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Screenings and venues in the 1960s


The explosion in film courses and demand for avant-garde films
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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In 1960, that's before, when the Cooperative was created by '62, we sort of knew that there are at least maybe like 20 outlets across the United States. But 20 or so, call it universities that were already have some few courses. So what... and then in 1970, ten years later, the American Film Institute issued a book listing all the universities and colleges that had film courses or departments, and they listed 1200 universities and colleges with about 22,000 film courses ten years later. Now, this explosion partially... was very much influenced by the publicity that we were getting without, we did not ask for it, and by film-makers traveling across the country and... going to universities and, and pushing, trying to persuade that the work should be shown there, and they...  then the students demanded that, you know, maybe also film courses, and they helped, I think, and the various film societies were created, screenings took place, so in... during one decade from the 20 went to... 1000, and that was also, one can trace that by the Film-makers' Cooperative archives list, mailing lists, by how many of... from how many places orders for the avant-garde, for the independents, underground came to the cooperative in '62, in '63 and... and you see the explosion, how it grew. Somebody could some day analyse and look at who... those lists and find a big change during that decade.

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: American Film Institute

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008