Medium Cool

Screening on Film
Directed by Haskell Wexler.
With Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz.
US, 1970, 35mm, color, 110 min.
Print source: HFA

The directorial debut of veteran cinematographer Haskell Wexler, Medium Cool is a landmark independent production that makes canny use of documentary techniques in constructing a fiction feature. Set in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the narrative focuses on a television cameraman who becomes personally involved with the people and stories he covers, including a black cabbie, a single mother from Appalachia, and a group of protesters who clash with police outside the convention hall. Designed as a “wedding between features and cinema verité,” Wexler’s attempt to smuggle political reality into a theatrical tale faced significant challenges from distributors, critics and censors, but has survived as an important witness to its times.

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