The UWO Department of Radio TV Film, in collaboration with the UWO International Film Series, will present a special screening of the historic Pare Lorentz environmental documentary The River to mark the 85th anniversary of this landmark film. Please join us for this free screening and discussion of the film.
The 31-minute documentary film focuses on the commercial importance of the Mississippi River and the resulting environmental impact resulting from farming and logging practices of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Central to the film are how these practices caused devastating soil erosion and flooding, eventually leading to the involvement of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The River was written and directed by Lorentz for the Farm Security Administration and won the World Prize for Best Documentary Picture at the Venice Festival in 1938, the same year that President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him chief of the U.S. Film Service.
The River pioneered the application of a variety of audiovisual techniques. It is also an early example of the use of film to address social and environmental issues in the documentary format. The film was named to the National Registry of the Library of Congress in 1990. Lorentz produced other notable films during his career, was a newspaper film critic, magazine editor, author and a special correspondent for the Washington Post.
The screening of The River will be introduced by Dr. Robert J. Snyder of UW-Platteville, the son of Dr. Robert L. Snyder, who was Lorentz’s biographer and the founder of the Radio TV Film program at UWO. Lorentz’s work was the subject of the elder Snyder’s doctoral dissertation and their long friendship resulted in Lorentz donating much of his professional output to UW Oshkosh. Lorentz also was a guest artist in residence at the Oshkosh campus in 1966. In November 1971, Lorentz was honored with the first-ever honorary professorship from UW Oshkosh for his contribution to the film industry and his leadership in that field.
The event will be in the theater at the Reeve Memorial Union, room 307 at 7:00pm on Thursday, October 30. Doors will open at 6:30pm.