SWAMP'S HISTORY

James Blue (October 10, 1930 – June 14, 1980) was a filmmaker. His most notable films were Les oliviers de la justice (literal English title The Olive Trees of Justice) (1962, US), A Few Notes on Our Food Problem (1968) and The March (1964). Les oliviers de la justice was given the Prix de la Société des Écrivains de Cinéma et de Télévision award (Critics Prize) at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. A Few Notes on our Food Problem received an Academy Award nomination for best feature documentary. The March was added to the National Film Registry in 2008.

James Blue first taught at UCLA in 1964 and in the first classes offered by the American Film Institute. Among his students were Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Thom Andersen, and Jim Morrison. In August 1969 he took part in the Creative Arts Conference sponsored by United States International University, San Diego, California. The Conference was a twelve-day series of lectures by ten artists and writers including James Blue, Richard Brautigan, Don Carpenter, Stephen Schneck, Michael McClure, Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Mike Ahnemann, Denis Sanders, and Jim Morrison. Blue showed Olive Trees of Justice and Morrison showed his Feast of Friends. Blue began at Rice University in Houston in 1970. He was brought to Houston by Gerald O’Grady, who wrote “I invited James Blue to formulate the film curriculum at The Media Center in Houston, which later moved to Rice University where I had taught earlier.” Blue continued at Rice as co-director with Gerald O’Grady of the Media Center. In a 1976 article Blue wrote “Instead of training people for a more than doubtful Hollywood career, we can channel them towards this awakening of a community conscience. There’s plenty of work for everyone.” Filmmakers were brought in to the Media Center to conduct meetings and workshops periodically in order to engage and introduce students, faculty and community to direct cinema film making. Among them were Colin Young, then Dean of Arts at UCLA, the film director Roberto Rossellini, and Frantisek Daniel, director of the Prague Film School. Blue encouraged all students to see themselves as filmmakers. The Media Center received federal grants to purchase 8mm film and editing equipment with the intent for it to be made available to use by the public. One of Blue’s purposes was to create “citizen filmmakers.” He also started, with Ed Hugetz, the Southwest Alternate Media Project, in 1977. In 1978 he took a teaching position in the Department of Media Study at SUNY, Buffalo, NY. In 1980 he was interviewed by Anthony Bannon of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. To a question about why he preferred documentary over fiction he replied “I had a feeling that there was something magical about film that was not being used. An element that had not been fully exploited was its capacity to make art and meaning out of images out of the real world. And I felt that there was an incredible poetry in that, let alone the significance of the document. It was always more extraordinary for me to find things poetically than to invent them.” (Source: Wikipedia)

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ncorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit media arts center in 1977, SWAMP is Houston’s premier creative resource for filmmakers and film lovers. SWAMP promotes film and new media through education, information, and presentation activities for all ages.