New Yorker Films was my first job, and the company has always been in my heart. Dan Talbot and Jose Lopez are truly my heroes.
I’ll always be grateful to those gentlemen for instilling in me the idea that a career in the film industry could be based rather simply on caring passionately about great cinema, and, crucially, believing that we distributors and exhibitors should serve the needs of talented filmmakers. As it turns out, much (most?) of the rest of the film business believes the opposite. It made a big impression on me that, while I worked for Dan and Jose, I knew that they were working for Sembene, Wajda, Kieslowski and Resnais.
Romantic as these core ideals may sound, they helped form the basis for whatever I’ve attempted to do professionally, as I know they’ve inspired many others who have been lucky enough to work with Dan and Jose.
Many people already realize how vital New Yorker Films has been to the development of film culture in the United States. If it weren’t for the company’s great taste, hard work and well-earned relationships, the careers of Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Godard, Rohmer, Ozu and many others would almost certainly have been less appreciated in North America, and would have carried less impact in the shaping of our cultural and intellectual identity.
Less understood is the effect that New Yorker Films had, as a pioneering independent film company, on the the culture of the film business. Their idealistic, aesthetically-based, and quite moral ways of responding to the very challenging, competing pulls of art and commerce have shown the way to many others who aspire to follow their example. Today, this business is more honorable, more human, and richer because of New Yorker Films.
Simply put, I am happy to be a part of the independent film community mostly because of the significant and defining influence that New Yorker Films has had on it. The company will be sorely missed and, for the sake of the future health of this community, I hope their legacy will be respected and honored. I hope that the qualities that kept New Yorker a critical and vibrant distributor for 43 years will live on in all of us, and help lure the next generation of smart, young cineastes to take the plunge, heart-first, into the film industry.
John Vanco is the General Manager of IFC Center in New York CIty.