Underground Film Journal

Feature Article

October 14, 2018

Movie Journal: Rise of the “Underground”

Cover to the 2nd edition of Movie Journal by Jonas Mekas featuring the author with a movie camera

In the Summer 1961 edition of Film Quarterly, Stan Vanderbeek was the first person to refer to experimental filmmaking as the "underground." A filmmaker himself, Vanderbeek was frustrated that his work and the films of his peers -- such as Stan Brakhage, Hilary Harris, Robert Breer and Robert Frank -- was not being considered as serious art by the broader cinematic culture.

Eventually, the term "underground film" would become part of the regular movie vernacular, but was it adopted slowly or quickly after its first appearance in 1961?

Jonas Mekas's "Movie Journal" column in the Village Voice was the main organ promoting experimental and avant-garde cinema in the early 1960s. A survey of the column from that time period has shown that Mekas did not use the term "underground film" very frequently.

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Online Cinema

August 25, 2018

Flight Paths — Robert Todd

Flight Paths by Robert Todd.

The Underground Film Journal mourns the passing of prolific experimental filmmaker Robert Todd, who passed away on August 18, 2018.

Todd was Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. During his lifetime, he produced an extraordinary body of work in the form of short, experimental films that primarily captured his environment in minute and poetic detail. Many of these films are available to view on Vimeo.

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Featured Streaming

Meshes Of The Afternoon

Wide thumbnail image for Meshes Of The Afternoon

In this classic avant-garde film, a young woman returns home and encounters visions of herself resulting in tragedy. Filmmaker Maya Deren ushered in the entirety of artistic cinema in America with this hugely influential short film that is hypnotic, dreamlike and astounding in its visionary aesthetics.

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Timeline Spotight

1986: Heavy Metal Parking Lot Premiere

Calendar for October 1986 for d.c. space featuring the world premiere of Heavy Metal Parking Lot

On October 20, 1986, the legendary underground documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot made its world premiere at the music club d.c. space in Washington, D.C.

The club hosted punk rock shows, avant-garde jazz performances and poetry readings in D.C. from 1977 to 1991; and, at least in October 1986, held movie and video screenings on Sundays. A calendar from that month was recently posted on Facebook to confirm the Heavy Metal Parking Lot screening. Click the calendar above for a better view of it.

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