by J.R. Jones
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the University of Chicago's Documentary Film Group (that's Doc Films to you) will be displaying some of its coolest possessions from July 16 to August 31 at the Joseph Regenstein Library, 1110 E. 57th. Along with old programs, posters, and programming calendars, you'll find correspondence from Samuel Fuller and Jean Renoir, rare personal-appearance photos of John Ford and Howard Hawks—even Fritz Lang's martini recipe.
Curator Kyle Westphal just completed a bachelor's degree in Cinema and Media Studies at UC, and his thesis documents the history of America's "longest continuously running student film society." About half the items were culled from alumni association materials donated to the library's special collections; Westphal, Doc's current programming chair, dug the rest of the stuff out of the group's archives. Among the artifacts on display:
• A cartoon by Fritz Lang, drawn in 1970 for a Doc staffer living in Los Angeles. Lang had recently visited the Hyde Park campus for a screening of Hangmen Also Die (1943); mostly blind by then, he had to be led around on both arms, but according to Westphal he insisted on attending the screening and shouted from the back of the theater that the print was out of focus.
• Publicity materials for Maya Deren's 1951 lecture at the university.
In addition to these items, says Westphal, the group's calendars also allowed him to track programming trends and critical ideas that influenced Doc's offerings to students over the years. "Doc Films at 75" is free and open to the public weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:45 PM and Saturday from 9 AM to 12:45 PM. Westphal will give a guided tour of the exhibit during the opening reception on Monday, July 16, 3 to 4:30 PM. For more information contact the university's Special Collections Research Center at 773-702-8705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.