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The Cry of Jazz

USA, 1959 (MIFF 1960, Programme 10)

Director: Edward O. Bland

The Cry of Jazz makes a complete about-face in American documentary, from a passive, objective democratic or "simple humanist'' approach to a personal, passionate, active one. It is an essay film, with all visual material and commentary subject to proving and illustrating an idea.

Produced by a group of young Negro intellectuals and artists in Chicago, the film describes the condi­tions of the Negro today through the history and character of jazz. The director takes a very cate­gorical stand: that jazz is an expression of the American Negro; that the Negro, because of his long suffering was able to retain more of the tragic-emotional richness than the American white; and that jazz is now dead because the Negro is enter­ing the stage of a more conscious confident accept­ance of himself. All this is stated not in logical expressions but in passionate outbursts. It is said with a sort of philosophical anger, as though by one who has finally lost all patience with expla­nation. It is like a cry held too long in the throat.

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