Marshall films screen at UIUC

We apologize for bringing this to your attention at the last minute, but the following will certainly be of interest to film scholars and preservationsists alike. Excerpted from the original press release:

From September 24–26, 2009, the University of Illinois European Union Center presents “Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan, 1948–1953,” a three-part showcase of 16 short films produced by the Marshall Plan’s Motion Picture Section. Made by European filmmakers for European audiences, they were part of a vast public diplomacy campaign that made creative use of cinema to help win the peace after World War II. The Marshall Plan films – close to 300 were made — were banned in the U.S. under the terms of the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act. The ban was lifted in 1990, through an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act.

The “Selling Democracy” series brings the Marshall Plan films to American audiences for the first time. They are made available with support from the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which has been working with Marshall film historian Sandra Schulberg to restore and preserve as many titles as possible. Each program is followed by a Q&A session with Ms. Schulberg [who] has been researching the Marshall Plan’s use of cinema since 2003, and is conducting film interviews with all of the surviving filmmakers. Founder and former president of the Independent Feature Project (IFP) and co-founder of First Run Features, Schulberg has been an advocate of independent cinema for more than 25 years, and an award-winning movie producer in her own right.

The daughter of Stuart Schulberg, chief of the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section in Europe from 1950-1952, she is producing a DVD edition of Marshall Plan films. Joining her are scholars from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Marshall Plan film showcase is sponsored by the University of Illinois European Union Center, and co-sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of History, the Unit in Cinema Studies, the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Selections from the Marshall Plan films are being shown in Room 62 of the Krannert Art Museum, UIUC, 500 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign, IL, in three sessions. The first took place last night, but Program 2, “Unity in Difference: The Road to European Union” will be held today, Friday, September 25, at 5:15 p.m. while Program 3, “Public Diplomacy Techniques: From Art to Ideology” will take place tomorrow, Saturday, September 26, at 2 p.m. with the closing symposium immediately afterward at 4 p.m.

Also scheduled is a discussion beginning today at 1:30 p.m. at the Lucy Ellis Lounge on the ground floor of the Foreign Language Building, UIUC, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL, entitled “Where Are We & Where Are We Going? The Challenges of Making & Distributing Independent Movies.” Schulberg’s film credits include the features QUILLS, WAITING FOR THE MOON, and I’LL TAKE YOU THERE. Interestingly, her uncle is the late Budd Schulberg, who wrote the screenplays for the classics ON THE WATERFRONT and A FACE IN THE CROWD among other Hollywood movies, television shows, and novels.

Further information, including extensive notes about the post-war film program, a list of films to be shown during this series, and Sandra Schulberg’s biography, can be found at this site while more history can be gleaned from the respective Selling Democracy and Marshall Films Web pages.

~ Jason Pankoke

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