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Essential Cinema

by Lucas
“In 1968, thanks to the foresight of Jerome Hill, a filmmaker and a visionary philanthropist, there arose an occasion to create in New York a film museum dedicated exclusively to film as an art. Lengthy discussions took place to determine the purposes and functions of the new museum. It was decided that one of its main functions would be to serve as a continuous critical tool in the investigation of the essential works created in cinema. Therefore it was decided to create what became known as the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. A special Film Selection Committee was created to begin to compile such a repertory. The understanding was… Read more

“In 1968, thanks to the foresight of Jerome Hill, a filmmaker and a visionary philanthropist, there arose an occasion to create in New York a film museum dedicated exclusively to film as an art. Lengthy discussions took place to determine the purposes and functions of the new museum. It was decided that one of its main functions would be to serve as a continuous critical tool in the investigation of the essential works created in cinema. Therefore it was decided to create what became known as the Essential Cinema Repertory collection.

A special Film Selection Committee was created to begin to compile such a repertory. The understanding was that the Committee would constitute a permanent part of Anthology Film Archives and that it would continue into the future reviewing old and new cinema works, in all their different manifestations, and keep adding and expanding the Essential Cinema Repertory collection.

With the enthusiastic support of Jerome Hill, the Committee, consisting of P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, James Broughton, Ken Kelman and myself – and for a brief period Stan Brakhage – began its work. During the following few years it held numerous and lengthy selection sessions, compiling the first Essential Cinema Repertory collection consisting of about 330 titles.

But fate had other plans for us. In February 1973 Jerome Hill died. The Avon Foundation, Jerome’s foundation behind the Anthology project, which had built a special, Invisible Cinema theater, designed by Peter Kubelka, and had paid for the acquisition of all the prints voted into the Essential Cinema collection, and the running of Anthology, was taken over by people who did not share Jerome’s vision. All funding to the Anthology project was cut off. Anthology had to move from the 425 Lafayette Street location, first to 80 Wooster Street, then to 491
 Broadway, and then to its present location.The Essential
 Cinema Repertory project was frozen until such time as another visionary such as Jerome Hill will appear.

The Essential Cinema Repertory, from its very inception, was strongly and sometimes wildly attacked by those who were not familiar with the history of the project, for exclusion of many important films. They were not aware of the fact that the Essential Cinema Repertory was intended to serve as a permanent critical tool with new titles continuously added, including possibly the titles that the critics of Anthology had in mind.

As one looks back through the last thirty years of the history of cinema in the United States, one has to admit that even in its unfinished state, the Essential Cinema Repertory collection, as an uncompromising critical statement on the avant-garde film of the period, has dramatically changed perceptions of the history of the American avant-garde film. The avant-garde film has become an essential part of cinema.”

– Jonas Mekas


Not on MUBI:

Jordan Belson:
Re-entry (1964)
Momentum (1968)
Cosmos (1969)
World (1970)
Chakra (1972)

Stan Brakhage:
Reflections on Black (1955)
Flesh of Morning (1956)
Loving (1956)
Daybreak and White Eye (1957)
Sirius Remembered (1959)
Thigh Line Tyre Triangular (1961)
Pasht (1965)
Bluewhite, Blood’s Tone Vein (1965)
Fire of Waters (1965)
The Horseman, the Woman & the Moth (1968)
Songs, 1-14 (1964-65)
Songs, 15-22 (1965-66)
Songs, 24-27 (1967-68)
Songs, 28-30 (1968-69)
The Weir-Falcon Saga (1970)
Sexual Meditation No. 1: Motel (1970)
The Animals of Eden and After (1970)
Angels (1971)
Door (1971)
Western History (1971)
The Peacable Kingdom (1971)
Eyes (1971)
Deus Ex (1971)
Sexual Meditation: Room with View (1971)
The Shores of Phos: A Fable (1972)
Sincerity (1973)

Robert Breer:
Form Phases 2 (1953)
Motion Pictures, No. 1 (1956)
Pat’s Birthday (1962)
Breathing (1963)
Fist Fight (1964)
66 (1966)
Gulls & Boys (1972)

James Broughton:
Nuptiae (1969)

Alberto Cavalcanti:
Rine que les heures (1927)

Charlie Chaplin:
A Night at the Show (1915)
Payday (1922)

Joseph Cornell:
Ginr Rednow (1955)
The Children’s Party (1969)
A Legend for Fountains (1970)

Douglas Crockwell:
Glens Falls Sequence (1946)
The Long Bodies (1949)

Ernie Gehr:
Reverberation (1969)
Still (1971)

Dwinell Grant:
Contrathemis (1941)
Stop Motion Tests (1942)
Color Sequence (1943)

Marcel Hanoun:
L’Hiver (1958)
Le printemps (1970)

Jerome Hill:
Death in the Forenoon (1955)
Canaries (1968)

Larry Jordan:
The Old House, Passing (1966)
Out Lady of the Sphere (1968)

Dimitri Kirsanoff:
The Rapt (1934)

George & Mike Kuchar:
Tootsies in Autumn (1962)

Owen Land:
Thank You Jesus for the Eternal Present (1973)

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