Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
For today’s #56Films entry, we spotlight one of America’s great documentarians, Ken Burns, and his 1981 film Brooklyn Bridge which screened at the 17th Chicago International FIlm Festival in 1981.
Director: Ken Burns
17th Chicago International Film Festival
Brooklyn Bridge is another slice of the American pie that Ken Burns has been serving for over thirty years. Yes, I know this sounds like an insult, but I mean it in the best way possible. For years, Burns has weathered the complaints of filmmakers and critics that his style is too repetitive – all voiceovers, letter readings and floating images. What most critics miss, though, is that Burns’ style is his greatest strength as a storyteller. Over the course of many films and series, Burns has created a very specific mytho-poetic America, a land where new ideas in architecture, music, sports, nature and even warfare are sewn together by similar threads of tragedy, triumph, ingenuity and spirit. Their stylistic commonality isn’t the proof of an uninventive filmmaker. It is the sign of an artist drawing connections between disparate stories to create his own all-encompassing vision of the American Experiment. Burns is doing what we expect of any great storyteller: He is creating then giving us his truth. For my money, he does this admirably. — Ron Falzone, Columbia College Chicago and Harold Ramis Film School