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Underground Film Timeline: 1970 — 1979

Below is a list of significant events and films in underground film history between the years 1970 and 1979. Reference key of sources appears at the bottom of the page.

1970

MAJOR EVENTS

October 12-19: The first New York Underground Film Festival is held at Max’s Kansas City and shows the work of Anton Perich, Jack Smith, Tony and Beverly Conrad, Andy Warhol, Fred Mogubgub and others.

(Article)

Expanded Cinema, a book that collects the columns of the same name written by Gene Youngblood and published in the Los Angeles Free Press, is published.

(D.E.J.)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

ENGLAND

Jeff Keen

Meatdaze

(D.C.)

Malcolm Le Grice

Spot the Microdot, Or How to Screw the CIA Part 1

(D.C.)

GERMANY

William and Birgit Hein

Work in Progress Teil A (1969-70) (Six parts: Takes, Catania, untitled, untitled, The Jewellery Robbery, untitled)

(D.C.)

U.S.

Robert Beavers

Still Light

(P.A.S.)

Jordan Belson

World

(P.A.S.)

Film still from Serene Velocity by Ernie Gehr featuring a shadowy hallway
Serene Velocity

Stan Brakhage

The Animals of Eden and After

(P.A.S.)

eyes

(P.A.S.)

Scenes From Under Childhood (1967-70)

(P.A.S.)

Robert Breer

70

(P.A.S.)

James Broughton

The Golden Positions

(P.A.S.) (DVD)

Morgan Fisher

Production Stills

(D.E.J.)

Hollis Frampton

Zorns Lemma

(P.A.S.)

States (1967/1970)

(P.A.S.)

Ernie Gehr

History

(P.A.S.)

Serene Velocity

(P.A.S.)

James Herbert

Porch Glider

(D.C.)

Robert Nelson

Bleu Shut

(P.A.S.)

Andrew Noren

Kodak Ghost Poems

(D.C.)

Pat O’Neill

Runs Good (1969-70)

(D.C.)

David Rimmer

Surfacing on the Thames

(D.C.)

Paul Morrissey

Trash

(D.C.)

Paul Sharits

S:TREAM:S:S:ECTION:S:ECTION:S:S:ECTIONED

(P.A.S.)

John Waters

Multiple Maniacs

(J.S.)

1971

MAJOR EVENTS

Gregory Markopoulos publishes his collective writings, Chaos Phaos, but doesn’t include anything written before 1962.

(P.A.S.)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Bruce Baillie

Quick Billy

(P.A.S.) (D.C. lists as “1968–“)

Robert Beavers

From the Notebook of…

(P.A.S.)

Film still from Quick Billy featuring Bruce Baillie as a cowboy
Quick Billy

Jordan Belson

Meditation

(P.A.S.)

Stan Brakhage

Deus ex

(P.A.S.)

The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes

(P.A.S.) (DVD)

Ernie Gehr

Still

(P.A.S.)

Peter Hutton

July ’71 in San Francisco, Living at Beach Street, Working at Canyon Cinema, Swimming in the Valley of the Moon

(P.A.S.)

Jerome Hill

Film Portrait

(P.A.S.)

Jonas Mekas

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

(P.A.S.)

Michael Snow

The Central Region

(P.A.S.)

1972

MAJOR EVENTS

Peter Kubelka gives a seminar of his films at New York University, which is “the first public and extensive expression of his theoretical position.”

(P.A.S.)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Robert Beavers

The Painting

(P.A.S.)

Work Done

(P.A.S.)

Jordan Belson

Chakra

(P.A.S.)

Film still from Pink Flamingos featuring Divine eating dog poop
Pink Flamingos

Stan Brakhage

The Riddle of Lumen

(P.A.S.)

James Broughton

Dreamwood

(P.A.S. also lists as 1971) (DVD)

Hollis Frampton

Hapax Legomena (1971-72)

(Includes (nostalgia), Poetic Justice, Special Effects, Remote Control, Traveling Matte, Ordinary Matter and 1 other) (P.A.S.)

George Landow

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

(P.A.S.)

Yvonne Rainer

Lives of Performers

(P.A.S.)

Warren Sonbert

Carriage Trade (1968-72)

(P.A.S.)

1973

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Stan Brakhage

Sincerity (reel one)

(P.A.S.)

1974

MAJOR EVENTS

October 4: Peter Kubelka screens his films and participates in a discussion about his work at the San Francisco Cinematheque. A transcript of that discussion is eventually published in Canyon Cinema’s Canyon Cinemanews magazine.

(S.M.)

Kodak begins producing syncsound Super-8 film.

(J.S.)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

James Benning

8 1/2 x 11

(P.A.S.)

Stan Brakhage

The Text of Light

(P.A.S.)

James Broughton

Testament

(P.A.S.) (DVD)

Morgan Fisher

Cue Rolls

(D.E.J.)

Ernie Gehr

Shift (1971-74)

(P.A.S.)

Eureka

(P.A.S.)

Pat O’Neill

Saugus Series

(P.A.S.)

Yvonne Rainer

Film About a Woman Who…

(P.A.S.)

