What interested me in film was the image-making aspect of it. So, I went to school in cinematography. I was really convinced that image was what I wanted to do, and I think it came from the fact that I lived in a small town my whole life, but my mother was very interested in painting, so she would bring us to Paris for two weeks. So, we’re going to the Louvre and to the museums and to see shows. In the evening we were seeing theater. Painting is basically what led me. I think the image was key.
We had been affected by the fact that the film world was a man’s world in Europe as much as here, in America actually.
The experimental film scene was very much misogynistic as well. I don’t know if you have read what little attention was given to the films of Joyce Wieland, who was the wife of Michael Snow. Michael was the “genius” and she was not. If you look at the films they’re wonderful, but very different. Michael was very proud of the films too, so it was not coming from him. It was coming from the general environment. I think both Chantal Akerman and I shared that. We wanted to find a language, which was the language of women.
It makes no sense to bad mouth people, but I think Jean-Luc Godard is astonishing as a survivalist, somebody who can do a film that is as extraordinary as Goodbye to Language.
1968 in Paris renewed my options. There was suddenly a desire of inventing new things, and I while I was working as an editor, the assistant editor thought I had a gift, and when he shot his own film, he hired me as his assistant camera, and I trained myself to do the light for him.
In the ’60s when I started to see everything I could see, you could see pretty much everything which was still available from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, and therefore I had an education which was really large and vast in different cinema. That’s probably the reason I did not fall for the New Wave. It’s really the love of the movies that made me want to become a cameraperson, definitely. I was really a film buff.
I’m really interested in experimental works, so the people that I admired the most was Dziga Vertov, Sergey Eisenstein, people from the ’20s. Also, I loved John Ford and his westerns. The New Wave was not tender to women.
I met Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage the second day after I arrived, you know. I had never seen or heard of Brakhage. For me, it was a revolution, because I was well educated in film, but American-style experimental film was known to me in the abstract, and I had seen practically nothing. I had seen a film then that Noël Burch had found and was distributing called Echoes of Silence. It was a beautiful film, three hours long. It goes forever and it was in black and white, very grainy, and I saw that film and I thought…it was not New Wave. It was really a new concept of cinema.
I felt it was really important to come here to see what was happening in New York. So, I came to see film and accidentally I stumbled upon theater, so I discovered Andre Gregory, Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, and theater became my first anchor.
When the cinematography school told me I would have no chance to get a job, I said, “It’s irrelevant.” My mom was a feminist in the ’20s. She taught me to be on my own, to be independent, to do what I wanted to do. I did not believe it would be difficult. It was difficult. In ’66, I almost starved for a year and a half, and the only way I did not starve was because I could not find a job in camera, but I found a job in editing.
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