Underground Film Journal

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Howard Guttenplan, R.I.P.

By Mike Everleth ⋅ March 10, 2015

Howard Guttenplan standing in the doorway entrance to the Millennium Film Workshop

Howard Guttenplan, the longtime Executive Director of NYC’s Millennium Film Workshop, passed away on February 23. He was 80 years old.

Founded in 1966, the Millennium was named by and originally run by filmmaker Ken Jacobs, who was succeeded by short tenures by¬†George Tenneille and Gary Smith. Guttenplan was then named Executive Director in 1971 — a position he would keep for the next 40 years when he finally retired in 2011.

The Millennium was originally conceived as an educational, rental and screening space for New York filmmakers and it was Guttenplan who really expanded the foundation’s exhibition program through the “Personal Cinema” series that brought visionary media makers from all over the world to screen their work.

In addition to running the Millennium Film Workshop, Guttenplan was also a filmmaker himself who worked primarily on “diary” films, such as San Francisco Diary ’79 (Shadow Trail) (1980), European Diary ’79 (Criss-crossings) (1980), and N. Y. C. Diary ’74 (1974); all of which are available for rental from the Film-makers’ Cooperative. According to the Microscope Gallery, which hosted a retrospective of Guttenplan’s films, although he “completed” these films in the ’70s and ’80s, he continued to work on them up until just a few years ago.

(Photo of Howard Guttenplan courtesy of Clayton Patterson)