Millennium Film Workshop
The Millennium Film Workshop is a non-profit media arts center and cinema located in the East Village neighborhood of New York City dedicated to the exhibition, study, and practice of avant-garde and experimental film, video, and all technologies of the moving image.
An integral part of the film and video history of the area, The Millennium Film Workshop was born during the 1960s counter-cultural period in the East Village of New York City. The Millennium was one of a group of arts workshops set up in 1965-66 on the Lower East Side by St. Marks Church and the New School as part of the federal government’s anti-poverty program (This is where the St. Mark's Poetry Project got its start). Filmmaker, Ken Jacobs was appointed the first director, and in the fall of 1966 he set up a film series at the church on Sunday afternoons – mostly one-person programs open to any filmmaker with a body of work. Jacobs also launched separate “open screenings,” where he led discussions between the filmmakers and audience, pioneering the one-person film-talk format in the United States and establishing it as a vital and distinctive feature of the organization.
In 1967, the organization became independent and moved to an old courthouse on Second Street and Second Avenue, the building now used by Anthology Film Archives. Workshops were introduced where various filmmakers taught classes in cinematography, sound, and editing. In 1971, filmmaker Howard Guttenplan took the role of Executive Director and held the position until 2011. Discontent with the parochial scope of North American avant-garde film at the time (mid-1970s), Guttenplan initiated a broadened field by inviting leading foreign filmmakers from Britain, Germany, France, Hungary, Poland, Japan, and other regions to make their North American debuts at Millennium.
The organization moved to various locations in lower Manhattan, including a loft space on Great Jones Street (1969–1974), before settling in its long-term home at 66 East 4th Street in 1974. The Millennium Film Journal was launched in 1978; it is now one of the oldest continuously published journals of the avant-garde, independent or experimental cinema in existence. Finally, in 1999, Millennium established a regular series of photography and art exhibitions by and about media artists in its in-house gallery.
The Millennium Film Workshop offers five major programs and services, including the Personal Cinema Series, the Workshop Program, Equipment Access Service, the Millennium Film Journal, and the Millennium Gallery.
Personal Cinema Series
The three-part (fall, winter, spring) series features programs of avant-garde and experimental cinema from around the world. The organization uses the term “Personal Cinema,” to describe the nature of the work presented: "I called it 'personal cinema' early on and I think that might be a better description and a more precise term. It's very personal, usually made by one person, free to investigate a wide range of ideas, subject matter, and forms. This work relates more closely to the art world than to traditional movies,"  says director, Howard Guttenplan.
The great majority of shows are one-person programs with the artist present to discuss their work with the audience. The film-talk format is also applied to numerous group programs, shows featuring different media in conjunction with performance, and open screenings that operate as part of the Personal Cinema Series. The latter format has been a regular part of the series since the founding of the organization and creates opportunities for younger media artists to show their work to the public, often for the first time.
The series hopes to serve the presenting artists and contribute to the field of experimental cinema by continuing to provide opportunities for accomplished and experienced filmmakers as well as emerging and student media artists to show and discuss their work. Over the years the Personal Cinema Series has introduced numerous artists to the public, gaining a national and international reputation for identifying artists who change the terms in which avant-garde cinema is discussed. Among those artists who were given the opportunity to mount their first (or one of their first) one-person shows at Millennium are: Hollis Frampton, Clayton Patterson, Jennifer Reeves, Donna Cameron, Bill Morrison, Fred Worden, M.M. Serra, Todd Haynes,Vivienne Dick, Holly Fisher, Sharon Greytak, Lewis Klahr, and Su Friedrich.
Many of the most influential avant-garde filmmakers of the last four decades have premiered their newest work in the series. This list includes Stan Brakhage, Jon Jost, Kenneth Anger, Carolee Schneeman, Valie Export, Paul Sharits, Michael Snow, Malcolm Le Grice, Yvonne Rainer, Bruce Conner, Robert Breer, Birgit Hein, Ernie Gehr, Abigail Child, Amy Greenfield, James Benning, Rudy Burckhardt, among others. The Millennium worked closely with the late Jack Smith, who showed his controversial films and gave live performances in the cinema. The legendary Stan Brakhage was a passionate supporter of the organization and premiered many of his major films in the cinema, appearing in person almost yearly over a period of thirty years. In addition, Millennium has provided space for experimental theatre works and personalities, including Charles Ludlam, Allen Ginsberg, Stuart Sherman, Tony Conrad, Jackson MacLow, and others. The series has enabled these artists to experiment in ways that would be inappropriate for mainstream venues that attract larger audiences. In 1991, The Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to the organization for its 25th Anniversary by presenting a 13-show program of groundbreaking films that had premiered at Millennium over the years.
