Academic journal article Framework

Interview with Cecile Starr

Academic journal article Framework

Interview with Cecile Starr

Article excerpt

Cecile Starr was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 14, 1921, and she died in Vermont on December 9, 2014. During World War II she worked at the Australia News and Information Bureau, associated with the Office of War Information and at the March of Time as she moved amongst the greats of documentary filmmaking of the period and Greenwich Village: John Grierson, Robert Flaherty, Damien Parer, Alexander Hammid, Joris Ivens, Helen van Dongen, Raymond Spottiswoode, Helen Levitt, Henwar Rodakiewicz, Willard Van Dyke, Boris Kaufman, Irving Jacoby, Ricky Leacock, and Aram Boyajian, whom she married in 1957, as well as James Agee and Iris Barry. In 1949, Starr started writing film reviews for the Saturday Review of Literature, taught film and film history in the Graduate Program from 1955 to 1961 at Columbia University, and created and coordinated school film programs for the Lincoln Center Education Department from 1967 to 1968. During this period she was particularly active contributing to Sight and Sound, Film Quarterly, and Filmmakers Newsletter. She was an instructor and consultant in film and film history at the New School for Social Research and Hunter College in New York City, the New York Society of Ethical Culture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Walden High School. Starr also consulted for the United Nations World Health Organization, the Institute of Adult Education, the Public Library Inquiry, the Film Council of America, and the Mental Health Film Board. As producer, scriptwriter, and consultant on four films including Fellow Citizen: A. Lincoln (1972), Islamic Carpets (1970), Richter on Film (1972), and Rembrandt and the Bible (1967), Starr turned her scholarly interest in film to a practice born out of her research. Starr also published the books Experimental Animation: Origins of a New Art (1968) (with Robert Russett), Ideas on Film: A Handbook for the 16mm Film User (1971), and Discovering the Movies: An Illustrated Introduction to the Moving Image (1972).

Cecile Starr: Let's go backwards a little. You asked how I got into this. My first real job was at the Australian News Bureau. I got that because a fellow I had known in college at Louisiana State University, he came up to New York at the same time I went to Columbia graduate school. He was going to Harvard business school. He introduced me to his sister. His name was Peter Fritsch, her name was Mia Fritsch, and she had just met a new boyfriend whose name was Jim Agee. I went to dinner at Mia's house with Peter. Jim was there and was very much in love with Mia. Though he was married and had a previous wife divorced and he was young, the relationship with Mia lasted the rest of both their lives. Peter and Mia's brother, the Fritsch family, were kind of early refugees from Nazi Austria. Their brother, Henry, was married to an Australian woman whose name I forget. She was working for the Australian News and Information Bureau, but she came down with TB [tuberculosis] and her doctor said she had to have bed rest for a year. So I was looking for a job, and they asked me if I would take her job. Her job was listening to recordings. This was now 1942, and the recordings were from the Australian government, which were newscasts about what was going on in the war in the South Pacific area where we had some bases and other European countries had some territories. New Guinea. Was it the Dutch that had divided up that place? I started listening to recordings, which were the size of big dinner platters. They were brought in by truck every morning from Montauk, the far end of Long Island. They were received by radio and recorded because it got a clearer sound than if it was recorded in the city. It was from Australia. I then took these recordings about 10 o'clock in the morning and played them on a transcribing machine, typed them out. Then we called the messenger, and the messenger took them by hand to the New York Times, the New York Herald Review, and the New York Daily News. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.