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  • Emile de Antonio Collection Accessible after Yearlong Project

August 1, 2013, Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research recently announced the completion of its yearlong project to process fully the collection of celebrated American documentary filmmaker Emile de Antonio. Spanning more than 175 cubic feet, the collection was developed over twenty-seven years, from 1971 to 2008, in 106 separate installments. Funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the processing project greatly increases access to the diverse materials within the collection for varied audiences.

Emile de Antonio (1919–89) became involved in filmmaking in the late 1950s as a distributor for Pull My Daisy, a beat scene film by Jack Kerouac and Dick Bellamy. His first feature film was Point of Order (1964), constructed from kinescopes of the Army–McCarthy hearings. This documentary style—combining newsreel footage, television outtakes, and interviews—marked much of his work (That’s Where the Action Is, 1965; Rush to Judgment, 1966; In the Year of the Pig, 1968; America Is Hard to See, 1970; Mill-house: A White Comedy, 1971; Painters Painting, 1972; John Cage at the Whitney, 1982), though later films would play with this structure by including reenactments (In the King of Prussia, 1982) or featuring the filmmaker himself in the filming (Underground, 1976; Mr. Hoover & I, 1989).

The collection reflects de Antonio’s personal and professional lives and includes material on every film project he made and several uncompleted works. It also reflects his role as an adviser, editor, and mentor to many other filmmakers; his participation in leftist political groups; and his research interests in revolutionary movements, the modern art world, and documentary and independent film production.

Topics well served by the collection include political struggles in Central and South America; antiwar movements; underground art; independent film production; the New York Art Scene; leftist political, social, and student organizations, for example, the National Liberation Front, Peru (FLN); the Weather Underground; socialist and communist revolutions; civil rights groups; Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance processes; and artists and political figures, for example, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon.

The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research is the home of one of the largest and most significant collections of media history in the world. Its strengths [End Page 109] include independent film and television production, social and political media makers, and aesthetic innovators. The Emile de Antonio collection is one of the center’s many collections on pioneering documentary filmmakers, along with Shirley Clarke, Richard Kaplan, and Jill Godmilow. Other companion collections include papers and films relating to Lionel Rogosin, Glenn Silber, Michael Fellner, Third World Newsreel, Allan Siegel, Joseph McCarthy, Daniel Cohen, Students for a Democratic Society, Paul Cowan, John Schuchardt, People’s Video, the Indochina Peace Campaign, and Marlene Sanders.

Retrospective screenings and an online exhibition celebrating Emile de Antonio and the conclusion of the project are scheduled for fall 2013 and spring 2014. The finding aid for the Emile de Antonio Papers will be available in fall 2013 through ArCat, the archives catalog of the Wisconsin Historical Society, at For more information, visit the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at For reference questions, contact the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at [End Page 110]



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