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Establishing Film Culture and The Village Voice


The different kinds of cinema
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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My contacts from the very beginning of arriving to New York has been covering all of those different aspects, not only the avant-garde, which you could see at, what's known as experimental at Cinema 16, but I went to the, at the same time, to Club Cinema, on 6th Avenue and 10th Street, which was run a by sort of left-wing people and showing and even published a little, well, irregular publication called Film Sense, by Howard Lawson and, you could call them communist, but they were a sort of left, extreme left people, running extreme, film... for every Saturday night, for people, films of social sort of significance, if they were narrative films then it would be like Kameradschaft or something like that; I went there. And the different group, William Everson who came out from London to New York and very early started running what he called Theodore Huff Society, old films, very old that you could not see anywhere else, silent of various formats, formats that made 16-35 that did not exist any more, like 19 and-a-half, 16, but it was also 19 and-a-half or, I think, 19 and-a-half, and he had projectors dug out somewhere and he was running those films and they were some 20 people, very strange people very often, watching those films because you could not see them anywhere else but I was there. So, I was, you know, it was the same when this is the daughter of Rumpole, Shiva, is her name so I was interested in all of the different branches of that tree that is called cinema.

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: Cinema 16, Club Cinema, Film Sense, Kameradschaft, Howard Lawson, William Everson

Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008