Program Info

Sunday, October 21
2:00 pm + 4:00 pm

$8 members + students
$10 nonmembers



What We Need Is the Impossible


Introduction by Sam Green
Q+A with the director follows each screening  

This full-length program of short films (video, 80 min.) by Academy Award–nominated director Sam Green includes his latest documentary video, The Universal Language, which traces the history of Esperanto, a new language created in the late 1800s by a Polish doctor who believed that if everyone in the world spoke a common tongue, humanity could overcome racism and war. During the early 20th century, hundreds of thousands of people around the world embraced the dialect and believed in its ideals. Today, surprisingly, a vibrant Esperanto movement still exists. In this first-ever documentary about Esperanto, Green creates a portrait that is at once humorous, poignant, stirring, and ultimately hopeful.

Other films in this program include The Fabulous Stains: Behind the Movie (1999), lot 63, grave c (2006), Clear Glasses (2008), and a special presentation of Design for a Fair, Peter Chermayeff's tour de force portrait of Buckminster Fuller's dome at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal.

Filmmaker Sam Green tells us more about Esperanto and the making of The Universal Language

ICA: Which Esperanto community (or communities) did you speak with? What seemed to be the driving force behind these communities—a shared sense of optimism and global-mindedness? A desire/curiosity to communicate with others? Something else?

SG: I went several times to the World Esperanto Congress. This is where many of the world's Esperanto speakers come together— these Congresses take place in a different city each year and have been happening since 1905. I went to one in Yokohama, Japan, and another in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.  I was surprised each time to see two or three thousand Esperanto speakers from all over the world. These congresses were pretty striking for me. First of all, I realized there's really nowhere else where you are going to see such a totally diverse mix of people all coming together on an equal footing. Maybe the UN, but that's not just regular people. The other thing I was struck by is that almost across the board, people in the Esperanto movement are nice. They are friendly folks— I mean why else would you travel halfway around the world just to talk to other people? I feel like there's a certain idealism that Esperanto-speakers share. After all, it was the dream of Ludwig Zamenhof, the guy who created the language back in 1887, that Esperanto might help bring about world peace. Although some Esperantists (as they call themselves) say they are drawn to the language for practical reasons: it's good for traveling and opens the door to a community of pen-pals.

ICA: Is Esperanto more of a mindset than a language? Or does the language actually help create bonds and understanding between people in these communities?

SG: That's a good question, and the answer is really both: Esperanto is a language, but it also is a mindset. People are drawn to the language for wide range of reasons. Some people are real believers in the dream behind Esperanto. Like I said, other Esperanto speakers just see it as a practical way to connect with friends all over the world. Whatever the motivation, I do think that Esperanto does create understanding between speakers. Being at the World Esperanto Congresses in some ways was like walking into a photo-shoot for some slightly corny diversity campaign: there were people from Nepal talking people from Iran, and people from New Caledonia talking to people from Brazil. But the thing is, it was all real! It was very striking, and actually inspiring as well.

ICA: Could you tell us more about the other films that will be presented in the program?

SG: I'm also going to be showing a short film about the world's largest shopping mall, which is in China and is definitely not what you would imagine it to be like. There's another movie about Meredith Hunter, the teenager who was killed by Hells Angels at the Rolling Stones' Altamont rock in 1969. There's a short film about a pair of glasses that Mark Rudd from the Weather Underground sent to me as a gift. And there'll also be a special, extra bonus film in the program. It's called Design for a Fair and it's about the fantastic Buckminster Fuller-inspired dome that was built at the World Expo in Montreal in 1967. This film is mind-bogglingly gorgeous. It was made by one of the designers of the dome—a guy named Peter Chermayeff, who actually lives in Boston and is going to be at the screening! I'm very excited about that. You definitely don't want to miss this film.

"The Universal Language" - excerpt from Utopia on Vimeo.



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Name:Sam Green: What We Need Is the Impossible
Date:October 21, 2012 02:00 PM –
October 21, 2012 03:20 PM
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