OK Today Tomorrow. 1983. USA. Directed by Harald Vogl. Written by Vogl, Seth Tillett, and Bibiena Houwer. Cinematography by Tillett. With Joan Waltemath, Terence Sellers, Arto Lindsay, Jef Bretschneider, Tom Wright, Mr Parker Senior, Sedeo Dubai. Digital video from Super8mm. 93 min.
Arriving in the US with a background in abstract art, opera, and film—including work with German director Werner Schroeter—Vogl began making Super8 films in New York that stripped away the stylistic markers of Hollywood, New Wave cinema of the 1960s and ’70s, and classic avant-garde film, leaving only traces of their generic conventions. For the first hour of OK Today Tomorrow, he stages a series of fraught encounters around the city between four gentrified New Yorkers before abandoning his vague narrative of youthful angst altogether in favor of documenting the urban landscape itself. The dusk-to-dawn “city symphony” that ends the film resembles similar Super8 social studies by Vogl’s uptown contemporary John Ahearn; both recorded the daily lives of working-class black and immigrant communities on the streets of a city on the verge of the corporate takeover and sweeping gentrification that followed in the 1980s and ’90s. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.