An Introduction To The American Underground Film (1967)

“This is the fourth entry in my continuing series on classic texts on underground filmmaking. Previous entries are: Midnight Movies by J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum; Movie Journal: The Rise Of The New American Cinema 1959-1971 by Jonas Mekas; and Underground Film: A Critical History by Parker Tyler. This book came to me in an interesting way. In a Underground Film Journal review of a more modern book, Phil Hall‘s The Encyclopedia of Underground Movies, a George Renan left a comment saying that his dad, Sheldon Renan, had written this Introduction. Then, thanks to the always helpful Los Angeles Public Library system, I was able to get my hands on the copy in their collection. George: Thanks for leaving the comment. This is really a fantastic book and an invaluable resource. Like Mekas’s Movie Journal, Renan’s Introduction is long out of print, which is a crying shame. For anyone interested in the ’60s underground film movement, this is a must read. This is a fairly exhaustive book and while calling itself an ‘introduction,’ it reads more like an encyclopedia of the movement at the time. It’s broken down into basic sections beginning with setting a definition of sorts of what ‘underground film’ actually means. Renan acknowledges that ‘underground’ encompases a wide variety of film styles, but the closest he comes to a concrete definition is. … It’s a very servicable definition, especially the notion of underground film as personal statement. … After the Depression, and coinciding with the easy availability of sixteen-milimeter film equipment, the avant garde explodes with the pioneers still revered today: Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Gregory Markopoulos; as well as other lesser-known filmmakers such as Curtis Harrington, Sidney Peterson and Joseph Vogel — all of whom were located on the West Coast. But, experimental film eventually comes East and the third ‘age’ of the American avant garde begins with the work of Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas, Robert Breer, Mike and George Kuchar, Stan Brakhage, Ron Rice and a ton more. …”
Underground Film Journal
W – An Introduction to the American Underground Film

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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