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MEDIUM COOL | Dir. Haskell Wexler | 1969 | 111 min

Haskell Wexler’s feature debut, Medium Cool immerses the viewer into one of the most tumultuous times in 1960s Chicago. Starring Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, and Peter Bonerz, the film follows TV news cameraman, John Cassellis (Forster) as he captures daring footage of the social unrest in Chicago surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention. His ability to maintain professional detachment is challenged when he discovers that the TV network has been quietly cooperating with the FBI; igniting in Cassellis the need to join the fight against the establishment. 

Medium Cool is the third “Wexler” film that forms our Spotlight Series on American cinematographers Gordon Willis and Haskell Wexler. To learn more about our Spotlight Series, read our Whitepaper written by Cinematheque Board Member and Programmer Felicia Glatz:

EXCERPT: “Medium Cool, Wexler’s ultimate film appeared in 1969. He financed, directed, loosely wrote, and shot it during the 1968 Democratic convention mummifying the riotous demonstrations that enveloped Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. The footage he collected became the explosive climax for his spontaneous and largely improvised depiction of a TV cameraman John Cassellis (Robert Foster) capturing and meditating upon the imagery of his time. Wexler’s cameraman ushers us through the chaotic and authentically uncontrolled public demonstrations. Working off of a cobbled script at best, Medium Cool is less about narrative than it is a barometer of the political climate, this is perhaps the key to understanding it as a key cultural text. As Roger Ebert insists, ‘To understand it is to understand Wexler's structure and purpose. To understand the way Medium Cool is put together is to understand something about the way real events get transferred onto film. That's Medium Cool's message on the level of story.’”

- To read the whole White Paper click HERE.

Awards
Directors Guild of America, USA 1970 - Nominated (DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures | Haskell Wexler)
Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival 1969 - Won (Grand Prize, Haskell Wexler) Tied with 322 (1969).
National Film Preservation Board, USA 2003 - Won (National Film Registry)
National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA 1970 - Nominated (NSFC Award, Best Actress | Verna Bloom, Best Supporting Actress | Verna Bloom, Best Cinematography | Haskell Wexler)

Medium Cool is the third selection in our SPOTLIGHT: WILLIS AND WEXLER series.