75th Anniversary Screening of "The River"
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh was the site on October 30 for a special screening of the Pare Lorentz documentary “The River.” The presentation in the Reeve Memorial Union Theater marked the 75th anniversary of the debut this landmark film.
“The River” was written and directed by Lorentz for the Farm Security Administration and won the World Prize for Best Documentary Picture at the Venice Festival in 1938, the same year that President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him chief of the U.S. Film Service. “The River” pioneered the application of a variety of audiovisual techniques and the presentation of a social message in the documentary format, and its script was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. It was named to the National Registry of the Library of Congress in 1990. Lorentz produced other notable films during his career, was a newspaper film critic, magazine editor, author and a special correspondent for the Washington Post.
The screening of “The River” was introduced by Dr. Robert J. Snyder of UW-Platteville, the son of Dr. Robert L. Snyder, who was Lorentz’s biographer and the founder of the Radio-TV-Film program at UW Oshkosh. Lorentz’s work was the subject of the elder Snyder’s doctoral dissertation and their long friendship resulted in Lorentz donating much of his professional output to UW Oshkosh. Lorentz also was a guest artist in residence at the Oshkosh campus in 1966. In November 1971, Lorentz was honored with the first-ever honorary professorship from UW Oshkosh for his contribution to the film industry and his leadership in that field.
UWO students, faculty and staff attended the screening, which included an analysis of the techniques used in one passage of the film.
The event was co-sponsored by the International Film Series at UWO and the UW Oshkosh Radio TV Film program.