The Spectre of Fascism - Echoes from Totalitarianism - Fri. Dec. 2nd - 8PM

Oddball Films presents The Spectre of Fascism - Echoes from Totalitarianism, a program of international 16mm short films, documentaries and animation reflecting on the 20th century's history of fascism and it's repercussions both artistic and humanitarian. With subversive stop-motion animation from Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, dark allegories of political conformity and rebellion, Alain Resnais' definitive Holocaust documentary short, and even Don@ld Duck as a Nazi, it is a powerful night giving testament to the power of the indomitable human spirit in the face of fascism. Alain Resnais’ masterful Night and Fog (1955) is both horrifying and necessary, combining archival material with meditative footage shot at Auschwitz and Majdanek ten years after the end of World War II. In the process, Resnais reveals the yawning gap between what’s left and what was, challenging the commonplace assumption that we can ever really understand the magnitude of history and its many traumas. From former Nazi-occupied Poland comes Tad Makarczynski's The Magician (1962), a pied-piperesque allegory of several young boys recruited to be soldiers by a nefarious magician, as well as the dark stop-motion animation rebellion Bags AKA Worek (1967) directed by Tadeusz Wilcosz. From the former Czechoslovakia we bring you another stop-motion marvel, Jiří Trnka's exquisite parable of totalitarianism and named one of the top five animated films of all-time: The Hand (1965), banned in its country of origin for decades. In De Overkant (1966), Belgian filmmaker Herman Wuyts brings us a bleak interpretation of a totalitarian society in which independence equates to death. The dark animated adaptation of Maurice Ogden's The Hangman (1967) is a chilling vision of the dangers of conformity and a grim metaphor for the horrors of scapegoating and witch-hunts. For a little comic relief (and we'll need it), we bring you Di$ney's Oscar-winning propaganda cartoon Der Fuehrer's Face (1943) featuring Don@ld Duck in a musical Nazi nightmare. Revisit the dark history of fascist oppression so we shall not be doomed to repeat it in the coming years. Everything screened on 16mm film from our massive stock footage archive.

Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2016 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Night and Fog
(Color/B+W, 32 mins, 1955) 

Alain Resnais’ authoritative Holocaust documentary, produced just ten years after the end of the Second World War, speaks to the myths of historical progress and the unimaginable depths of historical trauma. Combining carefully composed color photography of concentration camp ruins and an array of black and white footage from the archives, and set to an alienating and totally unexpected score by Hanns Eisler, Resnais’ film stands as both horrifying testimony to the nightmares of the past and direct challenge to the viewer to understand their magnitude: all we have are lingering ghosts, dreams of dreams. 

The Magician aka Czarodziej (B+W, 1962)
Directed by Tad Makarczynski; produced by Semafor Studios in Poland, this remarkable rarity is a grim, savage and unpleasantly effective little anti-war allegory, cleverly conceived and beautifully executed. “The Magician” recruits a small group of young boys to become little soldiers… Not much information on director Makarczynski,- he most certainly lived through the horror of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Uprising, and in addition to many documentaries about the war he collaborated with “On The Bowery” director Lionel Rogosin on the anti-war film “Good Times, Wonderful Times”.

Bags AKA Worek (Color, 1967) 

Mysterious and creepy stop-motion film from Poland- a burlap sack proceeds to consume everything in sight, until all the objects- scissors, sewing machines, etc. revolt, organize and subdue it. Directed by Tadeusz Wilcosz.

The Hangman (Color, 1964)
Paul Julian, previously known as an animator for Warner Bros' Looney Tunes, directs this haunting adaptation of Maurice Ogden's poem of the same name. A mysterious hangman comes

to a small town, taking upon himself the responsibilities of town judge, jury, and executioner, but rather than questioning the stranger's arbitrary sentencing, the town's residents stay satisfied with their own well being, and look idly on as their community dwindles and their neighbors, one-by-one, face the noose-but might they too be beckoned by the hangman? Surreal in its visual style with long shadows and sharp color contrasts, and made all the more unsettling by an eerie jazzy sort of score.

De Overkant (B+W, 1966)
This Belgian short made by Herman Wuyts is a bleak and shocking look at an imaginary, but terrifying totalitarian civilization. All people are forced to walk along the walls of the street, never looking at each other or the world beyond the walls. As the hordes shuffle down the street - their hands brushing along the walls but never touching one another - one man dares to run into the middle of the street, where he is promptly gunned down. As more men give their lives for the freedom of choice, the people attempt an uprising, that is quickly and bloodily dispensed with before the masses run back to the relative safety of acquiescence.

The Hand (Color, 1965) 
Jiri Trnka  (1912 – 1969) was indisputably one of the greatest animated filmmakers.  The brilliant puppet animation Ruka (aka The Hand) is the last film he made before his death in 1969 and reflects Trnka’s own struggle to create art under a totalitarian regime. Made to take advantage of the post-1964 political thaw, The Hand was banned in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion, and no wonder: no amount of spin can dilute the moral force of Trnka’s message - or his sly satire of mass popular culture: is it a coincidence that one of the hand’s vehicles of totalitarian control is a television set? 
Trnka directed some of the most acclaimed animated films ever made. In 1966, four years before his death, Newsday lauded him as "second to Chaplin as a film artist because his work inaugurated a new stage in a medium long dominated by Disney." Trnka, was a 1936 graduate of Prague's School of Arts and Crafts. In 1945 he set up an animation unit with several collaborators at the Prague film studio; they called the unit "Trick Brothers." Trnka specialized in puppet animation, a traditional Czech art form, of which he became the undisputed master. He also created animated cartoons, but it was his puppet animation that made him an internationally recognized artist and the winner of film festival awards at Venice and elsewhere. His films are brilliant, bizarre and meticulously rendered.

Der Fuehrer's Face (B+W, 1943)
A very different Don@ld short than you've ever seen, in this wartime oddity, Don@ld wakes up as a Nazi. He must wake up early, eat very little and work overtime in a Nazi artillery factory all while german soldiers bark orders at him through a Nazi megaphone. After mere minutes of screwing the tops on artillery shells, he suffers a psychotic break to various refrains of the Spike Jonze titular song. After some psychedelic SS insanity, he's overjoyed to wake up from his terrible dream in good old America again. This Academy Award winning propaganda short was suppressed for over fifty years after it was made.

Curator’s Biography
Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric film hoarder. She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009. She has programmed over 250 shows at Oddball on everything from puberty primers to experimental animation.
About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like The Nice Guys and Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Transparent and Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.

Our screenings are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, 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.