I use films on 16mm, so I am not familiar with video availability. That said,
I get tired of teaching "Birth" as well and, last semester, I substituted
"Orphans of the Storm" which went down quite well. "Intolerance" is tough for
them to take.
I use a fascinating 1917 Tourneur called "A Girl's Folly" It is not a popular
favorite, but it is charming and its setting in the film studios of Fort Lee,
NJ is irreplaceable.
There is also a film in the Library of Congress that I use sometimes called
"The Italian" (1914) It is an Ince production and is a sensational film about
Italian immigrants in New York. It is especially compelling to students who
are fixated by Scorsese, Coppola, Tarrentino and other contemporary
film-makers who appear to have been influenced by it (sometimes second-hand).
I use the Griffith Biographs to illustrate Griffith's emerging techniques as
well. But, I do find it necessary to show "Birth" from time to time, although
I introduce it very carefully and try to put into a real context. I have had
no real objections.
Gene Stavis - School of Visual Arts, NYC