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Guest Post: Kit Carson "On David Holzman"

by Ted Hope
June 7, 2011 3:00 AM
3 Comments
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I moved to NYC almost three decades ago, but the coolest and most forward thinking movie then had gotten here almost a decade earlier. DAVID HOLZMAN'S DIARY is often described as America's answer to Godard -- and they are talking his early films when they say that. It's such a fun, smart, provocative film that we needed to wait forty years for history to catch up to it.

Not only do we now have a chance to catch up to it, the technology and it's various partners have provided us with many ways to appreciate it, but for me it is a special joy to have it's hero lift it's curtain, and tell us a bit how it was all done. The multi-faceted L.M. Kit Carson guest blogs today demonstrating that the greatest work often comes from refusing to ask permission and finding a way to make by any means necessary.

David Holzman Was So Far Ahead Of The Parade You Might Have Missed He Was Leading It

Here’s the funny thing – David Holzman (mockdoc mockfilmmaker) won’t quit. Put it this way – end of May on Memorial Weekend I got invited to the Harrisburg Indie-Fest in Penn for screening me and Jim McBride’s first movie: David Holzman’s Diary – and the truly sudden surprise is… now it really plays like a YouTube movie. Say more: the Fest-goers reacted like, well, like it's a Not-Exactly-1968-Movie, no – but like David was just last week on their computer-screens.

After the screening, later walking around Fest-goers – they acted really familiarly – like they did know me (David?) – nodded; grinned; film-loving femmes silently mouthed: "Hi Guy"... uh... A local FilmProf clues me into this social-action: "David Holzman is the original YouTuber. Watching him now, you’re hit by the beginnings of everyman Net-Cinema.” uh-2...

OK. Got it: like it’s a flashback-and-flashforward-at-the-same-time-movie.

OK, fact is – 1967: Me and Jim McBride were writing the first-ever book about cinema-verite – it was an interview/theory book for New York City’s Museum of Modern Art; we were calling it: THE TRUTH ON FILM. We were interviewing the roster of new-documentary filmmakers from Robert Drew to Leacock and Pennebaker to the Maysles Brothers – including interviewing Andy Warhol for his pop-verite. Halfway through the book-writing, McBride says to me: “There is no Truth on Film. Basically as soon as you turn the camera on – everything changes – to not real – gets like unreal.” So we decide it’s more quote/unquote “un-truth-ful” to write this book – we decide not to write this book.

We take the $2,500.00 book-advance – and over the 10-day Easter Break from college – we make a cinema-verite mock-documentary – we figure it’s the strongest way to question cinema-verite: David Holzman’s Diary.

The Museum of Modern Art was not happy that we did not make the contracted book – until David Holzman’s Diary won the Mannheim, Brussels, and Locarno Film Festivals. Then the Museum arranged for a high-profile Special Screening of the mock-doc – the beginning of a film-series called CINEPROBE – and then added it to the Film Collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

OK, curious fact is – 1991: David Holzman’s Diary is selected to join 250 other films as “American Cinema Treasures” in the U.S. Library of Congress Film Collection. In this collection: Citizen Kane; Gone With The Wind – and the 10-day $2,500.00 mock-doc David Holzman’s Diary. It was noted as quote/unquote “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” – uh-3…

OK, latest fact is – Summer 2011: NYC’s MoMA sets up a 5-day Special Screening Event in collaboration with distributor KinoLorber’s re-launching a new digitalized + print of this movie on multi-platforms: David Holzman’s Diary June 15-20… check this MoMA link: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/films/118

Other funny thing – keep getting un-asked-for Press every time I chat to a journo-friend... …current item in British pop/philosophy-critical-mag The Fortnightly Review... checkit...

…or this in D magazine (Dallas version of NEW YORK)... checkit...


David Holzman won't quit...

BritCrit friend Denis Boyles notes: “I hope David never quits.” OK. Go with that.

-- Kit Carson


Robert PeFilmmaker/Journalist L.M. Kit Carson recently jump-started back to his documentary roots – using Nokia N93 & N95 cellphonecams journeying across Africa to record a digital diary docu-series for the Sundance Channel: AFRICA DIARY. This work combines truth and heart in newsworthy reports set to air on the Sundance Channel’s 3 screens – cable-TV; computer; and cellphones – launching in Fall 2011.

David Holzman's Diary premieres on Fandor.com on June 15th. Don't miss it.


3 Comments

  • wanda bershen | June 9, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    Not only was DIARY a pioneering film, there were quite a number of other people making "indie" films at the time. Check out ICE (Robert Kramer, 1969), LIVES of PERFORMERS,(Y Rainier, 1972), WINTERSOLDIER (1969), CHELSEA GIRLS (Warhol 1966) BRANDY in the WILDERNESS (Stanton Kaye, 1969), and that is only the beginning. American Indies was a 50s-60s-70s phenonmenon -- too little known and screened today.

  • Cotty Chubb | June 7, 2011 9:23 AMReply

    One of the things I love about Kit is that he sounds, more or less, the same today as he did back in 1967 in this movie -- the same intonations in his voice, the little hints of Texas, the same restless questing but never too aggressive about it, the same sense that something wonderful is possible if we just look and do.

    So glad the film's being restored. It made a big impact when I saw it in 1968 at the San Francisco Film Festival and I don't doubt that, just as Kit's voice has aged but not changed its essence, the movie will have its power intact all these years later.

  • Mark Stolaroff | June 7, 2011 7:47 AMReply

    Ah, yes, "David Holzman's Diary"--the original moc-doc and the original no-budget feature, years before Sayles or Jarmush. I was involved with a feature that was also a few years before its time: "Some Body," the original Mumblecore film. We gave the $3,000 feature finishing funds at Peter Broderick's Next Wave Films and it premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. It was the first feature to be digitally shot and projected at Sundance. It has all the hallmarks of the Mumblecore genre--completely improvised, no crew, light on plot, scrappy look, concerned with character details, etc. The film was a triumph of naturalism and received some terrific reviews and was picked up for distribution by Lot 47 Films, which was a hot indie distributor at the time. But things went south for Lot 47 shortly after the film was released and all the principals left the company and their films were just put on the shelf. "Some Body" has never been released on DVD and isn't on Netflix. If you didn't see it at Sundance, on the big screen during its release, or on IFC the few times it screened there, you missed it. A real shame, because it's really a wonderful little movie. And a harbinger of things to come.

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