Town Destroyer

First show: November 04

“How an historical mural upset the cultural balance 80 years later… remarkably perceptive … may well be the all-time most hot-button item in Kaufman and Snitow’s toolkit. “
– Kelly Vance, East Bay Express.

Filmmaker Q&As with guests all week!

Is art’s role to provoke or placate? What happens when it no longer reflects current societal views? These questions and many more were the subject of hot debate when Victor Arnautoff’s thirteen-panel mural “The Life of Washington” became an object of local controversy, then a media firestorm. On display since San Francisco’s George Washington High School opened in 1936, it offers a view of the Founding Father both celebratory and critical, referencing his involvements in slavery and Native American genocide. (The Iroquois dubbed him “Town Destroyer.”) But some present-day students, parents, and observers found those depictions racially offensive, calling for the work to be removed or destroyed. Would doing so be a “redaction of history,” “identity politics gone off the rails”—or a justified blow to a lingering American “colonized mentality” as well as ongoing “traumatization” of young minds? Longtime Bay Area documentarians Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman interview historians, artists, activists, and GWHS students to probe a fascinating microcosm of today’s culture wars. – Mill Valley Film Festival.

US 2022, 55 min, Director: Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman.

Fri. Nov. 4th
Q & A with filmmakers Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman!
Sat. Nov. 5th
Benefit for Precita Eyes Muralists – Q & A with filmmakers + Precita Eyes founder Susan Cervantes
Sun. Nov. 6th
Benefit for The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone – Q & A with filmmakers + Jonathan Cordero, chair of Ramaytush Ohlone peoples
Weds Nov. 9th
Benefit for California Institute for Community, Arts & Nature -Q & A with filmmakers + speakers TBA
Thurs Nov. 10th
Benefit for The Living New Deal – Q & A with filmmakers + speakers TBA

“A fascinating overview of a case that encapsulates many of the bitterest divisions of our era… After seeing the film, you will most likely be jonesing to see Arnautoff’s magnum opus in person”- Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

“How do we handle public art that depicts ugly historical truths…that no longer reflects current social values?” – G. Allen Johnson, SF Chronicle

“TOWN DESTROYER makes you stop and think — which is a brave and even dangerous thing to do in today’s America.” David Talbot, New York Times bestselling author of “The Devil’s Chessboard” and “Season of the Witch”

“Fiery, Nuanced, Remarkable.”  San Francisco Examiner


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Town Destroyer: Upcoming Showtimes