Formed in December 1967 as the New Left’s propaganda arm, Newsreel produced and distributed dozens of films documenting the anti-war, student, and black liberation movements, while simultaneously exposing stateside audiences to films from the decolonizing world, particularly Vietnam and Cuba. With limited resources at the filmmakers’ disposal, Newsreel films were marked by grainy, soft-focus, over-exposed, splice-ridden footage, and second-rate sound that lent them a sense of energized immediacy akin to combat reports from the front lines. Juxtaposed scenes of domestic rebellion and liberation movements abroad underscore the group’s avowed internationalism. People’s War, filmed on location in North Vietnam by founding Newsreelers Robert Kramer, Norm Fruchter, and John Douglas in July–August 1969, represents the culmination of this internationalism. Followed by the rarely seen Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal, Kramer and Philip Spinelli’s on-the-ground chronicle of the effects of Portugal’s 1974 Carnation Revolution.
The People’s War (Robert Kramer, Norm Fruchter, John Douglas of Newsreel, US 1969, 40 min., 16mm)
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal (Robert Kramer and Philip Spinelli, US 1977, 85 min., 16mm)
Prints courtesy of MoMA.