7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, 2023
Humanities Quadrangle, Room L01 (320 York)
Post-screening discussion with Kathy Pakay, Josh Morton,a nd Kazembe Balagun
Introduction and Film Notes by Brian Meacham

MAYDAY (May First Media, 1970, 16mm, 22 mins)
Preserved by the Yale Film Archive, 2016
In the spring of 1970, thousands of protesters descended on New Haven to demonstrate against the trial of members of the Black Panther Party for the murder of suspected FBI informant Alex Rackley. Led by radical luminaries Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Tom Hayden, the demonstrators converged on the New Haven Green to vent their anger and shut Yale down. Yale President Kingman Brewster commissioned a small group of Yale students to document the demonstrations, resulting in this short film, credited collectively to May First Media (which included filmmakers Josh Morton and Nick Doob, and who were advised by Yale filmmaking faculty member Michael Roemer). The film was preserved in its original 16mm format from original materials donated by Josh Morton in 2015.

PUPPET SHOW (Josh Morton, 1968, 16mm, 9 mins)
Preserved by the Yale Film Archive, 2016
Josh Morton’s 2015 donation of original elements and prints also included the original A/B reversal elements for PUPPET SHOW. As an architecture student at Yale University in the late 1960s, Morton lived in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood, half a block from the local chapter headquarters of the Black Panther Party. Looking for a way to support their cause, Morton volunteered to drive for the Panthers’ “Breakfast for Children” program, picking up kids in his van, feeding them pancakes in a local church basement, and driving them to school. After gaining the Panthers’ trust through his work, they handed him a 16mm camera and asked him to make films about their community to help them raise money. This film, one of the first Morton made, depicts a puppet show about the Panthers that was presented for neighborhood kids at the New Haven headquarters. The film went on to be screened at the Yale Film Society, helping raise donations for the Panthers, and was sent on the Party’s Oakland, California, headquarters.

JAMES BALDWIN: FROM ANOTHER PLACE (Sedat Pakay, 1973, 35mm, 12 mins)
Preserved by the Yale Film Archive with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, 2021
Sedat Pakay was born in Turkey in 1945, and trained as a photographer. He was head of the photography club at Robert College in Istanbul, where he attended high school, and was friends with the well-known Turkish actor Engin Cezzar. Cezzar, a 1957 graduate of the Yale School of Drama, played the lead in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room while studying at the Actor’s Studio in New York after graduating from Yale. When Baldwin, who lived in Turkey on and off between 1961 and 1971, came to Istanbul, Cezzar introduced him to Pakay. When Pakay came to the United States to attend the Yale School of Art and Architecture, Baldwin was his sponsor. Quoted in 1999 article in Transition: An International Review by Lewis Nkosi, Pakay describes how he came to know Baldwin:

In 1964 I saw a photograph of James Baldwin in a magazine. I was fascinated by his face, especially his bulging, vibrant eyes. I was a high school senior in Istanbul, where Baldwin was then living. Through a friend I was able to secure an invitation to meet him. Jimmy was very different from what I had envisioned: reading his essays, I thought he might be an angry man, difficult and imposing. The person I met was warm, welcoming, and friendly. His eyes moved constantly, even when he sat quietly, thinking. I photographed Jimmy many times, first in Istanbul and then, years later, in Los Angeles, where he was working on the screenplay for Columbia Pictures’ ill-fated Malcolm X movie. In 1970, I filmed him for three days in his apartment and around the city. That footage became the basis of a short film, James Baldwin: From Another Place, which appeared in 1973.

Using the original 35mm negative and soundtrack donated by Pakay’s widow Kathy Pakay, the Yale Film Archive preserved the film in 2021 with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Outtakes from Sedat Pakay’s JAMES BALDWIN: FROM ANOTHER PLACE (Edited by Brian Meacham, 2022, DCP, 10 mins)
The donation also included an assortment of picture and sound outtakes from the film, from which this ten-minute selection of material, digitally preserved with support from Cinema Conservancy in 2021, was edited. Special thanks to Jake Perlin, Kathy Pakay, and Donald Spanel.

Presented in Treasures from the Yale Film Archive, with support from Paul L. Joskow '70 M.Phil., '72 Ph.D. Printed Film Notes are distributed to the audience before each Treasures screening.

Last modified: 
Monday, April 10, 2023 - 1:39pm