Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Underground Film News

Underground Film Yearbook: 1975

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 6, 2008

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

In a quiet way, 1975 was a big year for underground film. It’s not that many major events occurred in this year, but the seeds of the underground’s eventual revival in the ’80s seem to be planted this year.

First, the year began with an ending. Although it started in ’74, the 5th International Experimental Film Competition Knokke-Heist, Belgium — also known as EXPRMNTL 5 — concluded on Jan. 2. As I said in my previous post, Kokke-Heist had once been the premiere avant-garde film festival in the world, but by ’75 it had lost its luster and this would be it’s final edition.

There was one “birth” in ’75 when filmmakers Jerry Orr, Gary Adlestein and Jerry Tartaglia founded Berks Filmmakers, Inc., a nonprofit media arts center in Reading, Pennsylvania that is dedicated to avant-garde and experimental film. What’s especially interesting about Berks is that it was created outside of a major metropolitan center, like NYC, Los Angeles or San Francisco, and thus outside of the traditional spheres of underground filmmaking communities. The center is still open today and screening underground films with the filmmakers in attendance, along with smaller traditionally “indie” films.

The king of the midnight movies made its debut in ’75, too. The Rocky Horror Picture Show totally bombed during its initial theatrical run beginning on Sept. 26 and It wouldn’t be until about seven months later when the film re-opened as an audience participation event that it would take off as a true cult classic. The movie, and the original stage show, was directed by avant-garde theater director Jim Sharman whose only previous movie directing experience was the Australian underground film Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens (1968).

In a similar vein, the roots of punk cinema began to germinate in ’75, which would eventually lead to the rise of the Cinema of Transgression in the ’80s. First, Amos Poe and Ivan Kral directed their first film together, Night Lunch, a music documentary that was the precursor to their more famous follow-up punk rock documentary, The Blank Generation. Also, painter James Nares directed two short films, Roof and Handnotes #2. Nares would later move to the forefront of the “No Wave” film movement with his feature film Rome ’78, which he would actually make in ’78. Finally, on a tangential note, Amy Taubin made three short films in 1975 (listed below). Taubin would go on to inadvertantly christen the Cinema of Transgression movement while as a film critic for the Soho Weekly News after leaving a screening of Nick Zedd‘s They Eat Scum in ’78.

On the book front, P. Adams Sitney followed up his groundbreaking history of the avant-garde, Visionary Film, by editing the anthology The Essential Cinema, a series of essays on the 300 films that made up the initial collection of the world’s first “film museum,” the Anthology Film Archives. Also, filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin published his own history of the avant-garde called Film Is: The International Free Cinema. Both books have been long out of print. (Which sucks, by the way.)

Below is the list of films that I compiled with an official release date of 1975, organized alphabetically by director’s last name. This isn’t meant to be a complete list, but just what I could find so far mostly on the Canyon Cinema, Film-makers’ Cooperative and Video Data Bank‘s online catalogs, plus other random info I’ve found on the web. If anyone has a film to add, along with proof of year of completion, please leave a comment below.

Dominic Angerame: Scratches, Inc.

Ant Farm: Cadillac Ranch/Media Burn

Daniel Barnett: White Heart

Le Ann Bartok: Skyworks, Wind & Fire

Stephen Beck & Jordan Belson: Cycles

Adam Beckett: Kitsch in Synch

James Benning: 9/1/75
The United States of America

Alan Berliner: Patent Pending

Stephanie Beroes: Light Sleeping

Bill Brand: An Angry Dig
It Dawn Down
The Central Finger
Before the Fact
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
New York State Primaries
Still at Work
The Trail to Koskimo, His First Hunt

Stan Brakhage: Short Films 1975 1-10
Sincerity II

Robert Breer: Rubber Cement

Richard Brick: Last Stand Farmer

James Broughton: The Water Circle

Jacob Burckhardt: Morir En New York

Rudy Burckhardt: City Pasture
Default Averted

Doris Chase: Dance 7
Dance 9
Dance 11
The Philadelphia Quartet

Tom Chomont: Life Style/Untitled/”.”

