POV: How would you describe the film stylistically? Tell us about the aesthetic choices that you made.
Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno: Stylistically, the film is like a jazz piece of music in that it’s very impressionistic. It’s told in the voices of eyewitnesses and historians, and so it allows people to riff and improvise in their comments. We wanted to let our speakers complete each other’s sentences or pose counterpoints to each other. There isn’t a structure imposed in the way that a narration might have. We let the interviewees dictate the structure of the film and the archival footage.
The music that we chose to punctuate each of these pieces or underscore them is the work of over sixty pieces of music that were used from jazz artists emerging at the time. It was very appropriate to us and for this film, because jazz has such a long and important history in the city of Newark, and because we love jazz. In many ways, the film is edited like a jazz piece of music itself; my husband, Jerome, and I really wanted it to reflect the impressions and the feel of the period, and not specifically ’60s music.
We also decided to use animation when archival footage didn’t exist, to make the film entertaining and look like a moving picture textbook — something that was bold, invigorating, entertaining, larger than life in some cases — because that’s how we viewed the events.
Jerome Bongiorno was inspired by artist Jacob Lawrence in the animations that he created for “Revolution ’67.” This self-portrait was painted in 1977. Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1917.
POV: Tell us more about the animation that you used. Can you talk more about how you decided to use these images and the process of creating them?
Tibaldo-Bongiorno: My husband, Jerome, who edited Revolution ’67, created the graphics himself. He was highly influenced by the paintings of Jacob Lawrence. Jerome loved the colors and vibrancy of the animation and knew that they could appeal to an audience of young people that might not take to a standard documentary format, and who might find some kind of relevance in the animation that was telling a story that we couldn’t tell any other way. So the graphics in “Revolution ’67” became a large part of the storytelling process through experimentation. They became an integral part of the film, just as important as the archival footage.
POV: How did you find and collect all the archival footage for the film?
Tibaldo-Bongiorno: We were able to get the research and time-coded footage from Washington University, which had collected it from years of research. Then we had to find the original material — not time-coded — and many of the original sources don’t exist anymore.
The usual route of finding archival material is to go to a major stock footage house and say, “Let me have all your Newark riot footage.” We’re trying to find archival material that isn’t normally available via that route, because the houses are saying that some of the material no longer exists, and some of it is very critical and extremely rare. During this process of looking for footage we’ve realized that how history is recorded has become very important to us, because if you don’t have it, and it no longer exists, or photographs are just in personal collections and being lost, then how do we access this material?