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Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16

New York Premiere

U.K. | 56 MINUTES | English |


Film as a Subversive Art is an historic documentary about Amos Vogel and the creation of Cinema 16, the first large-scale film society in the United States. Cinema 16 flourished from its inception in 1947 to its demise in 1963, after which Vogel became one of the founders of the New York Film Festival. Acting as curator, businessman, and marketing guru, Vogel, his wife Marcia, and business partner Jack Goelman scoured obscure distribution catalogs, contacted filmmakers, assembled programs, and developed a devoted following of many thousands of members who regularly attended the Cinema 16 screenings in Manhattan. The society's organizers were dedicated to promoting films expressing a different kind of "visual sensibility, in contrast to commercial Hollywood entertainment films." They showed a stimulating and often controversial mix of such overlooked genres as scientific, experimental, and political films. They actively promoted works of such signature artists as avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren, Polish film school student Roman Polanski, and independent filmmaker John Cassavettes (whose Shadows screens in this year's Festival). Director Paul Cronin records the free-form reminiscences of Cinema 16's organizers, together with commentary by Scott MacDonald, who recently wrote the authoritative book on the history of Cinema 16. In addition to the talking heads, Film as a Subversive Art is interspersed with clips from movies which were once projected at Cinema 16, thereby providing today's audiences with a first-hand visual representation of the cutting edge films that Amos Vogel so effectively championed.


Directed by Paul Cronin and Erik Moe

Paul Cronin was born in London, England, in 1972. He published an interview book with German director Werner Herzog, Herzog on Herzog (2002), and is also editing two more collections of interviews, with directors Roman Polanski and Errol Morris. His film, Look out Haskell, it's real!: The Making of Medium Cool (2001), about Haskell Wexler's 1969 feature Medium Cool, was screened on the BBC, PBS, and the Sundance Channel. Currently, Cronin is editing a collection of writings by British director Alexander Mackendrick and working on a film about Mackendrick's teaching career.