The past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the James River Film Society’s upcoming Crispin Glover show. Not because of all the details, like picking him up from the airport (which we did this evening), getting him fed and settled in his room and talking over the details of tomorrow afternoon’s tech rehearsal and so on. That’s par for the course — part of the business of what we do. For the uninitiated, what we do is read, watch and think a lot about provocative films and filmmakers who march to their own drummers and then figure out ways to bring them and their films to Richmond. It’s a labor of love and not a single person associated with the James River Film Society, an all volunteer run nonprofit organization, gets paid a dime. We do this because we love it and because we have to. Oh, we think about giving it up — “it’s too much work,” “we lost our shirts on that one” or “no one cares” we say to our friends and loved ones. But those dark moments are fleeting and the siren call of the cinema beckons, seducing us back into service. But we love it. We eat it up. We live for it. All of it. The good, the bad, and the weird.
So, back to where I began before I digressed … in the days leading up to Mr. Glover’s visit, I was drawn to my bookshelf to locate a book that was given to me be a great friend and fellow film fanatic, Patti Doyen. She’s no longer in Richmond, but she left her mark on me and on our film culture. The book is Amos Vogel‘s Film as a Subversive Art, originally published in the U.S. by Random House in 1975, though I’m pretty sure I read there was a European version published in 1974. If you haven’t heard of Amos Vogel, you may have heard of Cinema 16, the New York City-based film society that Vogel and his wife, Marcia, ran from 1947 to 1963. It was arguably the most successful and influential membership film society in North America. Anyway, as I leafed through this book, which I have not read from cover to cover, only perused and meandered through, I decided to purchase a copy for Mr. Glover because it seemed to fit him and what he’s trying to do (after having nosed around his website, Todd Raviotta’s RVA Mag interview, and a few other things). When I received his copy in the mail, which was the 2005 reprint/facsimile version, I read both past James River Film Festival guest and film critic Scott MacDonald’s introductory essay and Amos Vogel’s preface to the new edition, since those were new to me (I have one of the 1975 Random House editions).
Three excerpts from Vogel’s preface to the new edition of Film as a Subversive Art are what I want you to take home and consider as you prepare for or consider whether or not to join us for An Evening with Crispin Hellion Glover.
Vogel’s words remind me of some of the reasons we do what we do at the James River Film Society and why we labor to bring filmmakers like Crispin Hellion Glover to Richmond.
I hope to see you there.
The James River Film Society and The Byrd Theatre present An Evening with Crispin Hellion Glover on Friday, December 3, at 9:30 p.m. at The Byrd Theatre. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance at Chop Suey Books (located across from The Byrd) or Video Fan or after 9 p.m. at The Byrd box office. For more information visit the James River Film Society.