Oddball Films and guest curator Lynn Cursaro present another edition of Pop! Goes the Classroom: School Films from the Golden Age of Groovy. A wide range of 1960’s sensibilities trickled down to educational films, from far out editing to groovy imagery, with weird, wild and beautiful results. Facts and dates gave way to concepts, color, song and action. Narration-free documentary shorts, such as Night People's Day (1971) gave youngsters a chance to ponder the hidden world of the night shift. One of the most outrageously adorable films ever, Baby Rabbit (1969) looks at bunnies and the children who love and care for them. Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack dream of the future in “When We Grow Up” from Free to Be You and Me, which brought classroom pop into livingrooms. Let's See: Lopsideland (1969) is set a San Francisco of psychedelia and childhood wonder. Learning and lyricism meet in A Slice of Bread (1970). Learning-to-read tone poem Sun (1970) will shed new light on old sol, tunefully. Multiculti gem, Pamela Wong's Birthday for Grandma (1977) let's us tag along as a youngster gets ready for her Nana's big day in Chicago's Chinatown. Ball Skills (1969) will open up a whole world of bouncing, rolling and throwing. Wheels, Wheels, Wheels (1970) is an exciting thrills and spills look at this very basic form. And there’s MORE! As usual, home-baked POP-centric gingerbread will be among the complimentary treats from the curator’s kitchen!
Date: Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00, Limited Seating, RSVP to: 415-558-8117 or RSVP@oddballfilm.com
Toes Tell (1969, color)
One girl, two feet, ten toes . . . and so much to explore. These little piggies venture forth unshod and ready for anything, be it fuzzy, squishy or sticky. Although this barefoot adventure was distributed by the folks at Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s loaded with free-wheeling hippie aesthetic. Must be seen to be disbelieved.
Will I be Big and Strong?
Free To Be...You and Me - When I Grow Up (Color, 1974, excerpt)
From the Emmy Award-winning TV adaptation of the quintessential hippy parenting guide, Free to be...You and Me, Roberta Flack and Michael Jackson play young children, imagining a future with their current physical shortcomings. The late great MJ croons “And I don’t care if you’re pretty at all and I don’t care if I never get tall. I like what you look like and I’m nice small. We don’t have to change at all.”
A Slice of Bread (Color, 1970)
Learning is going on everywhere in young Fred’s life. At school, he is learning how the food we eat grows and gets to go on the best field trip ever: a big bread factory! At home, our young hero learns the lesson of compassion as he rescues an injured bird and nurses it back to health. It all comes together with some sharp intercutting of our young hero’s rich inner life as he puts all these lessons together.
Baby brothers and baby rabbits not so different when you get down to it, although bunnies might be less annoying. Drawing parallels between the love and care parents give their children and the joys and responsibilities of keeping animal friends, Baby Rabbit is jam packed with warmth. Extreme cuteness warning: if the bunnies don’t get you, the darling trio of siblings will! Music by Country Al Ross.
Nighttime is the Right Time
Night People’s Day (Bob Kurtz, Color, 1971)
The look at the hidden workdays of nocturnal workers would be fascinating on its own, but this narration-free film adds human-made sound effects! A chorus of youngsters bloop, swish, crunch and whirl along as postal workers, produce market jobbers, bakers and other moonlit tradesmen go about their workaday routines and share their thoughts on their topsy-turvy workaday nights.
Sunny, Schmunny! The sun has many moods, after all it shines on just about everything. Beautifully shot scenes of summer fun share the screen with vocab-building text to make learning sight words fun and filmic.
Do playthings confuse you? Are you completely stymied about the sorts of fun activities you can enjoy with a ball? Not sure about bouncing? Just because you can learn these things on the playground doesn’t mean it’s not a dandy subject for film! Overly analytical, this look at standard game skills balances its unneeded narration with kids in bright Nixon-era playwear.
Pamela Wong’s Birthday for Grandma (Color, 1977)
Grandma just moved from Hong Kong and today is her very first American birthday which is special because they don’t have birthday cakes in China. As helpful Pamela runs a few errands for mom we get a lovely tour of Chicago’s Chinatown and some of the special shops there. But is Pamela up to such a grown-up task? The ending may drive you insane! One of A/V Geeks' Skip Elsheimer's favorite educational shorts.
A Fresh Slant
Lopsideland (Color, 1969)
If any city can be considered a colorful character, it’s San Francisco! Has the laissez-faire attitude of its denizens shaped the city, or have all those hills and crannies shaped us? This delightful short doesn’t even pretend to know the answer!
Why have some dry narrator explain the properties of wheel when this action-packed montage of motion is the perfect excuse for a smoking soundtrack The brass fueled score complements the big, the fast and the industrial, but some very tiny wheels are here too. If it goes round, round, round it’s where it’s at for these groovy filmmakers.
For early arrivals:
Blue Jean (Color, 1971)
From the goldfields of California to the classrooms, playgrounds and catwalks of the world, denim is where it's at! A smattering of history, a pinch of cost analysis and a "comic" linking skit all combine to provide kids with a soft, worn-in perspective of the no longer humble “working man’s pants” and their ubiquity.
About the Curator
Lynn Cursaro is a local film blogger. Over the past two decades, she has worked in research and administrative positions a variety of Bay Area film organizations. She “goes pop!” whenever it feels sensible to do so. This show marks her 4 year anniversary for curating at Oddball!
About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.