KT: “These Amazing Shadows”

Posted: July 25, 2011 in In Theatres, KT Personal, Reviews

The Indianapolis International Film Festival 2011 has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean our coverage is over just yet!  We have a few more reviews to write, a podcast wrap-up to record, and other thoughts to offer to our listeners about the festival.  Thank you to all our new readers (and thank you to the Film Fest for allowing us access to the films).  We hope that you continue to read and listen to our podcasts until the festival next year!

On Saturday night, we screened “These Amazing Shadows” in the Toby at 7:30.  This is the film that I had been waiting for throughout the entire fest and what I believe to be the very centerpiece of what the Film Festival is all about.

What do the films Casablanca, Blazing Saddles and West Side Story have in common? Besides being popular, they have also been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and listed on The National Film Registry. THESE AMAZING SHADOWS, an 88-minute documentary, tells the history and importance of the Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself. The current list of 550 films includes selections from every genre – documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels and silent films. These Amazing Shadows reveals how “American movies tell us so much about ourselves… not just what we did, but what we thought, what we felt, what we aspired to, and the lies we told ourselves.”


“These Amazing Shadows” is a truly wonderful film that will awaken one’s love of one of the greatest of art-forms, film.  I think people tend to forget that film is an art-form and must be given the same respect and love as paintings, sculpture and other treasures that we find in an art gallery.  Fitting that the screening was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

This film is not for just hard-core movie-buffs or film critics.   Movies can bridge the great divide between cultural and people groups, if only we extend the olive branch and take a chance on a movie suggestion.  How many times have you resisted seeing a movie because you think it’s “not for you” only to find out, once you watch it, that your life will never be the same?  I vividly remember being 17 years old and wanting to show my sister Baz Luhrman’s version of “Romeo & Juliet” — she wanted to watch Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects.”  We argued back and forth about what we would watch that night, and I reluctantly gave in.  I didn’t know at the time, but that movie changed how I view and respect film and film-makers.

This movie however, is infinitely important.  As one of the interviewees points out in the film: movies are a great historical tool.  We can view a film fifty years after its creation and experience the cultural climate of the time period.  It is a live, historical artifact.  A thousand years from now, if the human race is still present in the universe, they will turn to films to recreate the past.  We must leave them something to reference.

This film made me laugh, gasp, cry and ultimately renewed my passion for movies.  I think that everyone should see this film – it is important!  It will be broadcast on PBS on December 29th.  See this link for other Screenings, hopefully in your town!

Thank you to the Indy Film Fest for choosing this film as the Closing Night Selection for the IIFF 2011.  Thank you to Kurt Norton, co-director of the film, who joined us via Skype for a brief Q&A session (I asked the 2nd question).  Thank you to the film-makers, producers, editors and to the interviewees, including the selection committee for the National Film Registry.

  1. Kurt Norton says:

    Thank you so much for your kind comment at the Indy Film Festival post screening Q&A. It was a wonderful surprise to find out it was you. And, thank you for your really thoughtful write-up. We think you should nominate “The Usual Suspects” to the National Film Registry! Email Donna Ross at the Library of Congress – dross@loc.gov

    We completely agree with you that movies can bridge the divide between people. There are so many issues and fears that divide us all these days. The simple communal experience of watching a movie in a theater or with friends and family at home can be a moment when we put aside our differences and celebrate our shared stories – for as Dr. Billington says, “Stories unite us – theories divide us.”

    We really appreciate your support of “These Amazing Shadows.”
    Kurt Norton

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