HAPPY BIRTHDAY: 60 YEARS OF FILMMAKER’S COOPERATIVE N.Y.C
Following the retrospective programs which throughout the years featured Želimir Žilnik, Vedran Šamanović, Luksuz Produkcija, and Roy Andersson, Diversions brings the special birthday program of Filmmaker's Cooperative from New York City, the U.S.A for its eighth edition.
Initiated when the freedom of expression was under oppression, when censorship was an everyday routine and when the pro-war policy was rising in the society, the Filmmaker's Cooperative grew as a rebellious element providing safe and open space for critical thinking of an individual and where the freedom of expression was and still is the main cornerstone.
The Cooperative was founded in 1961 as a New American Cinema Group by 22 New York artists, including Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, Ken, and Flo Jacobs, Andy Warhol, and Jack Smith. One of the main activities was the distribution of avant-garde cinema.
In 1981, under the leadership of Margery Keller, the NACG expanded its mission to include educational, artistic, and literary activities (as film screenings, workshops, seminars, etc.). In addition to the analog film, they also started distributing video and digital media.
Founding goals of Filmmaker's Cooperative:
· To encourage the development of a new cinema which reflects the highest ethical and aesthetic standards.
· To combat all forms of film censorship and licensing and all forms of interference in the making of motion pictures.
· To initiate and promote the development of methods of film financing, distribution and exhibiting.
A BRIEF HISTORY – BY JONAS MEKAS
The year was 1960. New York was buzzing with dreams of a new cinema — a cinema that would reflect the sensibilities of 1960. Inspired by the New York School of Cinema — a term used at the Venice Film Festival to introduce the works of Morris Engel, Sidney Meyers, and Lionel Rogosin — the French Nouvelle Vague burst upon the screens of the world. In the United States, the avant-garde cinema of Kenneth Anger, Gregory Markopoulos, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, and Ron Rice was making its own waves. So was John Casavettes’ Shadows; Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s Pull My Daisy; Shirley Clarke’s The Connection; Guns of the Trees, the film I made with Adolfas Mekas; and Bert Stern’s Jazz on a Summer Day and Cry of Jazz.
Something had to be done... On September 28th, 1960, some 23 independent filmmakers, including myself, met in New York and decided to create a self-help organization which became known as the New American Cinema Group. The Group held monthly informal meetings and discussed dreams and problems of independently working filmmakers. Several small committees were created in order to explore the financing, promotion, and distribution of our films. My own assignment, besides that of serving as the President of the Board — was to investigate new methods of distribution.
After looking into the existing film distribution organizations, and seeing how few of them were interested in our work, I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to create our own cooperative film distribution center, run by ourselves. When Cinema 16, at that time the most advanced avant-garde/independent film distribution organization, rejected Stan Brakhage’s film Anticipation of the Night — an eye-opener and the beginning of a totally new, subjective cinema — this was the signal that something had to be done.
I slept under my editing table. On January 7th, 1962, I invited some 20 avant-garde/independent filmmakers to my Manhattan loft to discuss the creation of our own distribution center. Stan Vanderbeek, Ron Rice, Rudy Burckhardt, Jack Smith, Lloyd Williams, Robert Breer, David Brooks, Ken Jacobs, Gregory Markopoulos, Ray Wisniweski, Doc Humes, and Robert Downey, to mention a few, were among those present.
The Film-Makers’ Cooperative came into being. Announcements were sent to across the United States and abroad. My loft became the Co-op’s temporary home (if one can call five years time temporary!) I slept under my editing table. The rest of the place was taken over by filmmakers, who were almost always there, screening their films to each other and friends. It was a very exciting period, everybody was there, from Salvador Dali to Allen Ginsberg, to Andy Warhol to Jack Smith to Barbara Rubin — everybody!
„As part of its 60th Anniversary Celebration, The New American Cinema Group, Inc/The Film-Makers’ Cooperative presents “Unseen Classics,” a dazzling selection of films representing the diversity of the Cooperative and the breadth of its artists’ personal vision.“
7. 7. / 16:30
KINO ZELINA + VIDEO ON DEMAND
Jonas Mekas, 1966, 4.5 min
Marie Menken, 1957, 5 min
Edward Owens, 1967, 6 min
Storm DeHirsch, 1965, 9 min
Shirley Clarke, 1958, 7.5 min
7. 7. / 16:30
KINO ZELINA + LIVE STREAM
Mrs. Mary Magdaline Serra, Executive Director of Filmmakers' Coop.
dr. Nikica Gilić, filmologist
Zorko Sirotić, filmmaker