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Introducing: Your Underground Film Bookshelf

Montage of book covers about avant-garde, experimental and underground film

This is the formal announcement for a new resource project on the Underground Film Journal: The underground film bibliography. This is a list of all the books ever written on the history of underground film, as a movement or about individual filmmakers. The list is actually a work in progress, but it contains enough books on it at this point that I thought it was about time to start promoting it.

There aren’t that many books written on underground film. However, I am surprised at how many books I found to include on the list so far — and that I have a few more I know I need to add. And I’m sure there are a bunch more I still don’t know about.

As of this writing, there are 35 books on the list, which is about a dozen more than I thought the list would contain. I haven’t personally read all of them, either. So, I don’t know if any of them aren’t so great. I hope at some point to have read all of them, though. Every one sounds at least interesting enough to check out.

For several of the ones I have read, I have written reviews of them in the Underground Film Journal’s book review section. But, there are also ones I have read that I haven’t written about due to me just not getting around to it even though I probably should have, such as Scott MacDonald’s mind-blowingly awesome Canyon Cinema history.

Also, sadly, many of these books are long out of print. Some of them can be found for somewhat cheaply from re-sellers on Amazon or eBay, while others fetch serious prices, like Stan Brakhage‘s seminal Metaphors on Vision, which can cost a couple hundred bucks.

The books are all linked to their respective Amazon pages, where if you click through and buy a copy I’ll make a couple pennies. But, you should look around the web and maybe find cheaper copies. Or, run on down to your local used bookstore and dig around. Hey, that’s where I found Jonas MekasMovie Journal. (Thanks, Larry Edmunds in Hollywood!) Or, of course, try getting a couple out of your local library.

Seriously, if you haven’t read many books on the list, try ’em out. You’ll be pleasantly rewarded once you start digging into underground film’s interesting history, much of which you can’t find anywhere on the Internet.


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