Almost 50 years in the making — filming began in 1956 — Ken Jacobs’s 440-minute avant-garde epic was named the best film of 2004 by J. Hoberman of The Village Voice. A history of 20th-century politics and culture communicated through a crazy quilt of found film, including a dancelike performance by Jack Smith (Flaming Creatures) as The Spirit of Life but Not of Living and sustained rants by the downtown character Jerry Sims as Suffering, it’s the ultimate underground movie, subversive and frequently hilarious. —The New York Times
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Ken Jacobs, was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1933. He studied painting with one of the prime creators of Abstract Expressionism, Hans Hofmann, in the mid-fifties. It was then that he also began filmmaking (Star Spangled To Death). His personal star rose, to just about knee high, with the sixties advent of Underground Film. In 1967, with the involvement of his wife Florence and many others aspiring to a democratic rather than demagogic cinema, he created The Millennium Film Workshop in New York City. A nonprofit filmmaker’s co-operative open to all, it made available film equipment, workspace, screenings and classes at little or no cost. Later he found himself teaching large classes of painfully docile students at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.
In 1969, after a week’s guest seminar at Harpur College (now, Binghamton University), students petitioned the Administration to hire Ken Jacobs. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, the Administration… read more