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For decades, Millennium Film Workshop has served as a hub for independent experimental film production and exhibition, a place to bring forth personal cinema, open to anyone seeking a different vision beyond the mainstream. The original Workshop, located in New York City’s East Village from 1966 to 2011, was a community space providing low-cost equipment rentals, access to a screening room and editing facility, and the independence traditionally associated with painters or poets. Such filmmakers and artists as Andy Warhol, James Benning, Bruce Conner, Todd Haynes, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, and Michael Snow screened their work at Millennium, some premiering their first films. Today, Millennium holds instructional workshops for students and adults around the city, and maintains a community of critical engagement through its long-running publication, Millennium Film Journal. Through digital platforms, and in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, Millennium continues to foster experimentation and artistic development in film and video, steadfast in its mission to highlight new and unknown visions from beyond the commercial world of film.
The many changes and adaptations Millennium has weathered over its long years of existence reflect the protean nature of the city it calls its home; though names and places may change, a certain character of filmmaking is always recognizably Millennium, just as our ever-changing city is always recognizably New York. Over the past few decades the filmmakers of Millennium Film Workshop have produced a wide range of films devoted to New York. These films can be understood as a continuation of the venerable “city symphony” genre and a modernization of the genre through new technology, interpretation, and techniques.
This series aims to invoke the spirit of the early City Symphonies and apply it to the New York of the late 20th century and the early part of this century. Each filmmaker in this program has been affiliated with Millennium over the years, some educated through its workshop programs, others active members of their ongoing screening community. Each film offers its own particular and idiosyncratic view of the city, but it is hoped that the screenings will offer something more than just a compilation. Rather, as with any great symphony, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps, when these short films are viewed together, the viewer will gain a deeper understanding of the city, its inner workings, its organic growth, and the profound changes that it has undergone in its recent history.
With this series the Department of Film celebrates its acquisition of the Millennium Film Workshop and Howard Guttenplan Collections. Film selections and program text are by Joe Wakeman and Victoria Campbell.
Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, with Joey Huertas, Joe Wakeman, Victoria Campbell, Roberta Friedman, Steven Siegel, and Paul Echeverria of the Millennium Film Workshop.