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Running Anthology Film Archives


The importance of film preservation for future generations
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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When it comes to the film preservation we are the only museum, film museum, in the world that has made... and we belong to the... I know that, because we belong to FIA that is International Federation of Film Museums, that we have made... we put priority when it comes to preservation to avant-garde film. When other museums don't do that's... that's usually for them it's a footnote, not that important at all. It's so much that when the Museum of Modern Art during last few years built the largest film vault for films to really store them under very proper conditions they did not make any provision for 16 mm films, only for 35. While the whole avant-garde is on 16 with the exceptions of the 35 and eight, so you can see where their heads are, where our... or their hearts are and where our hearts are. So when it comes to... and monies are still very limited for preservation. The modern mode as time goes now during the last five, six years there is much more consciousness in that area. But they need to preserve not only the commercial film but also the independents and the avant-garde but we don't get more then like maybe 30,000 per year so we have to make decisions what... what... how we should use that 30,000. So for screening we are very open, for preservation we are very strict, very strict. We think very carefully, you know, what is really important according to our judgment and that's where the monies should go even if the rest disappears, you see. So, there we are very selective. We have to be because, you know, monies are limited. We have preserved a lot of Brakhage during the last five years and Joseph Cornell and a lot of work that others are not preserving at all.

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: Stan Brakhage, Joseph Cornell, Kenneth Anger, Harry Smith

Duration: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010