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  • Amos and Marcia Vogel


Sunday, November 7 at 6:00

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Introduced by Karen Cooper and Jake Perlin

“The more I stir up audiences, the happier I am.” – Amos Vogel 

In 1947, Amos Vogel (1921–2012), joined by his wife Marcia, founded Cinema 16, a precursor to independent film exhibitors everywhere. His erudite, playful, politically-engaged, and artistically provocative choices introduced New Yorkers to movies that were infinitely more challenging and eclectic than anything being produced in Hollywood. His pioneering work set the stage for the creation of Film Forum in 1970.

In honor of his centenary, Film Forum presents a selection of avant-garde films and documentaries of social and scientific import, all of which premiered at Cinema 16. This program is a recreation of an “Homage to Cinema 16,” conceived of and programmed by Film Forum’s Director Karen Cooper and film historian Scott MacDonald, author of Cinema 16: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society. The program originally ran for two weeks in 1986.

The program (approx. 90 min) will include many 16mm prints, the format for which Cinema 16 was named. Tentatively (as of late September) our program includes:

In the Street (1952, Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, James Agee) Legendary NYC street photographer Helen Levitt created this iconic short film, joined by writer James Agee and painter Janice Loeb. 16mm print courtesy Museum of Modern Art. Approx. 17 min.

Fireworks (1947, Kenneth Anger) A classic homoerotic phantasmagoria of sailors and the male anatomy. Warning: graphic sexual imagery. 35mm print courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive. Approx. 14 min. 

Geography of the Body (1943, Willard Maas) The human body as abstract poetry. 16mm. Approx. 7 min.

The Wonder Ring (1955, Stan Brakhage) A seminal work by avant-garde pioneer Brakhage. 16mm. Approx. 4 min.

Living in a Reversed World (1958, Dr. Pacher) From Austria’s famed Institute for Experimental Psychology. “Macabre and somehow surrealist. The Kafkaesque subject stubbornly struggles through a morass of continuous failures.” – Amos Vogel. Digital. Approx. 11 min.

The Room (1959, Carmen D’Avino) Charming and colorful. 16mm print courtesy Academy Film Archive. Approx. 5 min.

Recreation (1956, Robert Breer) Breer was an early abstract animator and painter. His mural graced our cinema’s facade on Watts Street. We’ve repurposed it for a t-shirt and tote bag. Now see a film by this “iconoclastic cinematic genius” (Amos Vogel). 16mm. Approx 1 1/2 min.

A Divided World (1948, Arne Sucksdorff) The Swedish filmmaker’s poignant paean to nature and animal life. “The beauty and purity of the cinematography are a near constant.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum. 16mm. Approx. 8 min.

Blood of the Beasts (1949, Georges Franju) “One of the great masterpieces of the subversive cinema... Franju, committed artist, resistance fighter, moralist, wants us to consider all slaughter anywhere committed on our behalf by those we hire to do our dirty work, so that we can sit down at clean tablecloths and deny complicity.” – Amos Vogel. Warning: includes graphic violence/slaughtering of large animals. 35mm print courtesy French Cultural Services. Approx. 20 min.

A new edition of Amos Vogel’s 1974 book Film as a Subversive Art (Film Desk) will be sold at our concession.

Jake Perlin is a film programmer, and founder of the The Film Desk, a distributor of films including Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day and the films of Philippe Garrel. Film Desk Books recent publications include the first English language translations of Duras/Godard DialoguesThe World of Jia Zhangke by Jean-Michel Frodon, and Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art, newly revised and edited by Jim Colvill and Herb Shellenberger.

Part of a city-wide centenary celebration of Amos Vogel. Other programs taking place this fall:

  • New York Film Festival 59: Sept 24-Oct 10
  • MoMA: Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral? The Subversive Art of Amos Vogel: Oct 8-13
  • Metrograph: Oct 13-20
  • Roxy Cinema Tribeca: Oct 14-17
  • Light Industry: Oct 19
  • Anthology Film Archives: October 21-27
  • Museum of the Moving Image: dates TBA


“Cinema 16 was a moveable feast. It was an idea more than a place, a commitment to a bold new medium, to an eclectic notion of what was worth paying attention to— be it dramatic or documentary or experimental. Content might be political, scientific, historical, visually experimental, or sexually explicit or implicit. The Vogels were fearless!”
– Karen Cooper, Director of Film Forum

“In 1947, when Austrian immigrant Amos Vogel began the Cinema 16 film society in Manhattan, New York’s movie scene was dominated by The Hollywood mainstream, and the word indie was decades from being coined. Vogel’s eclectic programs— a carefully curated mix of surrealist narratives, political documentaries, medical training movies, etc. — may have been scorned by censors and ignored by the steadfastly incurious New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, but Vogel instinctively knew that he and his wife and collaborator, Marcia, were onto something big.”
– Darren D’Addario, Time Out New York

“If you’re looking for the origins of film culture in America, look no further than Amos Vogel.”
– Martin Scorsese 

Film Forum