In 1980, Oregon’s first Academy Award nominee and Cannes Critics Prize Winning film director James Blue died at the age of 49, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. A rebel, a storyteller, a world citizen, an award-winning filmmaker and a revered educator, Blue’s life and work continue to influence filmmakers, artists and agents of social change. Now, thanks to the collaboration of the Blue family and the University of Oregon, Blue’s own voice will be heard and seen in perpetuity.
Introducing the James Blue Archive
The Blue family formally bequeaths the James Blue Deed of Gift to the University on Wednesday, April 29 at 4 p.m. at Cinema Pacific’s screening, The Films of James Blue: UO and Beyond. The event takes place at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in the Ford Lecture Room.
In celebration of the deposit of the James Blue Archive, Cinema Pacific presents a rare find: Blue’s 40-minute 8 mm parody of Hamlet, with a cast and crew of UO Drama students and friends, filmed in 1951-52. Blue’s Hamlet was a huge sensation when it screened to an audience of more than 2,000 in the UO Student Union ballroom. Also on the program is a new documentary produced by Daniel Miller and Krysta Maksim titled Making the Invisible Visible: The Life and Art of James Blue. It is cosponsored by the James and Richard Blue Foundation.
“The mission of the foundation is not only to preserve and share James’ complete body of work, but to support film educators, filmmakers, researchers and students whose values and activities advance his vision of participatory media,” said Richard Blue, James’ brother. “His life work has left a legacy of profound implications for social justice as he documented the hopes and dreams of people whose voices are rarely—if ever—heard by people in power. James had an innate belief that ‘democracy demanded that our public media be more diverse in giving access to a variety of new voices.’”
The second annual James Blue Award is presented to Jeremy Teicher
On Thursday, April 30 at 6:45 p.m., the James and Richard Blue Foundation presents the second annual James Blue Award to filmmaker Jeremy Teicher at the Bijou Art Cinemas, 492 E. 13th Ave, Eugene. Teicher directed the highly-acclaimed triumph, Tall as the Baobab Tree, a neorealistic semi-documentary that engaged the native Senegal population in its creation. Directed and produced in the democratic, socially-engaged style of James Blue’s work, the film offers a powerful voice from Africa’s young generation, poignantly depicting a family struggling to find its footing at the outer edge of the modern world. The foundation recognizes Teicher for working collaboratively with Senegalese villagers to tell their stories about the impact of modernization. Teicher, who graduated from Dartmouth, now resides in Eugene where he is directing a narrative feature, Tracktown.
James Blue Respecting Diversity Education Program
To further Blue’s legacy around social justice, the Foundation plans to launch the James Blue Respecting Diversity Education Program with curriculum for teaching diversity through Blue’s documentaries. The foundation will work with educators to provide a package of diversity education materials and selected Blue films including The March, School at Rincon Santo, and others. The purpose is to strengthen understanding and acceptance among primary and middle school children of a multicultural and diverse nation. The foundation is currently developing funding to prepare, promote and administer the diversity curriculum.
“It is one thing to honor and make available the James Blue Archive, it is another to find a way to adapt its films and content to education regarding the current enduring social issues of a diverse America,” says Richard Blue. “This country has a unique opportunity to be truly multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious if we get it right. Not easy, but we have to try.”
Learn more about the James Blue Project at the University of Oregon.
About the James and Richard Blue Foundation
The mission of the James and Richard Blue Foundation is to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of award-winning filmmaker James Blue (1930—1980) and to support film educators, filmmakers, researchers and students whose values and activities advance his vision of ‘participatory media.’ James Blue was an unconventional documentarian who used film to help marginalized communities tell their own stories while helping audiences better understand the complexities of the human condition. His life’s work had profound implications for social justice as he documented the hopes and dreams of people whose voices are rarely—if ever—heard by people in power. One of Blue’s most inspiring films, “The March” (1964), is considered the essential documentary of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. The foundation has now bequeathed the entire body of James Blue’s works and memoirs to the University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The organization collaborates with the University of Oregon to preserve, conserve, restore and utilize the entire body of James Blue’s media legacy while supporting education in the art and craft of documentary filmmaking. The foundation aims to advance the core values of James Blue’s passion for using media to explore, connect and empower voiceless communities by awarding annual grants to students and emerging filmmakers who exemplify his artistry. For more on James Blue and his contributions to international film, visit www.JamesBlue.org, http://jamesblue.uoregon.edu/, www.jamesbluetribute.com.