Michael Snow

Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen

(P.A.S.) (S.M. just calls it Rameau’s Nephew and says that Steve Anker helped work on the film.)

John Waters

Female Trouble

(J.S.) (Streaming)

1975

MAJOR EVENTS

In the autumn, Will Hindle is seriously injured in a car accident in Alabama. By July 1976 he is almost fully recovered.

(S.M.)

1976

MAJOR EVENTS

Idiolects magazine publishes its first two issues.

(Idiolects #1) (Idiolects #2)

May 25: The Whitney Museum screens Warren Sonbert’s Rude Awakening.

(Idiolects #1)

June 7: MOMA Cineprobe screens new work by George Landow.

(Idiolects #1)

June 12: James Benning and Bette Gordon screen films at the Millennium Film Workshop.

(Idiolects #1)

June 19: The Millennium Film Workshop screens a retrospective of Stan Brakhage films.

(Idiolects #1)

October 30: The Collective for Living Cinema screens a retrospective of films by Mike Kuchar.

(Idiolects #1)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Robert Beavers

Ruskin

(P.A.S.)

James Benning

11 x 14

(P.A.S.)

Morgan Fisher

Projection Instructions

(D.E.J.)

George Kuchar

A Reason to Live

(J.S.)

George Landow

New Improved Institutional Quality: In the Environment of Liquids and Nasals a Parasitic Vowel Sometimes Develops

(P.A.S.) (DVD)

Wide Angle Saxon

(P.A.S.)

Curt McDowell

Thundercrack!

(starring George Kuchar) (J.S.) (S.M. lists film as 1975 and without exclamation point.)

Yvonne Rainer

Kristina Talking Pictures

(P.A.S.; S.M.)

1977

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Dominic Angerame

Neptunian Space Angel

(S.M.)

John Baldessari

Script (1973-77)

James Benning

One Way Boogie Woogie

(P.A.S.)

Stan Brakhage

The Governor

(P.A.S.)

James Broughton

Song of the Godbody

(P.A.S.)

Manuel DeLanda

The Itch Scratch Cycle

(J.S.)

Ernie Gehr

“untitled”

(P.A.S.)

John Waters

Desperate Living

(J.S.) (Streaming)

1978

MAJOR EVENTS

May 18: George Landow introduces his films at a retrospective of his work at the San Francisco Cinematheque.

(S.M.)

July 23: James Broughton “re-marries” Joel Singer. (Quotes used in original announcement in Canyon Cinema’s Cinemanews magazine.)

(S.M.)

Eric Mitchell opens fifty-seat New Cinema storefront microcinema on St. Marks Place in NYC.

(J.S.)

Boris Deutsch passes away. (b. 1892)

(D.E.J.)

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Beth and Scott B

G-Man

(J.S.)

Black Box

(J.S.)

Letters to Dad

(J.S.)

James Benning

Grand Opera

(P.A.S.)

Film still from Black Box by Beth B and Scott B featuring a woman being interrogated in a dark room
Black Box

Manuel DeLanda

Incontinence: A Diarrhetic Flow of Mismatches

(J.S.)

Robert Huot

Diary 1974-75

(P.A.S.)

George Kuchar

Forever and Always

(J.S.)

Jonas Mekas

Notes for Jerome

(P.A.S.)

1979

MAJOR EVENTS

O.P. Screen screens Nick Zedd‘s They Eat Scum. Amy Taubin, film critic for the Soho Weekly News, sees the film and writes in the paper: “The aesthetic operative here is transgression, both in terms of the narrative, and in formal filmmaking terms.”

(J.S.)

Nick Zedd dreams up the concept of Cinema of Transgression, but doesn’t use it publicly until 1985.

(J.S.)

Robert Florey passes away.

(D.E.J.)

Gregory Markopoulos has P. Adams Sitney delete the chapter devoted to his films from the 2nd edition of Visionary Film.

(D.E.J.)

Film Culture publishes triple issue 67-68-69, which devotes several articles by and about Bruce Baillie.

SIGNIFICANT FILMS

U.S.

Beth and Scott B

The Offenders

(J.S.)

Manuel DeLanda

Ism Ism

(J.S.) (WATCH)

Film still from They Eat Scum by Nick Zedd featuring a man sitting in a high chair like a baby
They Eat Scum

Howard Guttenplan

European Diary ’79

(P.A.S.)

Michael McClard

Alien Portrait

(J.S.)

Nick Zedd

They Eat Scum

(J.S.)

REFERENCE KEY:

D.C: David Curtis. Experimental Cinema. New York: Dell Pub., 1978.
D.E.J.: David E. James. The Most Typical Avant-garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California, 2005.
J.S.: Jack Sargeant. Deathtripping: the Extreme Underground. Brooklyn: Soft Skull, 2008. (Originally published: London: Creation, 1995.)
P.A.S.: P. Adams Sitney. Visionary Film: the American Avant-garde, 1943-2000. New York: Oxford UP, 2002.
S.M.: Scott MacDonald. Canyon Cinema: the Life and times of an Independent Film Distributor. Berkeley: University of California, 2008.