Karl Cohen: The Streetwalker & The Gentleman

Tony Conrad: Articulation of Boolean Algebra for Film Opticals

Robert Cowan: 100 Chinese Opera Masks

Robert Crawford: Two Feet Under the Roof

Eduardo Darino: Frasconi

Cara Devito: Ama L’Uomo Tuo (Always Love Your Man)

Gary Doberman: Full Moon Notebook

Robert Downey Sr.: Moment to Moment

Mike Dunford: In the Dark

JoAnn Elam: Rape

R. Bruce Elder: She Is Away

Olivier Esmein: L’homme N’est Meme Pas Un Oiseau

Victor Faccinto: Exercise

William Farley: Being

Bob Fleischner: Max’s Shirt

Hollis Frampton: Pas De Trois

Dave Gearey: Branches

Ernie Gehr: Behind the Scenes

Peter Gidal: Condition of Illusion

Silvianna Goldsmith: Lil Picard, Art Is a Party
Nightclub, Memories of Havana in Queens
Orpheus Underground

Bette Gordon: Still Life

Daniel Graham: Performer/Audience/Mirror

Vincent Grenier: Catch
Light Shaft

George Griffin: The Club
L’Age Door
The Meadow’s Green

Deedee Halleck: Jaraslawa

Amy Halpern: Filament (The Hands)

Barbara Hammer: Psychosynthesis

Doug Haynes: Choo Choo

Abbie Herrick: Fifty Years: An Album

Storm De Hirsch: Geometrics of the Kabbalah

Chuck Hudina: Bicycle
Ruby Red
Sound Stills

Louis Hock: Light Traps
Still Lives
Studies in Chronovision

Nancy Holt: Pine Barrens

Peter Hutton: Florence

Takahiko Iimura: 24 Frames Per Second
24 Frames Per Second (Revised)
On Time in Film

Ken Jacobs: Urban Peasants

Roger Jacoby: Aged in Wood
Kunst Life I-III
Pearl and Puppet

Jim Jennings: Leaves

Marjorie Keller: Film Notebook: Part 1
Superimposition (1)

Stan King: Actor Talk
The John Paskiewicz Portrait Film

Peter Kingsbury: Cuts

Paul Kos: Riley, Roily, River

Robert Kramer: Milestones

Alexis Krasilovsky: Blood

James Krell: Coda/M. C.
Wolverine Kills T. V.

Kurt Kren: 31/75 Asylum

Lee Krugman: Land & Sea

Shigeko Kubota: My Father

Owen Land: No Sir, Orison
Wide Angle Saxon

Richard Levine: Beasts of Nazareth

Saul Levine: Memorial Day Portrayal

Barbara Linkevitch: Chinamoon

Lenny Lipton: Adirondack Holiday
Children of the Golden West
Father’s Day
Hilltop Nursery
Nadine’s Song
Revelation of the Foundation
The Story of a Man (Going Down in Flames)

Babette Mangolte: What Maisie Knew

Curt McDowell: Fly Me to the Moon
Nudes (A Sketchbook)

Richard Merciez: The Martyr

Toney Merritt: 6 to 8 AM

Antonio Muntadas: Transfer

Philip Perkins: A Window

Dan Perz: Home

Kon Petrochuk: Moomoons

Suzan Pitt: Bowl, Theatre, Garden, Marble Game

D.J. Romino: Habitue
The Nexus

Peter Rose: Chambers of the Fire Dream
Study in Diachronic Motion

Martha Rosler: Semiotics of the Kitchen

Rick Schmidt: A Man, a Woman, and a Killer

Rosalind Schneider: Life Notes I

Greg Sharits: Untitled No. 6

Paul Sharits: Apparent Motion
Shutter Interface

Single Spark Films: Breaking With Old Ideas

John Smith: Faces 1
Leading Light
Nine Short Stories
Subjective Tick-Tocks

Bob Snyder: Winter Notebook

Amy Taubin: Duck

Anita Thacher: Homage to Magritte

Leslie Thornton: X-Tracts

Tyler Turkle: Observeillance

Michael Wallin: The Place Between Our Bodies

Lawrence Weiner: A First Quarter
A Second Quarter

Steven Weisberg: Happy Birthday

Doug Wendt: Staid Poot

Lloyd Williams: Rainbow’s Children

Doris Wishman: The Immoral Three

Andrej Zdravic: Phenix

Art Zipperer: for alice speir