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Underground Film Yearbook: 1978

By Mike Everleth ⋅ January 22, 2009

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

Underground filmmaking exploded out of NYC’s Lower East Side in 1978 with what’s generally called the “No Wave” movement, although some also use the term “New Cinema.” Actually, all of the arts — e.g. painting, music, filmmaking — collided and many artists worked in a multidisciplinary fashion. One example in particular is James Nares, who painted, drummed for the Del-Byzanteens with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and directed the influential Rome ’78.

Nares was also one of the founding members of Collaborative Projects, more commonly known as Colab, a collective of around forty artists that organized different performances, art shows and film screenings. Another Colab filmmaker was Eric Mitchell, a French filmmaker who directed Kidnapped in ’78. Another major No Wave figure, Amos Poe directed his second fictional feature, The Foreigner.

’78 also saw several films from the then-married team of Beth B. & Scott B., who made G-Man, Black Box and Letters to Dad, which were early precursors to the Cinema of Transgression movement that was proclaimed by Nick Zedd in the early ’80s.

The No Wave was also big on TV via two popular public access programs. One was All Color News, which was produced by Colab members and featured a combination of documentary and fictional presentations. Also, entertainment journalist Glenn O’Brien launched TV Party on Dec. 18. The show was structured like a typical late-night program, but done in the popular, chaotic, no-budget No Wave style with O’Brien acting as host, interviewing various Lower East Side art personalities, answering calls from New Yorkers and introducing punk musical acts. Most episodes of TV Party were directed by Amos Poe and several filmmakers appeared as guests and showed clips from their films. BrinkDVD is currently putting out a selection of episodes on disc. I reviewed an early episode here.

Lastly, in NYC, the Millenium Film Workshop, which hosted underground film screenings and provided services to filmmakers since the late ’60s, published the first issue of the Millenium Film Journal, which is still published annually today. The first issue included the article “Autobiography in Avant-Garde Film” by popular underground film historian P. Adams Sitney; plus an interview with filmmaker Ken Jacobs conducted by David Shapiro.

Outside of New York, Craig Baldwin directed his first 16mm film, Wild Gunman. Baldwin would eventually become a major figure in the avant-garde film world for his collage narrative filmmaking techniques, but also for founding the Other Cinema screening series in San Francisco.

Below is the list of films that I compiled with an official release date of 1978, 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 and the Film-makers’ Cooperative’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.

Rebecca Abbott: The Big Waltz

Gary Adlestein: Cat’s Eyes

Sara Kathryn Arledge: Interior Garden
Tender Images

Beth B. & Scott B.: G-Man
Black Box
Letters to Dad

Bruce Baillie: Roslyn Romance (Is It Really True): Intro 1 & 2

Craig Baldwin: Wild Gunman

Gordon Ball: Father Movie

Daniel Barnett: The Chinese Typewriter

Stephanie Beroes: Recital

Les Blank: Always For Pleasure

Beth Block: The Lovers

Stan Brakhage: Bird
Burial Path
Duplicity II
Nightmare Series
Purity, and After
Sincerity III
23rd Psalm Branch: Part I
23rd Psalm Branch: Part II

Bill Brand: Works in the Field

Robert Breer: LMNO

Betzy Bromberg: Ciao Bella

Rudolph Burckhardt: Alex Katz Painting

Niccolo Caldararo: The Payment of Teresa Videla

Gail Camhi: Bellevue Film

Doris Chase: Dance Frame

Abigail Child: Daylight Test Section
Peripeteia 2

Tom Chomont: The Heavens/Earth

Michael Connor: Dirt

Sandra Davis: Soma

Herbert Jean deGrasse: Salivation of Professor Bizarrov

Vivienne Dick: Guerillere Talks
She Had Her Gun All Ready

Gary Doberman: The Moieties
The Moth-Eyed Man

Victor Faccinto: Book of Dead

Corwin Fergus: November Sketches

Mary Filippo: I’m in Heaven

Janice Findley: Tripletime

Holly Fisher: Chickenstew
From the Ladies
This Is Montage

Bob Fleischner: Paradise

Dave Gearey: Chet’s Garage

Joe Gibbons: Spying

Peter Gidal: 4th Wall

Paul Glabicki: Diagram Film

Joseph Glin: Endymion

Larry Gottheim: Four Shadows

Victor Grauer: Composition 1
Portrait 5

Amy Greenfield: Videotape for a Woman and a Man

Vincent Grenier: Interieur Interiors (to A.K.)

