Underground Film Journal

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Film Culture’s Independent Film Awards, 1959-69

By Mike Everleth ⋅ October 29, 2007

Cover to Film Culture issue 19

For 10 years, the seminal film commentary magazine Film Culture handed out an award each year to a deserving filmmaker. Usually, as you’ll see below, these are for a specific film released that year, but the awards were given in the makers’ name, not their films, so they’re also in part for the makers’ bodies of work. For the most part, that is. The first award was given to a first time director, who basically ushered in the world of underground film in NYC in the ’60s.

I’m cribbing this list directly from P. Adams Sitney’s essential Film Culture Reader compendium. The list appears in the back of the book and I’m only listing the filmmakers’ names and whether or not they’re being recognized for a specific film. The Reader includes mini-essays that go along with the list, so if you want to learn more I urge you to go read the book if you haven’t. Hell, I urge you to get the book for a while host of reasons. I’m hoping to cover the entire book in the near future for my series on classic texts on underground films, but I think this is a significant list to stand on its own in its own post, especially since I can’t find it anywhere else online in full. I’ve also included Amazon links to films available on DVD and you’ll see that a shocking many of them aren’t available. Also, I believe, Cassavetes won for the notorious “first” version of Shadows and not the one popularly available now. And, the winners are …

First Independent Film Award
John Cassavetes — For Shadows

Second Independent Film Award
Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie — For Pull My Daisy

Third Independent Film Award
Ricky Leacock, Don Pennebaker, Robert Drew and Al Maysles — For Primary

Fourth Independent Film Award
Stan Brakhage — For The Dead and Prelude

Fifth Independent Film Award
Jack Smith — For Flaming Creatures

Sixth Independent Film Award
Andy Warhol — For Sleep, Haircut, Eat, Kiss and Empire

Seventh Independent Film Award
Harry Smith — For his entire body of work

Eighth Independent Film Award
Gregory Markopoulos — For his entire body of work

Ninth Independent Film Award
Michael Snow — For Wavelength

Tenth Independent Film Award
Kenneth Anger — For Invocation of My Demon Brother