Speaking Directly is an essay-film making for a kind of State
of the Nation address, from the perspective of someone other than the
President of the United States, circa 1972-4. This film addresses both
the political and cultural situation of the US at the height of the
Viet Nam war, Watergate and its aftermath, and likewise addresses the
personal life, in this context, of the filmmaker, at that time thirty
years of age, recently out of two plus years in federal prison for refusal
to accept military service.
1973-1974 | 16mm | Color | Sound | 110 minutes
Producer, writer, director, editor cinematographer
: Jon Jost
Assistance sound recording, animation and much more: Elayne Ketchum
Shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival, 1975.
In the collections of MoMA, Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek
(FdK), British Film Institute (BFI), Australian Film Institute, Portuguese
Broadcast by UK’s Channel Four, 1981
"I can think of no other film like it. As a radical critique of American
in the early 70's it is as essential a document, in a way, as the collectively
made Winter Soldier... although the experiences it bears witness to are
distinctly different (Jost was imprisoned in Federal custody from March
1965 through June 1967 for draft resistance.)"
- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment
"Far and away the most inspired feature by the tenacious US independent
Jon Jost, Speaking Directly is a reflexive film about Jost's attempt to
make a reflexive film during the Vietnam War. Despite its importance,
the movie has surfaced here only rarely during the decade since it was
- Jim Hoberman, Village Voice
"In the history of the American avant-garde, Speaking Directly stands
as a remarkable achievement: between the currents of pure cinema and "committed"
documentary/fiction, it asserts a deliberate primitivism, a return to
the ideological roots of American radicalism. As such, it also bears comparison
with Godard's Le Gai Savoir, another discourse on method which refuses
to take for granted what we think we know."
- Ian Christie, Sight and Sound
"The worlds worst film?...This film is best viewed with the
sound turned down and without your glasses. If you don't wear glasses,
try it with the sound turned down and wearing your mothers glasses.
(That will also be a lot better for your mother and you do love your
mother don't you?)"
- John O'Connor, review found on-line. Read the full
review on John's personal Webpage.