Underground Film Journal

Underground Film History


Flashback: 2nd Annual New York Underground Film Festival

Ed Halter has graciously donated to the Underground Film Archive the program books for almost every edition of the New York Underground Film Festival. While this donation does not include the still-elusive program for the first edition of the fest in 1994, it does begin with the 2nd edition held in 1995 at the Anthology […]

1961: New American Cinema At The Spoleto Festival

According to Jonas Mekas‘s diaries, on May 17, 1961 he was contacted by Jerome Hill about the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Hill had convinced the festival’s organizer, Gian Carlo Menotti, to include a section on the New American Cinema for that year’s edition to be held in June and July. Mekas declined to participate, as […]

Flashback: 3rd Annual New York Film Festival Downtown

The third annual New York Film Festival Downtown was once again organized and presented by filmmakers Tessa Hughes-Freeland and Ela Troyano in 1986. In the festival’s program notes, the pair continued to bemoan the lack of attention given to Lower East Side filmmakers in their own city: Three years later the situation remains virtually unchanged […]

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 […]