Time and Dreams by alumnus Mort Jordan (TFM ‘75) is among twenty-five films selected in 2017 for the National Film Registry. The films are chosen for their cultural, historic and/or aesthetic importance by the National Film Preservation Board and the Librarian of Congress. Jordan’s film, made while he was a student at Temple University, explores the racially divided societies of his hometown.
Time and Dreams was brought to the attention of the Board by Leonard Guercio, manager of Temple’s Digital Cinema Lab, and defacto archivist of the Department of Film and Media Arts’ print collection. Former Temple Professor Ben Levin, cinematopher Caleb Deschanel and producer John Ptak headed a subcommittee to tasked with finding quality student films for the registry and solicited suggestions from Guercio, a former colleague of Levin’s.
“Mort's film was one that immediately came to mind because of its simple, straightforward honesty in dealing with the long-standing issue of race in the US, specifically through the perspective of an Alabamian,” reports Guercio.
Time and Dreams is a personal journey back to Jordan’s Alabama home contrasts two societies: the nostalgia some residents have for past values versus the deferred dreams of those who are well past waiting for their time to fully participate in the promise of their own dreams. Through vignettes and personal testimonies, the film portrays Greene County, Alabama, as its people move toward understanding and cooperation in a time of social change.
“In 1971, Greene County's all-white administration was replaced with the country's first all-black administration,” explains Jordan. “After talking with newly elected Judge William Branch and Sheriff Tom Gilmore, I decided to make this historic development the subject of my MFA thesis film.”
Library of Congress calls it “a unique and personal elegiac approach to the civil rights movement.”
“In the course of living in Greene County for an extended period, the film evolved into an introspective piece,” recalls Jordan, “narrated largely by some of the local white citizens, regarding the region's past, its present and the path into the future.”
In reflecting about his time at Temple, Jordan says attending the MFA program was was one of the most important decisions of his life. “That importance goes far beyond the production skills I acquired there. Temple also better prepared me for navigating through life, for seeing and for understanding," he states.
Jordan was honored and humbled by the selection of Time and Dreams for the National Film Registry. He also views the distinction as an honor for Temple University too. He adds, “And, I'm happy for Greene County, knowing that a document of a time and place will be preserved and available in perpetuity.”
Time and Dreams is one of fewer than ten student films included in the National Film Registry which to date has 725 titles. Additional films selected this year include The Goonies, Titanic and Field of Dreams.