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Peter Kubelka surprises Ira Cohen


P Adams Sitney, one of my oldest friends
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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P Adams Sitney was studying at Yale, I think, when he came. I was running... when I met him first, I was running the Charles Theatre. That was '61 and I think that's when I met him for the first time. He was already publishing Film Wise, very irregular publication, each issue was devoted to a different film-maker. He had already published, I think, one on my... Willard Maas and Maria Meken and then he was preparing one on Maya Deren, that's when I met him.

He was 17, I think, or 18. He was an amazingly bright young person. Actually, when we went in December '64 during the... in Knokke-Le-Zoute in Belgium, we went together, we took some films including Flaming Creatures and Barbara Rubin came with us to the Experimental Film Festival, what it was called, and of course it became a big scandal, they refused to show the film. I resigned from the jury and we tried to do everything to screen the film, but it was P Adams Sitney who made the sort of defending statements on the film and later Jacques Ledoux who was the head of the Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, said, 'Yes, we had many discoveries during these festival, Flaming Creatures and other, but the main discovery was P Adams Sitney'. And he was only like 19, that's all, around that time and they were all amazed. In any case, I invited him immediately to join me to help me on the Film Culture magazine and we have... and he continued, of course, exploring that direct concentrating on the avant-garde film and publishing books on it and he's now at the University of Princeton, teaching film and literature. Amazingly bright person and knowledgeable in cinema and literature and one of my oldest friends.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: Charles Theatre, Film Wise, Flaming Creatures, Experimental Film Festival, Film Culture, P Adams Sitney, Willard Maas, Maria Meken, Maya Deren, Barbara Rubin, Jacques Ledoux

Duration: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010