The email arrived like any another — just another annoying press release, this one announcing the venerable Anthology Film Archives celebrating its 35th anniversary next weekend. Good for them. Avant-garde luminary Jonas Mekas started the Anthology as a beacon for classic foreign and soon-to-be-classic American independent films in the late 1960s. For me, it still represents the gloriously beatnik New York of Allen Ginsberg and John Cassavetes (I first saw “Faces” and “Husbands” at Anthology in the early ’90s and I’ll never forget the experience) — it is one of the last bastions of a seedier, seamlier, artier and simply more alive New York City that has since been buried in French bistros (the Lower East Side, why, why?)
So, how totally fucked up is it that Anthology’s festival is called “Altoids IN THE TIN: A Celebration of Anthology Film Archives’ 35th Anniversay.” What could be a surer sign of the utter collapse of the East Village’s soul? The twenty-story glass-and-aluminum Hotel on Rivington is bad enough, but Altoids using its “curiously strong” ad-copy to describe Anthology’s Essential Cinema makes me gag. I’d expect this kind of sponsorship from just about every other venue (maybe not Two Boots’ Pioneer): Sundance, Tribeca, Lincoln Center, Gen Art — Altoids: take them. But not the Anthology. Not Jonas Mekas. Not the brick-and-mortar icon of underground cinema.
I’m all for honoring Anthology, but if I see a single Altoid in the building, I will surely choke on their curiously crass and vomitous opportunism.