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Filmmaker is fall artist in residence

August 27, 2001

Noted documentary filmmaker Tony Buba will be the Arts Institute interdisciplinary artist in residence this fall.

Public programming includes screenings and discussions of his films presented in collaboration with local labor groups, Sept. 20-22 and special broadcasts on Wisconsin Public Television. In addition to outreach activities, he will teach two filmmaking courses, “Documentary Video: Exploring Wisconsin Life” and “Personal Documentary Film and Video Workshop.”

Based in Pittsburgh, Buba has made more than 20 films exploring working-class issues and his Italian-American roots in and around his hometown since 1974. His award-winning “Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steel Workers (1996)” premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS. A documentary of industrial racism, “Struggles” features interviews with more than 70 African-American workers whose stories had never been told. The film was initiated and co-produced by Ray Henderson, a former steelworker, union grievance man and community activist who began taking oral histories from African-American steelworkers in the 1970s.

“Lightning over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy” (1998) established Buba as an innovator of the “exploded” documentary — fusing social documentary, autobiography and whimsical fiction — and won numerous awards, including Best Film at the Birmingham International Film Festival in England and an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for best first feature film.

Buba began his career with “The Braddock Chronicles,” a dozen short documentary portraits of the stubborn signs of life in a dying milltown. Buba followed this with “Voices From a Steeltown” (1983). Additional films include the fictional feature “No Pets” (1994), an exploration of working-class life based on a short story by Jim Daniels.

Buba’s work has been showcased in one-person shows at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Carnegie Museum of Art and more than 100 museums and universities. His awards include fellowships from the National Education Association and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations; and grants from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts named him artist of the year in 1998.

Buba will be in residence at UW–Madison under the auspices of the university’s Arts Institute Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program, in which world-class artists teach interdepartmental, for-credit courses during semester-long residencies, and perform or exhibit work for campus and community audiences. The Department of Communication Arts is sponsoring his residency in collaboration with the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Wisconsin Public Television.

Governed by arts faculty and staff, the Arts Institute represents all the arts on campus and makes the arts more visible and effective at UW–Madison. The Arts Institute funds and supports projects with university and communitywide impact, including artists residencies, awards and fellowships, public programs, and arts marketing and outreach.

Artist in residence programs

  • Thursday, Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m., Buba lectures on his work and career, 4070 Vilas. 7 p.m., screening of “Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers,” (1996, 85 min.), Majestic Theatre, 115 King St. Followed by audience discussion with Buba; co-producer Raymond Henderson; and others.
  • Friday, Sept. 21, noon-1:15 p.m. “”Struggles in Steel’: Personal History and Documentary Filmmaking.” A brown-bag lunch and informal discussion with Buba and others. Multicultural Student Center, Red Gym second floor, 716 Langdon St.
  • Saturday, Sept. 22, 3 p.m., screening of “Lightning over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy” (1998, 80 min.), 4070 Vilas. Followed by audience discussion with Buba.

Tags: arts