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Underground Film Yearbook: 1973

By Mike Everleth ⋅ November 26, 2008

This is the third entry in my series of the underground film scene of the ’70s. You can follow the series here.

1973 was a big year for Stan Brakhage. As far as I can figure, he completed just four films in ’73, but two major events occurred for him. One, he was awarded a Brandeis Citation. Second, editor Annette Michelson devoted the entire January issue of Artforum to both Brakhage and Sergei Eisenstein.

Michelson herself wrote an influential piece on Brakhage called “Camera Lucida/Camera Obscura.” Senses of Cinema calls the piece “among the most eloquent and profound theoretical accounts of Brakhage’s achievement.”

I’m not sure if the following is the full list of other articles on Brakhage, but here’s the titles of the other pieces I found: “Stan Brakhage: Four Films” by Paul Arthur; “Scenes from Under Childhood” by Phoebe Cohen; “Stan and Jane Brakhage, Talking” by Hollis Frampton and “‘Western History’ and ‘The Riddle of Lumen'” by Fred Camper.

The only underground film festival I could find screening in ’73 was the Festival of Independent Avant-Garde Film, which ran Sept. 3-16 in London. While I don’t have a list of the films that screened, the site LUX Online has the program guide’s introduction as both a scan and re-typed for the web. Here’s the opening couple of sentences, which I really like:

No label has been found that will satisfactorily cover that area of film known variously as ‘underground’, ‘avant-garde’, ‘experimental’ and ‘independent’. However what has been discovered is that this sort of film, in all the extremely different forms it takes, is now truly here to stay. Not only was the ‘underground’ not a temporary aberration but people are grudgingly having to recognise that it is a movement from which have emerged some of the most important film-makers of the last decade.

Yes, the underground was “here to stay,” although trying to find information about what was going on in the underground scene in the ’70s is extremely difficult, which is what gave me the idea to do this Yearbook series in the first place. As for this particular festival, the only filmmakers listed in the intro as screening there are Ken Jacobs and George Landow. I’m extremely curious now to know who else they would have considered significant. Also, the catalog intro was co-written by Simon Field and David Curtis. Two years earlier, Curtis had his book Experimental Cinema: A Fifty Year Evolution published.

In the “midnight movie” arena, Alejandro Jodorowsky followed up his wildly successful El Topo with The Holy Mountain. Also, Paul Morrissey directed Flesh for Frankenstein, a campy horror flick produced by Andy Warhol that was released in 3-D.

Born in 1973 were Matt McCormick; future filmmaker and founder of the Peripheral Produce DVD distribution label and the PDX Film Festival; and Sadie Benning, daughter of experimental filmmaker James Benning, a future filmmaker herself, and a member of the post-riot grrl band Le Tigre.

Below is the list of films that I compiled with an official release date of 1973, organized alphabetically by director’s last name. This isn’t meant to be a complete list, but just what I could find so far on the Canyon Cinema and Film-makers’ Cooperative‘s online catalogs, plus a few other random sources. If anyone has a film to add, along with proof of year of completion, please leave a comment below.

This being the third list I’ve produced, I still haven’t studied them in detail other than just typing up the data. However, it’s starting to feel that for each year the list has gotten much longer than the previous one.

