Years ago, I invited Tony Buba to present his latest film, “Struggles in Steel: A Story of African American Steelworkers,” at the Politics and Languages of Contemporary Marxism conference.
His extraordinary body of work is currently being celebrated, with Tony Buba: The Bard of Braddock, at the Anthology Film Archives in New York.
One of the most singular, and egregiously overlooked, filmmakers in the U.S., Tony Buba is a national treasure, the prime representative of the blue-collar, populist, politically-committed yet outrageously entertaining American filmmaking movement that’s largely missing-in-action. A resident of Braddock, PA (located just outside Pittsburgh), a town that, like many others across the country, fell victim to the decimation of American industry over the past 50 years, experiencing a precipitous and tragic decline into poverty and abandonment, Buba has been making films about Braddock – shorts, features, documentaries, fictional narratives, you name it – since the early seventies. Displaying a passionate commitment to chronicling Braddock’s trajectory and an inspiring resourcefulness in making the films a reality, his body of work is an unparalleled record of a particular city, and of the plight of urban America in general. Heavy as that may sound, Buba’s profoundly good-natured sensibility, his boundless creativity, and his goofy sense of humor set his films far, far apart from most bleeding-heart, liberal filmmaking.