Volume 8, Issue 2 / February 2004

By chance rather than design, one of the theme’s for this month’s issue of Offscreen is the fine art of cinematic propaganda. Montreal’s “Film Society” presents a rare screening of two silent film classics by D.W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation and Intolerance. Nearly 90 years later, Birth of a Nation still has the power to move and stir an audience. Controversial in its day for its Southern-biased racist ideology, Birth of a Nation makes for a text-book case study on how a film’s form can dynamize its ideological content. A few decades later in Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich began one of the most systematic and widespread national propaganda campaigns. New York based DVD company First Run Features has consistently supported films that examine the German propaganda machine from a variety of perspectives. Offscreen discusses three of their finer offerings in a review essay. Also from First Run Features is a documentary account of the life and art of one of cinema’s greatest cinematographers, Sven Nykvist. Rounding up the issue is Peter Rist’s selection of the best International films released in Montreal in 2003 and Robert Carl Craig’s provocative analysis of Canadian filmmaker Phil Hoffman’s poetic treatment of autobiography and aesthetics in Passing Through/Torn Formations. (ed. Donato Totaro)

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