From Stan Brakhage Remembrances:

Dominic Angerame (Executive Director, Canyon Cinema), April 2003

Printed in MFJ No. 41 (Fall 2003) Lesbian and Gay Experimental Cinema/Stan Brakhage Remembrances

I first encountered the films of Stan Brakhage in the late ‘60s. I was a student studying American history at the State University of New York at Buffalo—before Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, and other experimental filmmakers began teaching there. I had been making 8mm films since high school and was developing an interest in the new American avant-garde. I saw Brakhage’s Window Water Baby Moving at the Student Union film series and became a witness to the birth of a new way of seeing the world through motion picture film. I began to realize that I, too, could break down my own concepts of what cinema can and should be.

When I moved to Chicago, I started attending classes at the Chicago Art Institute, where, by happenstance, Brakhage was teaching film history. At the Institute, I became more involved in the work he was creating. Not only did I meet many great experimental filmmakers, but also I could talk to Brakhage personally. The first thing that struck me was his insistence that filmmakers be treated with dignity, respect, and be afforded the means to make a living from their pursuit of the arts.

His strength of character, steadfastness in principles, and the concept that filmmakers be treated with fairness has been a standard that has guided me through these many years of operating Canyon Cinema, a distributor of experimental and independent film. Since Brakhage’s death last March, Canyon Cinema, which distributes more than 300 of his films, has been flooded with requests from around the world for his work.

Brakhage always loved his family, which included the family of filmmakers. Not only was he a mentor to many of us, but he was also a good friend, and phenomenal filmmaker, and above all, a person who we could all look to for honest advice and guidance. He was always willing to talk honestly and openly about techniques, aesthetics, philosophy, and any other aspect of the filmmaking process. I have been honored to have been a friend of Stan’s for all these years, I will miss his encouraging words, his filmmaking advice, and his passion for filmmaking of all kinds. Stan Brakhage’s death is a loss to those of us involved in experimental filmmaking. As one of the world’s most eminent, influential, and creative filmmakers, his presence is surely missed, and his spirit lives on in his films.