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The loyalty and friendship of Kenneth Anger


The film calendar of Hollis Frampton
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Hollis Frampton, I met him much, sort of, later. Already he had done, I think, very important work in cinema, but I did not meet him until maybe '67, '68. He sort of was hanging... I mean, his friends were Michael Snow, Carl Andre, Frank Stella, and that was not my... I did not know any except Michael Snow. It was completely different and very, very mental, sort of, intellectual in a way, crowd. So... I met him already much later and, of course, you know, we spent some time... I mean, Frampton's... when Frampton was, like, 12 years old he was still... he did very much some things like what I did. He used to go to the libraries, look where he grew up, and now I don't remember where he grew up, with a shopping cart and just take, like, half of the shelf and then a week later he comes back already with everything, he zoomed through the all the local libraries. He's one of the brightest people that I ever knew, I think, Frampton. He had...

The other, of course, was P Adams Sitney. He he spent... one one of the his teacher sort, of was, Ezra Pound. When Ezra Pound was in... during his American period in prison, Frampton visited him almost every day and sat there under his feet listening and also brought some books that Ezra Pound wanted; he was permitted to have. Very, very, very, very incredibly bright person. But his main work has not been or yet even shown even today. And there was a big controversy and that made Hollis a little bit unhappy that one of his major works was Hapax Legomena, a four-hour-long film where some parts were very abstract, some are real. But even P Adams Sitney when we came to voting in the film into Anthology's repertory and all my other colleagues on the committee chose to include only one part of the film called Nostalgia, and Hollis was happy, he needed money so we bought it, but he was so very unhappy about how can you detach one part and not to show the... But they did not understand and I have to say neither P Adams Sitney, nor Kubelka, nor Brakhage... No, Brakhage was already resigned, he was out, Ken Kelman, the other members of the selection committee did not see it as a... did not see the importance of that film and the unity and how those very different parts each of those four part, six part, were very, very different and they appreciated some of them separately, but not together. And that was, of course... that was upsetting to me also because I was defending it as a whole.

And then when he died he left his main work unfinished. In a sense, maybe finished, but on paper because very complex, it is a film that consists of 365 parts, one for every day. It was planned so that one for every day. It's like, you know, Pirandello wrote 365 short stories, one for every day. So... and there are instructions exactly what to show, there is... how to... or many parts must be transferred into by way of computer and it's exactly all instructions are there. Now we... Anthology has screened till now maybe like a version of some 10-hour-long just to see what... how it works. And I think it's an incredible project and there's some day... maybe, for one year, at Anthology Film Archives, we will screen one part of you know, one part of... this is the Magellan film I'm talking about, the title is Magellan.

I have also a dream; I have a dream of a program at Anthology. I'm working on it now, actually. I will be... it will take me a year or so. I will have a repertoire selected of 365 avant-garde films. Actually, there will be more, but one for every day that will go for 365 days, year after year after year. It will be sort of an avant-garde film calendar.

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: Hapax Legomena, Nostalgia, Magellan, Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow, Ezra Pound, P Adams Sitney, Ken Kelman

Duration: 6 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010