Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

Stan Brakhage: A "Quiller" Man

Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

Stan Brakhage: A "Quiller" Man

Article excerpt

I first encountered Stan Brakhage and his films in a public lecture at a summer session of the New England University Film Study Center in the early 1970s. The Center's curriculum covered film and video production and the history of cinema. An especially nice feature of the summer school was that each instructor would do an evening presentation so that all the students could get a better sense of his/his contribution to the program. As a Canadian, my understanding of the contemporary avant-garde had been formed by the work and writings of Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland and Jack Chambers and so when Brakhage did his presentation, I was quite taken aback at the intensity of this artist and his films. But it was evident to me then that Brakhage was a filmmaker to be reckoned with and so I took every opportunity to know his work better, often driving to SUNY Buffalo where Gerald O'Grady, that wonderful teacher and promoter of the American avant-garde, organized week-end events, like "Autobiography in the Avant-Garde."

Over the years, Stan and I met many times and it became one of my great pleasures to develop a personal friendship with him. Many know that he was a voracious reader - especially of poetry, biography and art - and that he would generously share his finds. With me, however, he passed along books of a different sort-detective fiction and espionage novels. I don't remember what triggered the exchange, but once it got started I had difficulty keeping up with his gifts. He did expect me to comment on each one and I didn't want to let him down. Reciprocating in kind was hard - he really loved the American "blood and guts" approach while I preferred British writers. But my training as a librarian made me game for anything and so I read whatever he sent. …

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