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Back to School, Day 1

Back to School, Day 1

Today was the first day of school, kicking off my service as an instructor at The New School. I am teaching a course entitled “The Art and Industry Of American Independent Cinema,” part of the University’s summer intensive program. We have about 25 students, ranging in ages and experience. The students spend the morning with me watching and talking about films, and then after lunch will learn about film production.

Today, after a morning breakast orientation and introductions, we watched the first 10 minutes of John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos” and then a surprise screening of a film from the 80s that I am not allowed to disclose (because it has since been banned)…

In between the screenings, we had a good discussion about the term ‘outsider’ — Is American independent film a “cinema of outsiders”? Was Waters an outsider and is he still? What makes a filmmaker an outsider?

Independent films, often made by outsiders, can shock and provoke. Taboo subjects, outrageous stories, unconventional cinematic techniques and unlikely stars populate American cinema outside of Hollywood.

During our discussion today we specifically talked about filmmakers John Waters and Todd Haynes, producer Christine Vachon and even referenced the Kuchar Brothers. We also had a bit of a discussion about the 1970s and Richard Nixon. Following are a few links to articles that we are reading as additional online resources for today’s session:

Gentlemen prefer Haynes (Film Comment)
“Pink Flamingos” Movie Review (The Advocate)
Mr. Bad Taste Goes Respectable (US News/World Report)

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