Film As a Subversive Art is a montly program being put on by The New Inquiry and Spectacle Theater in honor of Amos Vogel’s book of the same title. Vogel died in April of 2012, but his contributions to film criticism and New York film culture live on. His film club, Cinema 16, which ran in the sixties, brought directors like Ozu, Bresson, Resnais and Varda to New York audiences for the first time. Vogel started both the New York Film Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, once radical institutions that now, well, continue to exist.
Film as a Subversive Art continues to exist as well, but this is one of those rare books which resists recuperation, beyond of course its being sold and put into the ghetto of the “film historical”. The book itself is full of disturbing, pornographic, and violent images: reading it on the subway causes a certain awkardness. But more than just the destabilizing force of its own images, the book proposes something important: How can film be revolutionary? How can it be a tool in the destruction of all that exists?
Published in 1974, it appeared near the end of a particularly revolutionary period. We find ourselves in another one. According to the folks at Miriam-Webster, the most looked up word in 2012 was “capitalism”. Vogel’s death was the direct impetus for this series, but the question of what, if anything, film can do in the current round of struggles appearing all over the world is the pressing one.
The book is organized into chapters which break down different methods of attack, different strategies and routes of combat available to cinema. Each monthly screening will focus on one section of the book. On Thursday, we’ll be looking at films from the section Straining Towards the Limits. We will watch films that, according to Vogel, “Eliminate the screen, the camera, subvert illusionism and eliminate the artist.”
There will be two screenings, one at 7:30 and one at 10:00PM, each featuring different films and introductions by New Inquiry editor Willie Osterweil and members of the Anti-Banality Union, the filmmakers behind Unclear Holocaust and the upcoming Police Mortality.
Thursday, January 31
124 S. 3rd st