Inquiring Nuns and ’63 Boycott
Location: Bartos Screening Room
With director Gordon Quinn in person
First ever theatrical release of the newly restored film on its 50th anniversary
Dirs. Gordon Quinn, Gerald Temaner. 1968, 66 mins. Newly restored 16mm print. Music by Philip Glass. Two young nuns crisscross Chicago, approaching strangers on the street, as well as in parking lots, the Art Institute, and churches, asking the simple question, “Are you happy?” They meet a lonely girl, a happy mother, young lovers, hippie musicians, a sociologist, and even the actor Lincoln Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, now on hard times. The interviewees are sometimes taken aback, nervous, or clamoring to get into view of the camera. Each interview is a complete and thoughtful piece of the person’s life, with no intercutting. The humor and sadness of these honest encounters lift the film beyond its experimental conceit into a serious and moving inquiry into contemporary society and the circumstances under which people examine their lives. A fascinating work of cinema verite by Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner, co-founders of Kartemquin Films, Inquiring Nuns also features the first credited film score by Philip Glass. A Kartemquin Films and Argot Pictures release.
Preceded by ’63 Boycott (Dir. Gordon Quinn. 2017, 30 mins.) On October 22, 1963, more than 200,000 students walked out of the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen archival 16mm footage of the march shot by Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn with the participants’ reflections, ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around equity, education, and youth activism.
“Inquiring Nuns is the closest thing to a ‘pure’ documentary that I have ever seen.” — William Routt, Film Quarterly, 1968
“A lovely, weirdly potent time capsule… a single, polyphonic ode to late ’67 Chicago and what was on the mind of its collective citizenry.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 2016
Alongside Inquiring Nuns, the Museum will present other groundbreaking “man on the street” films from the 1960s: Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer (1961) on November 24 and Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s Le Joli Mai (1963) on November 25.
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