Timeline

Young James BlueOctober 10, 1930  Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma

1942 After several years of financial struggles, Blue family moves to Portland, Oregon

1948-1953 B.A. Degree in Speech and Theater at University of Oregon, Eugene OR

1953-1955 Drafted and served In the army at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas

1955-1956 Graduate Work in the Department of Theater, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

1956-1958 Studied cinematography at L’lnstitut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHC), Paris, France

1959-1962 Worked for Les Studios Africa (Georges Derocles) in Algiers/Algeria, a private company from which the French government often ordered films. Blue produced seven short films, silent farces mainly intended for the Muslim population, and the documentary Amal (1960), commissioned by the French government.

1961-1962 Co-author and director of Les Oliviers de la Justice, produced by Les Studios Africa (Georges Derocles) and based on a novel by Jean Pélégri. This sole fiction feature film by Blue won the Prix de la Société des écrivains de cinéma et de télévision (séléction: Hommes et Cinéma) at the 1962 Festival de Cannes.

1962-1968 Five documentary films for the film division (director: George Stevens, Jr.) of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Blue directed the “Colombian Trilogy” on the Alliance for Progress – the three short films A Letter from Colombia (1962), The School at Rincon Santo{]262) and Evil Wind Ouf (1962) – and also The March (1963-1964) about the civil rights March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs, August 28,1963. His last docu­mentary, A Few Notes on Our Food Problem(1968), on the improvement of worldwide agricultural production, was Blue’s first color film; it was nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar) for Documentary Feature in 1969, was awarded the CINE (Council on International Non-theatrical Events) “Golden Eagle” and the prize for the Best Documentary, Best Color Cinematography at the 11th International Film Festival Vancouver.

1964 Grant from the Ford Foundation for a research project on film-making consisting of interviews with interna­tional directors, starting with Albert and David Maysles. Initially, Blue was interested in the use of non-actors, cinéma verité and Direct Cinema style.

1964-1980 Later Blue extended this interview project to include historians, critics, new ethnographic documentary film­makers and actors. Up to his death, Blue conducted more than 75 interviews.

Teaching fellow for film-making at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Contributed several essays and interviews to the magazine Film Comment (Blue was one of the cornerstones of its editorial staff)

1964 Teaching fellow at the Center for Advanced Film Studies, American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles. Blue set up its facility and assisted in organizing its curriculum.

1970- late 1970s Faculty member of the Media Center, first located at St. Thomas College, Houston, and later at Rice University, Houston, TX. The Media Center, where Blue inaugurated the film-making program, was founded by Gerald O’Grady with funding from Jean and Dominique de Ménil. Blue was its Co-Director (together with David MacDougall) from 1970-1975.

1971-1974 Co-Director (together with David MacDougall) of the pioneering five-part ethnographic film project Kenya Boran. It was part of the Faces of Change project, a collaboration between anthropologists and film-makers that included 25 films shot in countries like Afghanistan and Bolivia, produced by the American University Field Staff under director Norman Miller and funded by the National Science Foundation.

1972 Member of the Public Media Advisory Committee of the National Endowments of the Arts (NEA). In following years Blue served on a number of its committees and was recipient of two of its production grants.

1976 Initiator (together with Ed Hugetz) of the weekly television series The Territory, starting with a grant from the NEA as film-maker-in-residence. The program at the public television station KUHT-TV, Channel 8 in Houston, began broadcasting in 1977, featuring independent films, videos and digital arts with an emphasis on Southwestern media artists, and is still operating to this day.

1976-1980 With the documentaries Who Killed Fourth Ward? (1976-1977) and The Invisible City (1979-1980), Blue developed the Complex Urban Documentary, a process-oriented documentary film style for local television employing formal experimentation, interactive elements and audience feedback.

1977 Founded the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), an independent non-profit media arts center in Hous­ton intended to create audiences and opportunities for regional film and video-making (still operating today) Lecture series “The Documentary Impulse” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York Initiator (together with Producer Lynn Corcoran) and Executive Producer of the television series The Frontier, broadcast on the public television station WNED-TV, Channel 17 in Buffalo. The program showcased the work of independent video- and film-makers from Western New York and Southern Ontario.

1977 Lecture series “The Documentary Impulse” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

1979 Initiator (together with Producer Lynn Corcoran) and Executive Producer of the television series The Frontier, broadcast on the public television station WNED-TV, Channel 17 in Buffalo.  The program showcased the work of independent video and film-makers from Western New York and Southern Ontario.

James Blue 1980 London (photo by David MacDougall)

James Blue 1980 London (photo by David MacDougall)

1977-1980 Professor for Documentary Film at the Department of Media Study, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, NY

1980 Taught film-making at the National Film School of Great Britain, London, (invited by the director Colin Young)

June 14, 1980: James Blue dies in Buffalo, NY

(Timeline adapted from Buffalo Heads, ZKM, 2008, edited by Woody Vasulka and Peter Weibel)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *