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Michael Roemer Returns to Yale as An Acclaimed Filmmaker and Former Professor

Michael Roemer Returns to Yale as An Acclaimed Filmmaker and Former Professor

Michael Roemer, a renowned filmmaker, and former Yale lecturer will be returning to the university this Saturday for the showing of two of his narrative features.

As part of the ongoing series “Treasures of the Yale Film Archive,” presented in collaboration with the Whitney Humanities Center, on Saturday, October 8 at 1 and 4 p.m., the films “Vengeance is Mine” (1984) and “The Plot Against Harry” (1989) will be shown.

Carlos Valladares GRD ’25, a doctorate student who assisted in planning the screening, told the News, “I treasure the opportunity of bringing the incredibly underrated Michael Roemer to campus.”

Roemer, who was born Jewish in Berlin in 1928, was sent to the United Kingdom via the Kindertransport in 1939. Prior to enrolling at Harvard University in 1945, he studied at a British school for displaced youth.

His first narrative movie, “Nothing But A Man,” premiered in 1964 and won three honors at the Venice Film Festival; Michael Roemer earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1949.

“His most famous picture, “Nothing But A Man” (1964), is an intelligent drama about an African American railway worker and a school teacher whose love he strains to embrace.

According to Brian Meacham, a film curator at the Yale Picture Archive, “the film… is recognized as one of the greatest, most observant films of its day to convey an African American subject.”

The Washington Post called it “one of the most sensitive documentaries on Black existence ever created in this country” and “devastatingly powerful.”

The comedic play The Plot Against Harry was written by Roemer in 1969, but it wasn’t released until 1989. Jewish ex-con Harry Plotnick (Harry Deitch) goes back to his old stomping grounds after doing his time.

“Michael Roemer grasps the soul of the films he makes and those he watches,” Dudley Andrew, a professor emeritus of comparative literature and film studies at Yale, wrote to the News about Roemer.

According to Valladares, “Vengeance is Mine,” a film created by Roemer for the American Playhouse PBS series in 1984, is a “very bizarre melodrama about a lost woman who is attempting to find a new family for herself after her original family has abandoned her.”

At Saturday’s event, Roemer will be joined by “Vengeance is Mine” star Brooke Adams to discuss the movie.

Roemer was an esteemed professor at Yale from the early 1970s until his retirement in 2017.

According to Andrew, “I listen to his every word since it is evident he listens to others that way and then says only what counts.” In his seminars, “Yale undergraduates have been fortunate to develop a deep ‘cinema sensibility’ worth more than the technologies and procedures they initially assumed was the goal of film school.”

The Humanities Quadrangle viewing room will be the location for Roemer’s film showing.

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