NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW

The film “Free Time” is an ode to New York. Tonight, see how resurrected 16 millimeter footage of Manhattan is a love letter from a filmmaker to the city he loves.

Aired on October 10, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> FILMMAKER MAN FORD KIRSCHHEIMER HAS BEEN DOCUMENTING NEW YORK CITY INIS INIMITABLE WAY FOR HALF A CENTURY.

THE 80-YEAR-OLD FILM PROFESSOR HAS LOVED NEW YORK SINCE HE AND HIS FAMILY CAME HERE IN 1936 TO ESCAPE NAZI GERMANY.

IT'S RECORDED THE RHYTHMS OF HIS ADOPTED CITY.

FOR HIS NEWEST FILM WHICH HAD ITS PREMIERE AT LINCOLN CENTER, HE USED FOOTAGE HE AND A COLLEAGUE SHOT 60 YEARS AGO.

'FREE TIME' IS A MEDITATION OF CITY LIFE SET TO THE SOUNDS OF JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MUSIC, THIS TIME CARPETING THE METROPOLIS DURING A SEEMINGLY GENTLER TIME GONE BY.

HERE IS A PREVIEW.

♪ ♪ ♪

AND JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT 'FREE TIME' AND ABOUT HIS LIFE AND CAREER IS FILMMAKER MANNY KIRSCHHEIMER.

IT'S AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

YOU SHOT THIS FILM 60 YEARS AGO.

WHY DID YOU SHOOT THIS FILM, WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL INTENTION WITH IT?

WELL, WALTER HESS, MY PARTNER AT THE TIME, AND I WERE SHOOTING A LARGE SCRIPTED FILM CALLED 'DREAM OF A CITY.'

AND ITS MAIN THEME HAD TO DO WITH THE WAY THE GLASS BOXES WERE TAKING OVER THE CITY, THE DOWNTOWN, MIDTOWN PART OF IT.

THE GLASS SKYSCRAPERS?

YEAH.

I CALL THEM BOXES, YOU KNOW?

WE DEPLORED IT.

AND IT HAD SCENES OF THE WRECKING OF THE WOOLDER BUILDIN IN FAVOR OF THE NEWER ONES.

WE DIDN'T GET TO EDIT THAT FILM BUT WE SHOT A GREAT DEAL OF MATERIAL, WE SHOT OVER 30 HOURS' WORTH OF MATERIAL WITH A BOLEX BLACK AND WHITE, 100-FOOT ROLLS.

ANYWAY, SO SINCE WE WEREN'T ABLE TO EDIT IT TOGETHER, I ASKED PERMISSION FROM HIM TO MAKE MY OWN FILMS OUT OF THE MATERIAL AND HE COULD MAKE HIS OWN FILMS.

SO THAT SOON AFTER, I MADE A HALF HOUR FILM CALLED 'CLAW,' WHICH WAS ABOUT THAT SUBJECT.

BUT NOW YOU REVIVE IT AND MAKE A WHOLE FILM OUT OF THAT FOOTAGE.

WHY NOW?

RIGHT.

THAT WAS ONLY A HALF HOUR, AND THIS IS AN HOUR.

WHY NOW?

I MADE A FILM LAST YEAR WHICH I ACTUALLY CALLED 'DREAM OF A CITY' WHICH WAS ALSO AT THE FILM FESTIVAL.

YOU KNOW, I -- I DON'T LIKE TO MAKE THE SAME KIND OF FILM TWICE IN A ROW.

SO IN BETWEEN I MADE A TALKING HEADS FILM, AN INTERVIEW FILM CALLED 'MIDDLE CLASS MONEY, HONEY,' ALL ABOUT PEOPLE'S RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY.

THEN I FIGURED, ALL RIGHT, I'LL GO BACK TO THIS MATERIAL AND SEE WHAT'S LEFT.

AND SO THAT BECAME 'FREE TIME.'

SO YOU'VE BEEN SHOOTING THIS FILM -- I MEAN, THIS CITY, FOR DECADES.

PROBABLY NO ONE KNOWS BETTER HOW IT HAS CHANGED.

HOW DO YOU THINK IT HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER AND FOR THE WORSE?

WELL, FOR THE BETTER, THE AIR QUALITY IS BETTER.

THERE ARE TREES EVERYWHERE.

THERE IS NOT A TREE IN THIS FILM, YOU KNOW?

AND NOW, I MEAN, I LIVE ON BROADWAY AND THE MALL IS FILLED, IT'S LUSH, YOU KNOW THAT IT'S SUMMERTIME WHEN IT'S SUMMERTIME.

THOSE TWO THINGS WHERE DEFINITELY IMPROVED.

WHAT'S GOTTEN WORSE IS THE TRAFFIC, OH, MY GOD, YOU KNOW, ON ANY DAY, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, THINGS ARE BLOCKED UP.

AND THE FACT WHICH THE FILM DEMONSTRATES, THAT KIDS DON'T PLAY ON THE STREET ANYMORE.

THAT'S TRUE.

AND I ATTRIBUTE THAT TO THE CELLPHONE.

I THINK THE KIDS GO UP TO THEIR HOUSES AFTER SCHOOL AND DON'T GO DOWN TO PLAY THE WAY WE USED TO.

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IGNITED THIS LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN YOU AND THIS CITY?

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE THIS THE PREMIER SUBJECT OF YOUR FILM?

WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S A LOVE/HATE AFFAIR, ACTUALLY.

OUR PROTEST AGAINST THOSE GLASS BOXES WAS A BAD PART OF THE CITY, AND IT'S HAPPENING NOW IN BROOKLYN AND IT'S HAPPENING ON 57th STREET, IN MANHATTAN, YOU KNOW, THESE VERY TALL STRUCTURES VYING WITH THE EMPIRE STATE, YOU KNOW, AND CASTING SHADOWS ON THE PARK.

SO THAT'S THE HATE PART OF NEW YORK, I REALLY DEPLORE IT AS I GO DOWN THE AVENUE.

WE'VE GOT 10 TO 15 SECONDS LEFT.

ARE YOU STILL GOING OUT ON THE STREETS SHOOTING?

NO.

MY LAST FILM, I WENT OUT ON THE STREET AND INTERVIEWED PEOPLE WHO COLLECTED CANS AND BOTTLES FOR A NICKEL.

AS I TOLD YOU BEFORE, WHEN I CAME TO NEW YORK CITY, I ALMOST GOT YOU AS A PROFESSOR, NOW I WISH I DID, IT WAS THE WRONG DECISION.

IT WAS AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, RAFAEL.

'FREE TIME' IS UNDER WAY AT LINCOLN CENTER.

FOR MORE INFORMATION HEAD ON OVER TO METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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