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John Sayles Symposium "Declarations of Independence: John Sayles as Author, Auteur, Founding Father"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
4:00 AM
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery (Room 100)

Join Film Studies Film Librarian Phil Hallman for "Declarations of Independence: John Sayles as Author, Auteur, Founding Father," a symposium honoring author & filmmaker John Sayles. The symposium will be held in conjunction with the annual Cinetopia International Film Festival, where Sayles will appear in person.

In 2013, writer and independent filmmaker John Sayles and his longtime producing partner Maggie Renzi donated some 230 boxes of archival material spanning Sayles’s entire career, from his 1979 directorial debut Return of the Secaucus 7 through Go for Sisters, his most recent release. The Hatcher Library also features a John Sayles exhibit "Sayles Pitch: John Sayles, Author, Auteur, Independent", which joins those of Robert Altman and Orson Welles in the library’s “American Film Mavericks at Michigan” collection, and includes scripts, production documents, legal documents, photographs, storyboards, correspondence, personal journals and props.

As part of their coursework, students in Screen Arts & Cultures 455: American Independent Cinema explored this rich trove of primary source materials to unravel the creative, technical, and logistical processes that went into the making of the Sayles oeuvre. What they found there forms the basis of this exhibit, which divides into four sections. The first takes a close look at a single film, Honeydripper, as a case study in Sayles’s outside-the-system process. The second documents some of Sayles’s work across genres as a writer, credited and uncredited, on films ranging from the monster movie Alligator to Apollo 13. The third considers his approach to the social, political, and economic realities of the people and places so intimately portrayed in his films. The fourth is a video display of scenes from some of the films, overlaid with an audio commentary track.

In addition, original artifacts from the archive are on display in the Audubon Room.