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Turning footage into films: Walden and Lost, Lost, Lost


Fundraising to keep the Film-makers' Cooperative afloat
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Until like '60, as far as Film-makers' Cooperative and Film Culture magazine, whenever I really could not find money anywhere else to pay the bill, then I went to Jerome Hill and Jerome always helped. Film Culture would not have continued that long without Jerome Hill. Actually Jerome Hill saved not only Film Culture, he saved Cahiers du Cinema. In around 19... maybe, I don't know, I'll have to check, '67 or somewhere there, they were about to collapse financially and he gave them money to survive and with the little condition that he will give it to them for the rights to publish English editions, so Andrew Sarris was involved in it. English for like a year or two, there was an English edition of Cahiers du Cinema, but maybe that was a by-product of his helping, giving money to Cahiers du Cinema to survive and continue.

Later, as far as, you know, Film-makers' Cooperative, I also for like a couple of years managed, he helped. But the beginning, like '64 or somewhere else, I never knew where the money will come from. I attacked different people, I went already to the people I had met, you know, at the Factory, some of the society people to, you know, to give 300, 200, 100, whatever and it was saved. Fundraising was... began there as a daily non-stop activity and still continues now at Anthology. I do... I still have to do the same. But it's getting easier since I know more people and they sort of... they know that this is what we're doing, is not just a joke but it's, you know, it's useful to the people and so it's more understanding and support. But there were some very difficult periods when I could not even help, you know. Jack sent a message from Rome that he's here, stuck in Rome and needs $300 so I remember I managed to get like $60. I don't know how he came back.

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: Film-makers' Cooperative, Film Culture, Cahiers du Cinema, Jerome Hill, Andrew Sarris

Duration: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010