George Griffin: Block Print

Red Grooms: Little Red Riding Hood

Pat Gruben: The Central Character

Walter Gutman: The Erotic Signal

Howard Guttenplan: European Diary

Amy Halpern: Cigarette Burn

Barbara Hammer: Double Strength

Isa Hesse-Rabinovich: Julie From Ohio

Henry Hills: North Beach

Solrun Hoaas: At Edge

J. Hoberman: Broken Honeymoon #3
Mission to Mongo

Nancy Holt: Sun Tunnels

Chuck Hudina: Howie

Robert Huot: Fades and Close-Ups

Takahiko Iimura: Ma: A Japanese Concept
Sync Sound

Ken Jacobs: The Doctor’s Dream

Nora Jacobson: Inside Out

Derek Jarman: Jubilee

Jim Jennings: Chambers

Flip Johnson: Wild Animals in the Zoo

Lawrence Jordan: Visions of a City
Cornell, 1965

Lisa Kaplan: Healing Process

Marjorie Keller: On the Verge of an Image of Christmas

Lynn Marie Kirby: C.C. Beam Goes for a Walk

John Knecht: The Primary Concerns of Roy G. Biv

Bill Knowland: Implosions

Ken Kobland: Vestibule (in 3 Episodes)
Picking up the Pieces/3 Mis-Takes

Karen Kramer: The Jolo Serpent Handlers

Alexis Krasilovsky: Mr. Boogie Woogie

James Krell: All Area
Alpine Lookout #3
Kay Serra Serra/The Mirrors (New Paltz Diary, 1975)

Kurt Kren: 36/78: Rischart
37/78: Tree Again

Lee Krugman: 3 Views
P. M.

George Kuchar: Forever and Always
The Mongreloid

Saul Levine: Not Even a Note
Time to Go to Work

Janis Crystal Lipzin: The Bladderwort Document
Visible Inventory Six: Motel Dissolve

Rose Lowder: Roulement, rouerie, aubage

Babette Mangolte: Water Motor

Katrina Martin: Silkscreen
Tyrone, PA.

Deborah Meehan: Former Prairie

Jonas Mekas: In Between: 1964-68
Notes for Jerome

Toney Merritt: Fall Works
Green Mountain
Just a Thought

Eric Mitchell: Kidnapped

Andy Moore: Room List
Sound and Vision, Station to Station

Deanna Morse: Starcycle

Richard Myers: Floorshow

James Nares: Rome ’78

Pat O’Neill: Foregrounds
Sleeping Dogs (Never Lie)

Fred Padula: El Capitan

Philip Perkins: Time Passes
Works on Paper

Suzan Pitt: Asparagus

Amos Poe: The Foreigner

Robert Rayher: A Man in the Box
Still Life #1: Cherries

D.J. Romino: Hollow Vale

Jeffrey Noyes Scher: Aria Striata

Rick Schmidt: 1988 – The Remake

Steve Schuler: Uncle Bill’s

Paul Sharits: Episodic Generation

Esther Shatavsky: After Dinner Science
Fishs Eddy

Daniel Singelenberg: Lover

Single Spark Films: Mao Tse-Tung, the Greatest Revolutionary of Our Time

John Smith: Hackney Marshes

Warren Sonbert: Divided Loyalties

Anita Thacher: Sea Travels

Tyler Turkle: Lincoln Logs for Jesus

Willie Varela: Albuquerque Diary
Two Rolls

Victor Vondracek: Mr. Guest Meets Dr. Fake
Mrs. Wong
Revenge of Mr. Guest

Grahame Weinbren: Murray & Max Talk About Money

Kim Worden: Marie

Greg Yaskot: Parker Mill

Andrej Zdravic: Via Sound

Peter Von Ziegesar: Who Shall Remain Nameless