Norman R. Abrams: Sideissue

Rudy Albers: Cycle

Yvonne Andersen: Yellow Ball Cache

Kenneth Anger: Lucifer Rising

Ralph Arlyck: An Acquired Taste
Natural Habitat

Charles Atlas: Walkaround Time

Frederick Bailey: Monster Movie

Tony Bannon: Baroque Variations
Citizens of What Country

James Benning: 57
Honeyland Road

Les Blank: Dry Wood
Hot Pepper

Stan Brakhage: Sincerity I
The Women
Sexual Meditation: Open Field

Bill Brand: Demolition of a Wall
Touch Tone Phone Film

Robert Breer: Fuji

James Broughton: High Kukus

Rudolph Burckhardt: Caterpillar

Silvestre Byrón: Allan Poe: La Casa Usher
El último corto
Las chicas de Flores

James Cagle: Matrix

Pola Chapelle: How to Draw a Cat

Doris Chase: Sculpture on the Move

Tom Chomont: Re: Incarnation

Karl Cohen: Ralph’s Busy Day

Roy Colmer: Metamorphosis

Arnold Eagle: Noguchi: A Sculptor’s World

Ed Emshwiller: Chrysalis

William Farley: Sea Space

Morgan Fisher: Picture and Sound Rushes

Colen Fitzgibbon: Found Film Flashes

Focus Pocus Film Squad: An Open Letter

Hollis Frampton: Less
Nostalgia (Hapax Legomena I)

Freude: My Life in Art
Women & Children At Large

John Gati: Emotions at Sunset

Peter Gidal: Room Film 1973

Myrel Glick: XXXXXXX

Silvianna Goldsmith: The Transformation of Persephone

Bette Gordon: Michigan Avenue (Made with James Benning.)

Larry Gottheim: Horizons (Elective Affinities, Part 1)

Nancy Graves: Aves: Magnificent Frigate Bird, Great Flamingo

Amy Greenfield: Element

George Griffin: Trikfilm 1
Trikfilm 3

Red Grooms: Hippodrome Hardware

Walter Gutman: The Very Brief Romance of Barbara Frietchie and Stonewall Jackson

Robert Haller: Notes on the Buffalo Conference: “Autobiography in American Independent Cinema”

Amy Halpern: Peach Landscape

Barbara Hammer: Sisters!

Leonard M. Henny: Getting It Together

Isa Hesse-Rabinovich: About a Tapestry

Storm De Hirsch: Lace of Summer
Wintergarden. Hudson River Diary Book: III
River Ghost. Hudson River Diary Book: IV
September Express

Louis Hock: Zebra

Doloris Holmes: Room of the White Mask

Takahiko Iimura: + & – (Plus and Minus)
1 To 60 Seconds

Tom Jancar: Four Stages of Cruelty

Jim Jennings: Proximity

Larry Jordan: Orb

Marjorie Keller: The Outer Circle

Chester Kessler: Columbarium

Alexis Krasilovsky: Charlie Dozes Off & the Dog Bothers Him
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Guerrilla Commercial

James Krell: The Shoreline of China

Daina Krumins: The Divine Miracle

George Kuchar: The Devil’s Cleavage

Owen Land: Thank You Jesus for the Eternal Present

Maria Lassnig: Self Portrait

Dave Lee: Duskly Driven Drift
Elixer of Growth
Fish of the Helix
One to One
Seeds of Sky

Saul Levine: The Big Stick
Note to Erik
Travel Note and Sketch

Michael Lovell: Birds of Paradise

Fredric Martin: In the Beginning
Sublimated Birth

Pamela Mayo: Emouna

Anthony McCall: Line Describing a Cone

Curt McDowell: A Night With Gilda Peck

Richard Meltzer: Cots for Sleeping Six Abreast

Tom Palazzolo: Love It/Leave It

Suzan Pitt: Jefferson Circus Songs

Lawrence Rice: Work in Progress

Alister Sanderson: Birdfilm
Moving Life

Ralph Schreiber: Framework

Paul Sharits: Axiomatic Granularity

Daniel Singelenberg: Another Shot

John Smith: The Hut

H.C. Solomon: The South Street Seaport Museum

Tyler Turkle: Spider – 71-50

Jon Voorhees: Whispers Delaying Grace

Michael Wallin: Sleepwalk

Peter Whitehead: Daddy (co-directed with Niki de St. Phalle)

Charles Wright: Surprised

Jud Yalkut: China Cat Sunflower
John Cage Mushroom Hunting in Stony Point
Slop Print

Greg Yaskot: July 1973 TV Images