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Amos Vogel, 1921-2012

Amos Vogel died this past week, signalling perhaps the end of an era in which film existed as something other than a pure financial product.  Amos, whom I met a few times and recall visiting in his Village apartment in the middle of NYU, was an early and ardent champion of film as an art, a provocation, something to stir the soul and mind, and not merely a transitory means to slip X bucks from your wallet.   Long ago, he set up Cinema 16, a distribution and exhibition system for the propagation of art/underground/avant garde.  Later he started the New York Film Festival, which he directed until 1968.   A political radical, he had no qualms in describing himself as an anarchist, and in openly supporting very “left” views.

In his book, “FILM AS A SUBVERSIVE ART” he cited among many others, my own film,  “Canyon.”   In doing so he made clear that his idea of  “subversive” included the sublime.

His death comes at a time when the commercialization of everything in the name of  “the Market Economy” has bludgeoned the kind of cinema he supported into a near-death coma.   I imagine he looked at the “independent” cinema which in its various guises and labels of the last few decades, as a sad denouement for the kinds of work he dreamed of, a sign that indeed the insidious forces at work in “the Market Economy” reduced most young filmmakers to imagining that a modest shift in television sit-com formulas constitutes “creativity.”


The Hunger Games

As if to demonstrate the mental corruption of  Hollywood’s landscape, the makers of the BO smash The Hunger Games, which as of this week has grossed 366 million dollars domestically, released for their promotional picture, the above item.   A modestly careful look at this image shows that while archery apparently plays a major role in the film, no one could be bothered to figure out how to actually shoot an arrow:  aside from holding the arrow rather far from the near-center point on the string which is technically “correct”  one must also wonder by what gravitational magic the arrow manages to hold itself on the wrong side of the actress’ hand.  Perhaps Photoshop?  Or she has an extra finger that grows from the backside of her hand?   Truth being the last pursuit of those who control Hollywood, I imagine we will never get an answer.


From Nathaniel Dorsky’s “Compline

While lamenting the near-collapse of the kinds of cinema which Amos Vogel supported, I do note that a recent screening of works by my friend Nathaniel Dorsky at the Redcat Cinema in Los Angeles, elicited this item in the New York Times.   [For other thoughts on and from Nathaniel, see his “letters” in my other blog.]


Tornado alley

I am presently in Stanberry Missouri, population 1,240 or so, here to help my friend Blake Eckard shoot a new film – I’m doing camera for him (with my equipment) and about 10 days ago he also asked me to act in it, so I will be playing Burl Enright, drunkard red-neck dad, who, if things stick to plan, will get killed by his no-good sons by the end of the film.    I hope I can do a reasonable job of it – in front of and behind the camera.


The Market Economy, aka, Titanic


  1. Thanks for mentioning, didn’t catch his passing.. “Film as a Subversive Art” I think was the title, unless he had another book too..

    • Thanks Eli for correction on title. I stuck it in. Where are you now? I’m in Stanberry Mo

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