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Founding of Anthology Film Archives: building up the Archive

RELATED STORIES

Loosing funding for Anthology Film Archives
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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One week before we opened, and that was December 1st 1970, Martinson dies and in 72 Jerome Hill dies. So, we lost, within our first two years, the two biggest supporters and after Jerome died, the family of- that controlled the monies, Jerome's monies, they decided that they should cut off the funds slowly faze us out because this was, Anthology Film Archives project was just some kind of whim of Jerome Hill and it was not an essential kind of project that the foundation could support and they cut us off. So, we could not continue with the Essential Cinema, we could not, the idea of Essential Cinema Repertory Collection what that we would continue our meetings and as time and years went we would add new titles as we explore different areas. So, Essential Cinema Collection became an aborted kind of undertaking, very, very, I think, ambitious project that could have really become very, very, very important as time went on, ended right there in 1973. It achieved though one, I think it achieved something that, that universities and colleges across the country wanted to show two or three programs, we could direct them to our Essential Cinema Collection because one thing that we had covered quite well really is the avant-garde sort of film area. We did not cover the Hollywood, international cinemas, avant-gardes of other countries but we covered quite well the American avant-garde film as it was at that time. We did not exactly complete but I think we did at least 90% of the job. So that helped to very much to establish the avant-garde American, avant-garde film, avant-garde film in the academia. That sometimes is thrown, you know against us that but I think it's wrong that criticism has little, I think, value. I think it, it achieved something that we did not really intend. So that was, then we had since our funds were cut off and we could not stay at the Public Theater, Shakespeare Theatre, that is 425 Lafayette because it, we had to pay yearly rental which was pretty high, and I had already purchased 80 Wooster which was totally like very cheap and practically free. We moved in 1974 to 80 Wooster.

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.

Duration: 3 minutes, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010