Underground Film Journal

Underground Film History

Articles:

Surf Theatre: ’60s Underground Film Screenings

The Surf Theatre in San Francisco was a beloved independent movie theater located at 4520 Irving Street, just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean. In the 1960s, the Surf jumped on the underground film bandwagon, occasionally screening the typical “midnight movies” shorts programs of the time; as well as sprinkling in feature-length underground cinema […]

Flashback: 2nd Annual New York Film Festival Downtown

Filmmakers Tessa-Hughes Freeland and Ela Troyano founded the New York Film Festival Downtown in 1984. In the program for the second annual edition in 1985, they laid out the need for such an event: “Most films made in this society fall into two categories: those financed and marketed commercially, and their counterparts in the arts […]

The Jonas Mekas Timeline: 1922 – 1974

Jonas Mekas (1922 – 2019) accomplished much in his long life. And that’s not just in the realm of underground film! Mekas practically lived a lifetime under Nazi rule before reluctantly coming to the United States in 1949. At the Underground Film Journal, we love our timelines, so we’ve decided to maintain this list of […]

1958 Movie Journal: Jonas Mekas’ First Columns

The November 12, 1958 edition of The Village Voice featured the first installment of the column “Movie Journal” by Jonas Mekas. “Movie Journal” would become what the Underground Film Journal would argue was the most significant organizing tool of avant-garde cinema created by Jonas, even more so than the Film-makers’ Cooperative and the Anthology Film […]

Underground Cinema 12: January-May 1971

Underground Cinema 12 was a midnight movie screening series of underground films that ran in theaters owned by Louis Sher, who founded “the nation’s largest circuit of art houses” in 1954. While Sher was the head of the Art Theatre Guild, Underground Cinema 12 was run by his nephew Mike Getz. The series began at […]

Movie Journal: Rise of the “Underground”

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.

The Origin Of “Underground Film”

One of filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek’s most famous articles is “The Cinema Delimina” published in the Summer 1961 edition of Film Quarterly (vol. XIV no. 4), in which he is the first person to use the term “underground” to refer to what was then mostly referred to as “experimental cinema.”

The (Almost) Trial of Shirley Clarke

In 1961, Shirley Clarke finished directing her first feature film and debuted The Connection at the Cannes Film Festival to much acclaim. The New York State Board of Education’s motion picture division banned the film from screening in the state.