Pie in the Sky - Nykino

Rental Format(s): Digital File

Co-makers: Elia Kazan, Elmam Koolish, Molly Day Thatcher, Russell Collins, Irving Lerner, and Ralph Steiner
Production: NYKINO
Original Format: 16mm silent film 1.37:1
Featuring Elia Kazan, Elman Koolish
New music: Donald Sosin

This satire on religious pretension was collaboration between the Group Theater and the newly formed Nykino. Its creation of a self-reflexive illusion within an illusion distinguishes it not only from the commercial cinema but from various arenas of experimental and revolutionary film that had developed by 1934. -Scott MacDonald

NYKINO (1934-1937) was a radical newsreel group centered around filmmakers Ralph Steiner, Irving Lerner, and Leo Hurwitz, who split away from the Film and Photo League. They felt the League's newsreels were "formless and as poorly made as the commercial reel." NYKINO released Pie in the Sky (1934) and the two-part, The World Today (1936). -Bruce Posner

Elia Kazan's (1909-2003), a giant of American theatre and cinema, first steps were at the New York based experimental collaborative Group Theater with Harold Clurman. Kazan went on to make several great Hollywood films including A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and On the Waterfront (1954) that reflect his earlier experiences with working class filmmaking. -Bruce Posner

Irving Lerner (1909-1976) was an accomplished, all-around filmmaker who could perform all aspects of production, camerawork, editing, sound recording, you-name-it. His '30s work for NYKINO, Frontier Films, and other independents and for the Office of War Information during W.W.II mark him as an influential member of classic American documentary film. -Cecile Starr/Bruce Posner

Ralph Steiner (1899-1986), educated at Dartmouth, became a successful commercial and much honored fine art photographer. He made perhaps the first American abstract film, H2O (1929), following it with other experiments, some political in nature, some in Hollywood. Steiner also photographed The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and co-directed and photographed The City (1939) with Willard Van Dyke. -Robert A. Haller

Willard Van Dyke (1906-1986), a photographer by age 12, formed in 1932 with Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham the pivotal West Coast photography group f/64. Moving East, he became a noted documentary film-maker working closely with Pare Lorentz and Ralph Steiner among others. Hands may be his first completed film. - Robert A. Haller

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