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The first issue of Film Culture magazine


Edouard de Laurot
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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De Laurot is still, even today, he's a very mysterious person with mysterious achievements and credits and past. His name really was, later we discovered, Lodanski, he's a Polish and he kept brag... telling all kinds of fantastic stories like, like taking a mess... when Warsaw was surrounded by Germans, the Warsaw ghetto, and somebody had to take a message across the river Wisla to the Soviets. He was the one who, he said, he took it. He swam, he was an incredible swimmer. He could go under the water for like three minutes, practically. And we thought, you know, come on, come on, and then in like '61, a lawyer by the name Karpatkin, whose wife is very high in Washington, Aurora Karpatkin, went to Warsaw as a tourist and they were talking, they related this, they also had heard from me about this story and it was confirmed. They said, yes, that's the guy, he did it. So, what I'm trying to say, we never knew he was telling so many different things that you never knew what was true, what was not and there were some incredible things were true.

Now, later he married Zoe Lund, who did a script for Ferrara movies, and there's a whole period there and, but it is coming out that it most of those scripts are really Edouard de Laurot scripts in spirit and fact. I, you know, I have scribbled some notes to prove it. He also left one huge novel which I still have not read that Zoe, before she died, gave to me, which looks pretty good also. He had a very big ego and some kind of thing that he always wanted to dominate and you have to do it only his way, the way, the right way is my way! Why do you do that, and when that, when I was making my first film, Guns of the Trees, and when he was around and kept, you know, saying things like that at some, that's the point where we split. I could not take him any more because, you know, do your thing or you become like you don't know where you are. And I blame him really, for some of the failures of the film when he had some input, it didn't come out the way I wanted. So, we remained friends and even much later he used to visit me at Anthology and he was very heavily on drugs, always, all the time. He was banned from many countries for many reasons I don't even know. A very, very bright, he translated some of Sartre's The God, the Devil and the God Almighty [sic] or whatever, that huge, huge play and that, we visited once Henry Miller, and he was very really grateful that it was done, that it was translated. So, he was, he spoke many languages, I don't even know how many. Very talented but very, so destructive, self-destructive and a destructive person.

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: Edouard de Laurot, Aurora Karpatkin, Zoe Lund, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henry Miller

Duration: 4 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008