Tuesday, February 20, 2024 at 7:30pm
Five Films by Leonard M. Henny

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Curated by Tom Day

Peace Pickets Arrested for Disturbing the Peace, 1967, 16mm, 7 mins
The Resistance, 1968, 16mm, 17 mins
Black Power—We’re Goin’ Survive America, 1968, 16mm, 15 mins
Dead End Street?, 1970, 16mm, 11 mins
Vietnam Veteran, 1973, 16mm, 17 mins

Light Industry hosts a screening of rarely-seen films from the Film-Makers’ Cooperative. Founded over 60 years ago in New York by a collective of twenty-two artists—including Shirley Clarke, Emile de Antonio, Robert Frank, Gregory Markopoulos, and Jonas Mekas—the Coop has recently welcomed Tom Day as its first new director in decades. This evening, Day will share one of the most remarkable rediscoveries he has unearthed from the Coop’s prodigious collection.

“Absent from the footnotes of even the most granular histories of nonfiction cinema and radical art, the films of Dutch sociologist Leonard M. Henny are compact windows onto the capacious concerns of the Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Made in collaboration with a range of activist and artistic groups in the United States—from the Black Panthers and the Committee for Draft Resistance to The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the St. Louis collective Black Artists Group—Henny’s American films explore, often presciently, topics like antiwar and antinuclear activism, the afterlife of soldiers following the war in Vietnam, racial capitalism, and environmental inequity. Their style combines the immediacy of vérité with moments of dialectical montage reminiscent of Santiago Álvarez; at the time, Henny would advocate for ‘Films as Weapons in the Struggle to Liberate the American Mind,’ as stated in the title of his 1970 contribution to the journal Insurgent Sociologist. Henny produced some sixteen documentaries during his lifetime, each one expanding upon his ongoing theorization of film as a form of ‘visual sociology.’

Beyond his own film practice, Henny realized the potential of cinematic sociology by fostering an ecosystem of film production, distribution, and exhibition that would privilege what we might more accurately class as militant leftist filmmaking. Henny spearheaded the nonprofit distributor Films for Social Change, which supported the efforts of dozens of filmmakers, including Barry Bialik, Les Blank, Jeff Nye, and Warren Haack. Headquartered in St. Louis and then later New York City, Films for Social Change also had a European operation running out of the University of Utrecht, where Henny taught. Henny’s work with Films for Social Change was central to a nexus of institutions that appeared around this time in the Netherlands, including Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms (Freedom Films) and Amsterdam Newsreel, outfits that were modeled in part on Newsreel and The Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York. Henny would continue to teach at Utrecht and advocate for radical cinema throughout his career, paying particular attention in later years to the promotion of Indigenous filmmaking.

The films presented here will soon undergo preservation as part of a collaboration between the Coop and the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. The catalog of Henny’s organization Films for Social Change is also the inspiration for a multi-program series, Films for Social Change Expanded, that will run throughout March at the Coop.”

- TD

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.