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Dick Blau, United States


Milwaukee Night and Day is a film that Blau has spun out of the 1,000 pictures he’s made on block where he lives in the very center of Milwaukee — at the intersection of Plankinton and Wisconsin Aves— over the last ten years. It is the newest version of what he calls his “730 Project,” named after the building where he lives.

Blau says, “When I first made my pictures, my thought was to register Everything notable around me at all times of the day and night and in all the seasons — to look intently at things as different as the weather, the pavement, and  the protests. When I came to make this film, my idea was to tease out the strands of thought and feeling  inside or underneath the  images that I’d made and spin them into an allusive, an atmospheric story that took the form of a Joycean day.  To do this, I decided I would really try to make my pictures move — or appear to move — and see if I could make them into a real movie, not just the usual slide show. And that I would do so by playing with every card in the still picture deck.

Of course, I also wanted to listen. To listen to the sounds on the streets and to those in my head. In fact, I wanted to make a film that was also a piece of music. Not a film that used music to set the mood. I wanted Milwaukee Night and Day to become, through image and edit,  another voice in a larger  composition. A composition in which we — my brilliant editor Yinan Wang, and musician friends Nii Noi Nortey, Niii Otoo Annan, Alex Coke, Tom Guralnick, and  (Macarthur Fellow) Steve Feld — together explore the beauty, pathos, and turmoil of Milwaukee at a certain moment in time.”

© Dick Blau
Length: 18:21
Sound and editing: Yinan Wang
Music: Nii Noi Nortey, Niii Otoo Annan, Alex Coke, Tom Guralnick, and Steve Feld
May be viewed full screen

Dick Blau has a BA from Harvard in English and a PhD from Yale in American Studies. He is the author of six photo books and a number of films on subjects ranging from interpersonal family dynamics to the music and culture of the Roma of northern Greece. Dick is also known as co-founder of the internationally ranked UWM Film Department, which he chaired from 1980-2000. During his career as a teacher, Dick has attracted a great many gifted students, among them is Chris Smith, whose MFA thesis, American Movie won the Grand Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and was listed by the New York Times as one the the best 1000 movies ever made.

Yinan Wang was born and raised in Beijing. He is a filmmaker, photographer, occasional stop-motion-animator. In China, Yinan studied visual arts and film, making documentaries about minority cultures there. In 2013 he transferred to UWM where he finished up his BFA degree in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Now he is working on his MFA at Temple University.

He is currently living in Milwaukee, teaching online for Temple, and working on his MFA thesis, a study of Chinese immigrants in the US.

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