Noted Filmmaker Introduces Two of His Own Documentaries on May 18 as Part of the Free Fellows Film Series

For Immediate Release

April 26, 2006

The “Fellows’ Favorites Films” series concludes its spring program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute with Clark Fellow Charles Musser introducing two of own his documentary films, Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter and An American Potter, on Thursday, May 18. In this series, Clark Fellows choose a film for which they have a particular fondness, realize as special, or find inspiring, and give a short introductory talk preceding each screening. This free series is held on selected Thursdays at 7:30 pm in the Clark’s auditorium.

Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter (1982, 60 minutes) focuses on the work of Edwin S. Porter. Since little is known of Porter's personal life, the emphasis is on his technique and contributions to the art of the cinema. This film also serves as a documentary on the origins of the American cinema; Porter's work is showcased in the context of the whole American cinema of his day, from Mutoscope parlors to the advent of the projected image.

An American Potter (1976, 36 minutes) is an entertaining and informative documentary exploring the life and work of a New Hampshire potter, Gerry Williams. The focus of the film is on the four stages of Williams' development as a potter: His roots (he was born in India), his development and mastery of traditional techniques, his expansion of these techniques through the innovative use of technology, and finally the increasingly self-conscious use of the potter's technique within a political and ecological context. Williams demonstrates that the potter can be innovative and still make effective use of his traditions.

Musser is professor of American studies and film studies at Yale University. He is a preeminent scholar of early American cinema, and the author of the prize-winning books The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907 and Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Musser was assistant director of the Oscar Award-winning 1974 film Hearts and Minds. His book project while a Fellow at the Clark is entitled Film, Truth, Documentary Practice: A History and explores the complex, troubled, and unstable relationship between art and documentary.

The Clark announced 14 fellows for the 2005-2006 academic year. Fellowships are awarded to national and international scholars, critics, and museum professionals whose work extends and enhances the understanding of the visual arts and their role in culture. The program encourages a critical commitment to research in the theory, history, and interpretation of works from all periods and genres.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


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