.  New screening dates are being added frequently so be sure to keep your eye on this page.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Orson Welles: A Tale of Two Macbeths

Orson Welles in 1937.
In 1937, Orson Welles recreated Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as taking place not in Scotland...but in Haiti.

What became known as the “Voodoo Macbeth” ran in New York City for weeks and toured America for months.  

It is, and remains, an outstanding example of the innovative arts of the Works Progress Administration.

Martin Keady writes in “The Shakespeare Standard” about Orson Welles, the Bard and the part they played in WPA funded theatre.

Read his article at this link.

Join 217 Films at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on June 17 at 6:30pm to see remarkable scenes from Orson Welles’ WPA production of “Macbeth” in our new film “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA.”

The actor Jack Carter as Macbeth.
The film celebrates the eightieth anniversary of the WPA and the Federal Art Project and tells the story of how the New Deal used the arts to bring a message of hope and recovery to the American people (2015, 94 minutes).



Filmmaker Michael Maglaras will introduce the film and a reception will follow.

Join a docent-led tour of the museum’s New Deal artworks before the screening.

The full details of this free screening at the Smithsonian are at this link.   

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Director's Statement - Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA

By Michael Maglaras

Eighty years ago in 1935, as we were in the middle of the Great American Depression, many people asked whether America’s best days were behind her.

From time to time, as I am stunned by what I see and read in today’s news, I ask that same question, as I am sure many of you do. It is not a rhetorical question. It is a question worth asking…are America’s best days behind her?

Franklin Roosevelt was convinced that the way to rebuild our confidence in ourselves was to return us to work. Labor. Toil. Effort. On May 6, 1935, FDR signed an executive order authorizing the creation of the Works Progress Administration…the WPA.

 It was an effort aimed at simply putting us all back to work. That effort included, by August 1935, artists, musicians, writers, actors, and others who could have been handed a pick or shovel, but instead were handed an opportunity, through their art, to help us understand what had happened to us in October 1929, what we were continuing to endure, and, through our engagement with the arts of the WPA, understand how we could dig ourselves out of the horrific mess we had so blithely gotten ourselves into.

FDR knew, somehow instinctively, that creative Americans could play a role in America’s rebirth. Sure, the creative endeavors sponsored by the federal government…the early work of the Public Works of Art Project, the later work of the Section under the Treasury Department, and culminating in the enormous efforts of the Federal Art Project, the Federal Music Project, the Federal Theater Project, and the Federal Writers Project…were all first and foremost work relief efforts. With equal certainty, however, I can state that this deep intervention by the federal government into the creative lives of Americans enriched our society, helped to rebuild it, and helped to sustain it through the dark days of breadlines, abject poverty, and profound despair.

In my film “Enough toLive On: The Arts of the WPA,” the story I wanted to tell is a story at multiple levels. It is the story of what happens when a government understands that a worker picking up an artist’s brush or sitting down at a piano is actually “working.” It is a story about perseverance: if the first idea doesn't work, try something else. It is equally a story about the enrichment of the human spirit through what we see on the walls of a public building or hear at a concert or watch as a play unfolds. In each case, and through each experience, we individually participate in the re-weaving of the fabric of our society. We began to see it in 1935. We continue to see it in 2015. Public support for the arts, your attendance at one of my films, your support of your local symphony orchestra or theater troupe or arts and crafts project is, each day of the week, the stuff of which the rebuilding of our society and the recreation of ourselves continues.

Are America’s best days behind her? The answer lies in the words of the 19th century English critic and painter John Ruskin, who wrote, “The history of a nation is written in three books: the book of its wars, the book of its deeds, and the book of its arts.”

~~~
Image credits:

1)  Detail: Life of Action, Carl W. Peters, 1937. Mural. Photography: Fotowerks/St. Clair Photo Imaging, Rochester, NY

2)  Detail: Life of Contemplation, Carl W. Peters, 1937. Mural. Photography: Fotowerks/St. Clair Photo Imaging, Rochester, NY

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Susan Dunne Goes Behind the Scenes of New Film on the Arts of the WPA




Susan Dunne of the Hartford Courant takes you behind the scenes of 217 Films' new documentary on the arts of the WPA.  Read her article at this link.

Don't miss the world premiere of "Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA" this Thursday, May 14th at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  More information at this link.  

View clips from the film at this link.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Connecticut Magazine Features 217 Films


The New Britain Museum of American Art brings you the film.  Kate Hartman at Connecticut Magazine brings you the story.  Read all about the May 14 world premiere of our new film "Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA" at this link.

WHAT:  World Premiere of 217 Films’ Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA”
A special red carpet event. 

WHEN:  Thursday, May 14 at 6:00 PM (5:30 PM reception) 
           
WHERE:  New Britain Museum of American Art, 56 Lexington St., New Britain, Connecticut

COST:  Tickets $20 Members | $25 Non-Members - Information at this link.

FMI:  Heather Whitehouse, TEL:  860-229-0257 Ext. 203, whitehouseh@nbmaa.org

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

On This Day in History


WORLD PREMIERE
A New Film by Michael Maglaras
View clips at this link.

Filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton return to the New Britain Museum of American Art with a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration…the WPA…the federal initiative that, using art, theater, writing, and music, reignited the soul of America caught in the grip of the Great Depression. Enough to Live On features more than 70 works of art, including notable works by Rockwell Kent, Dorothea Lange, Stuart Davis, and Reginald Marsh.

A Special Red Carpet Event

Thursday, May 14, 2015
5:30 Champagne Reception |  6:00 Screening

56 Lexington Street, New Britain, CT 

Tickets:  $20 members  |   $25 non-members

Reservations are suggested.  

Contact:  Heather Whitehouse
860-229-0257 ext. 203  |  whitehouseh@nbmaa.org

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sneak Peak: Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA

Our new film "Enough the Live On: The Arts of the WPA" includes a section about the Harlem Renaissance and the groundbreaking work of the great muralist Aaron Douglas.

This clip from the film is introduced with the poetry of Langston Hughes and features a composition by African American composer William Grant Still and an appearance by the remarkable blues singer Juanita Hall.

Come see the film at the world premiere on May 14 at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Follow this link for our most up to date screening schedule.  New screening dates are being added frequently.