Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Film-Makers' Cooperative faces eviction


"We don't want rosy films -- we want them the color of blood" it says, on the home page of The Film-Makers' Cooperative, an institution that is now in danger of being evicted from the small place it has in New York. The Coop, as it's known to most of us, is, as Fred Camper puts it, "one of the world's few pillars of genuine film art." Evicting the Coop isn't much different than evicting the Louvre Museum, or the Museum of Modern Art.

You can read Fred's words on the issue here. And here is the New York Times article.

Just reading the history of the Coop, written by Jonas Mekas, is bound to inspire anyone who deeply cares about moving images:
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. 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.



I worked at the Coop for two years and all that time I considered myself lucky to be a part of history. Inspecting, cleaning, repairing all those masterpieces by Robert Breer, Bruce Baillie, Stan Brakhage, Larry Jordan, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton, Christopher Maclaine, Sidney Peterson, Michael Snow, Peter Kubelka, Peter Gidal, Joyce Wieland, Harry Smith (What a list, oh God!) and many many others, was a privilege. Again using Fred Camper's words, "the kinds of films the Coop distributes tend to base their art in the particular properties of celluloid, rather than simply as a conveyor of pictures, and thus must be seen on film."



I don't want to imagine a world without the Coop, and I wish good luck to everybody working to save it! And, to anyone who has a chance to work there, I strongly recommend it. Trust me, it will change your life!

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