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New developments in the arts


Writing for The Village Voice
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I wrote during, in The Voice, during that period a lot about really... improvisation and freeing ourselves from... I guess from professionalism. And they are, that loosening up of like, say what I wrote, I remember and I spent in several columns about the changing, you know, technology and the... and that now, that there is no such thing as normal lighting or normal focus or normal this or normal that, that you can overexpose or underexpose or... and its all open, it depends what you need. Now that was of course not what was being taught in Hollywood. The only time when Nouvelle Vague did that was, it was done by Resnais, Resnais in Marienbad when he suddenly overexposed a scene and that was, you know, avant-garde for, for that regular movie critics. Look, look that's new, that's and, you know,  that's usually, I wrote in The Village Voice on the, about films that I liked and I thought that those films should be brought to attention and the only, maybe there were two or three cases where when I wrote at wrote negatives... negative reviews when I, I attacked even films that I almost liked, like Marienbad, but I had to attack it because all the reviewers, all the press weeklies, dailies, after reviewing, telling what it is, always added like a sentence. I said this is real what the real avant-garde is, this, you know, not the this New York underground and underground there's and avant-gardists who are making those films that nobody understands and nobody knows what's it all about, they are all amateurs and here is an example, so I, of course, I had to attack it.

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: The Village Voice, Hollywood, Marienbad, Alain Resnais

Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008