Karen Cooper became the director of Film Forum in 1972, two years after its founding as an alternative space for independent cinema on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For the past twenty years, Film Forum has inhabited a three-screen movie house in the West Village, where it continues to present an array of international films that confront diverse social, political, historical, and cultural realities.

To celebrate Film Forum’s fortieth anniversary and the crucial role Cooper has played in keeping it a vital part of New York’s film culture, MoMA’s Department of Film invited her to curate an exhibition of nonfiction films that premiered at Film Forum. While many of the films are drawn from MoMA’s own collection, some have been loaned by distributors and filmmakers, to whom we are very grateful. Just a glance at the titles she chose gives a sense of the diversity and richness of Film Forum’s offerings through the years. Cooper supplements several of the screenings with complementary short films, a staple of Film Forum’s cutting-edge programming. The following film descriptions are excerpted from materials written by Cooper for Film Forum’s original presentations.

Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film.