4/5/24: TVTV’s Four More Years at Northwestern’s Block Cinema

A screening of TVTV's Four More Years at Block Cinema, with Tom Weinberg and Prof. Heather Hendershot.

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Journalist Mike Wallace on the floor of the Republican National Convention, 1972.

In 1972, a loose collective of more than twenty videomakers from all over the country came together to form Top Value Television, aka TVTV, and create a brand-new kind of documentary. Shooting on video – lightweight, cheap, easy to use – the team recorded that year’s presidential conventions, resulting in The World’s Largest TV Studio (about the Democrats) and Four More Years (about the Republicans). At a time when TV’s political coverage was uniformly buttoned up and formal, what the Washington Post referred to as the “long-haired and braless” outsiders pointed their cameras at everything the networks overlooked or ignored about the conventions, drilling down on the hypocrisy of the politicians and deflating the empty pageantry of the entire spectacle, and of the media apparatus that disseminated their messages. They interviewed righteously passionate protesters and network news anchors, random attendees and Henry Kissinger. TVTV provided a view of the American political process that had never been seen before and, remarkably, it was broadcast around the country. In the process, these quirky, irreverent, and deeply funny documentaries launched a movement – guerrilla television – of fiercely independent, politically-motivated videomakers who aspired to nothing less than the overthrow of the American media hierarchy. Presented by Northwestern University’s Block Cinema and Media Burn Archive.

Followed by a conversation with videomaker Tom Weinberg and Prof. Heather Hendershot, of Northwestern University’s School of Communication and Medill School of Journalism.

Register for free HERE.

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Vietnam Veterans Against the War activist Ron Kovic protests on the floor of the Republican National Convention, 1972

Tom Weinberg has been producing ground-breaking video and TV programs for more than 50 years. He began his career with alternative video pioneers TVTV, and his credits include more than 500 nonfiction television programs and educational videos as producer, director, and executive producer. His work with public television and WTTW over more than 30 years includes the long-running independent film and video showcase, Image Union, which he created and produced for the first ten years of its 35-year history. Alongside producer Joel Cohen, Tom was executive producer of the independently-produced PBS series The 90’s, which provided a forum for cultural and artistic expression not previously seen on TV. His work has brought him four Emmy Awards and has been widely distributed on commercial TV and in festivals and museums around the world, including in Tokyo, Rio, New York, and Vancouver. He founded Media Burn Archive in 2003, and nearly all of his documentaries are online on mediaburn.org.

Heather Hendershot is a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Communication and Medill School of Journalism. Professor Hendershot researches American film, television, and political culture, focusing on the 1960s-70s. She has published books on both mainstream network news and on conservative and right-wing media. Her latest work centers on journalistic coverage of the Chicago 1968 Democratic National Convention. Her essays have appeared in the Nation, the Washington PostThe Conversation, and Politico.

This program is in conjunction with the symposium Guerrilla Television: The Revolutions of Early Independent Video, taking place April 19-21 at the University of Chicago and presented by Media Burn Archive, the University of Chicago Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the Video Data Bank. This symposium – and a series of related screenings and discussions – brings together artists, scholars, and archivists to discuss the legacies of this crucial but underappreciated era of independent media.



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