Workshop program & equipment access
The Workshop Program features classes in film and video production given by highly respected, working media artists. Past and present instructors include Alan Berliner, Su Friedrich, Barbara Hammer, Paul Sharits, Jud Yalkut, Ross McLaren, Jennifer Reeves, Kelly Spivey, Noël Carroll, Nisi Jacobs, Rachel Shuman, and Jon Jost. Workshop topics include optical printing, Final Cut Pro editing, Steenbeck editing, 16mm and Super 8mm film gauges and digital video. The organization is one of the only remaining establishments in New York City that provides classes, facilities, and equipment rental for optical printing and Super 8 mm film. There also exists access to screening rooms, editing facilities, and film/video production equipment. Rates and fees remain inexpensive in order to maintain accessibility for artists who are otherwise unable to afford market rate costs. As a result, the users of these services represent a wide range of film/video makers, from the beginning film student to some of the most famous international artists. Oliver Stone, Joie Lee, Jim Jarmusch, and Susan Seidelman were members and equipment users. Andy Warhol used the editing rooms in the 1960s, and Jean-Luc Godard used the screening room services to view a film by Amos Poe in the 1980s.
The Millennium Film Journal
The Millennium Film Journal, dedicated to avant-garde cinema theory and practice, provides a forum for discussion and debate in the United States and abroad. The journal is currently edited by Grahame Weinbren and Jessica Ruffin. The publication was established by 1978 by Howard Guttenplan, Alister Sanderson, Vicki Peterson, and David Shapiro in response to the lack of substantial writing about independent filmmakers and their work. Published bi-annually, each issue focuses on a particular theme or subject, ranging in aspects of artistic practice, e.g. The Script Issue (1991), Interactivities (1995), Paracinema and Performance (2005), through the social and political, e.g. Politics/Landscape (1979), Winds From the East (2002), to a focus on individual filmmakers or regions, e.g. Beavers/Markopoulos (1998), Deutschland/Interviews (1997), and the special issue entitled Brakhage at the Millennium (2007/2008), which documents Stan Brakhage's film-talks at the Millennium over a thirty year period with transcriptions, letters and photographs from the organization's artist archives.
The journal is interested in writing about the individual artist from the emerging to the established, and in theoretical considerations or overviews of independent cinema. Writers range from firmly established to unknown; the Hybrids issue (Fall, 2006), for example, includes the first publication of a new kind of research by renowned scholar, Lev Manovich and “VJ Diary” by Jessica Ruffin, a then undergraduate in the Film Studies program of Stanford University, now an editor of the journal. Other notable authors include Paul Arthur, Mike Hoolbloom, J. Hoberman, Fred Camper, Joan Copjec, David James, AL Rees, Mary Ann Doane, Birgit Hein, Chris Hill, Vivian Sobchack, Scott MacDonald, Amy Taubin, Noël Carroll, P. Adams Sitney.
Amy Taubin contributed the first article about video, And what is a fact anyway? (On a tape by Martha Rosler) in Politics/Landscape (No.s 4/5, 1979). The article’s discussion of video work opened a new direction for the journal wherein it acknowledged that cinema has developed and is developing in several media simultaneously, as such the misconception that there is one history of film, another of video, and yet a third of so-called digital works, often occurs and thus leads to a misinterpretation of work in the field. The article suggested that to avoid this, one must see experimental cinema as containing multiple streams of history that overlap and intermingle. In the last 30 years the Millennium Film Journal has made a deliberate effort to capture this epistemological multiplicity. Since 1990 the journal has devoted as much as half of its space to video and new media work.
In 1995, the School of Visual Arts donated space on their server for the journal website, and consequently it was one of the first print journals with an online presence. The website includes the texts of most articles since 1993.
- Galm 2005, p 113
- Galm 2005, p 114
- Sitney 1974, p 385
- Galm 2005, p 116
- Davis 2008
- Morgan 2005
- Weinbren 2005, p 118
- Davis, Glyn, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (Wallflower Press, 2008) ISBN 978-1-905674-88-6
- Galm, R., “The Millennium Film Workshop in Love” in Patterson, Clayton (Ed.), Captured: A Film & Video History of the Lower East Side (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005) pp 113–116, ISBN 978-1-58322-674-2
- Morgan, S., "Kodak, Don't Take My Kodachrome", The New York Times, May 31, 2005. Accessed June 17, 2010.
- Sitney, P. Adams, Visionary Film: The American Avant Garde, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974)
- Weinbren, G., “25 Years, 26 Books: The Millennium Film Journal” in Patterson, Clayton (Ed.), Captured: A Film & Video History of the Lower East Side (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005) pp 117–118, ISBN 978-1-58322-674-2
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