Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The MIX Festival 1987-2001

It's strange to find out that your work has been in a awesome festival and you find out totally by accident one day...years later.
My film , transfered to VHS, "La FRUTA" was programed and shown. I have a feeling I know who was responsible; thank you Raul!
Creator: The Mix Festival
Title: The Mix Collection
Dates: 1987-2001
Abstract: The Mix Collection contains the paper and media files for the Mix: New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film and Video Festival. Started in 1987 by filmmaker Jim Hubbard and novelist Sarah Schulman, Mix is the longest-running experimental film festival and the largest queer film festival in the United States. The Festival has been instrumental in both launching the careers of filmmakers such as Todd Haynes and Sadie Benning and in providing an exhibition space for and preservation of the work of older filmmakers such as Barbara Hammer and James Broughton. Mix was also one of the first film festivals to embrace installations and online artwork to showcase the depth and breadth of queer digital media. The Festival has traditionally been held annually at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
Quantity: 175 linear ft. (41 boxes of paper files, 82 boxes of videocassettes)
Call Phrase: MSS 143
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Historical Note

The Mix Festival, originally known as the New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival, was created in 1987 by filmmaker Jim Hubbard and novelist Sarah Schulman. The purpose of the festival was to create an alternative to mainstream gay and lesbian film festivals and to highlight the important contributions that queer filmmakers have made to experimental and avant-garde film practices. The program of the initial festival, which was first held at the Millennium Film Workshop, included a number of both classic and new works by queer filmmakers, including Todd Haynes' very first film, Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud, showcases of films by Barbara Hammer, Roger Jacoby and James Broughton and Joel Singer, and a program containing "Gay Films of the 1890's," all of which demonstrated the various strains of queer representation in film history. The festival was curated by Hubbard and Schulman themselves. A small group of unpaid volunteers helped out during the festival. The following year, the festival was once again held at Millennium, with films by Chantal Akerman, Abigail Child, Tom Chomont, and a panel moderated by Barbara Hammer entitled "Does Radical Content Require Radical Form?".

The third festival was held in 1989 at the Anthology Film Archives, where it has more or less been held ever since. The focus of the 1989 festival was on representations of the AIDS crisis, including several works by experimental filmmakers who had succumbed to AIDS and many others who were fighting the virus themselves (as if to illustrate the tragedy the virus had wrought on the gay arts community, filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith died the night before the festival opened that year). The fourth festival included a special emphasis on films by and about black gay men, such as Marlon Riggs' Tongues Untied, Isaac Julien's Looking for Langston, and Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason. Jennie Livingston's documentary Paris Is Burning, about drag ball culture in Harlem, was the closing night feature at this festival, and would shortly go on to much wider critical acclaim. In 1991, like many arts organizations around New York, the festival suffered a severe cut in funding from the New York State Council of the Arts. Nevertheless, the festival continued to show films that posited themselves against mainstream representations of homosexuality and AIDS.

After the 1991 festival, Schulman left to spend more time writing. Hubbard, Marguerite Paris and Jerry Tartaglia curated the 1992 festival, recruiting a group of guest curators including Thomas Allen Harris, Cheryl Dunye, Daryl Chin and Tania Cypriano to program 5 of the shows. In 1993, Shari Frilot and Karim Ainouz became the festival directors. Shari continued to direct the festival through 1996. With the change in membership came a change in name - the New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival was now known as Mix. The festival also started to focus more on showing films by and reaching out to younger queer filmmakers of color. Additionally, the festival began to depend more on having guest curators create and exhibit programs. In 1993, Mix became the first lesbian and gay film festival to feature video installations with both the 1000 Dreams of Desire "queer co-ed porn extravaganza" at the Ann Street Bookstore, co-curated by Jim Lyons and Christine Vachon, and the Go!Go!Spot! cafe/installation showcase. 1993 also saw the launch of Mix Brasil, an international extension of Mix and the first lesbian and gay film festival in the history of Brazil. Mix 94 was a joint venture with the LOOKOUT Festival, held at both Anthology and the Downtown Community Television Center. Among the innovations that year was the Cyberqueer installation, which showcased the emergence of interactive multimedia and queer digital media.

1995 marked the beginning of the festival's partnership with Free Speech TV, which broadcast activist media on local cable and community access networks. Another highlight of Mix 95 was the 100 Years of Cinema/100 Years of Sodomy tribute program to the centenary of cinema. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Mix 96 expanded to 4 venues, NYU's Cantor Film Center, the Knitting Factory, and Harlem's Victoria 5 Theatre, where Victoria MIX, Harlem's first gay and lesbian film festival showcase, took place. 1997 saw the departure of Shari Frilot as Festival Director, with Rajendra Roy taking her place. This year also saw the development of Mix Mexico, Mexico's first ever gay and lesbian film festival, and a collaboration with the PlanetOut website to present the first ever online queer film festival.

Mix 98 witnessed an increased push toward corporate sponsorship and support from grant foundations. Anie S8 Stanley became Mix's Artistic Director, and the Festival that year showcased films that documented the vogue for reclaiming "antiquated" forms of film technology, such as hand-processed and super 8mm films. The theme of Mix 99 was "Get Lucky," with programming that "gambled" on promising new work by upcoming filmmakers. Memorizing Mix, a gay and lesbian film and video preservation project launched in collaboration with the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS and the Guggenheim Museum, and the HONCHO Blue Movie Midnight Series, were both prominent features of the festival this year. In 2000, the festival instituted screening and programming committees to review the abundance of film submissions. Among the special attractions this year were the ACCESS digital media series and the Innovations Features Series, which showcased full-length feature work by Mix alumni. In 2001, Hubbard, Frilot, and Roy each curated guest programs as part of the Memorizing Mix series, with each showing work that highlighted films from festivals past.

In recent years, Mix has continued its dedication to providing downtown New York with a venue for formally challenging gay and lesbian film and video. The 2002 festival included a showing of James Wentzy's AIDS activism tribute video Fight Back, Fight AIDS: Fifteen Years of ACT-UP on Video. In 2003, Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation had its world premiere at Mix and would eventually foist Caouette into the indie-film spotlight. While the Mix Festival has most often been held every November at the Anthology Film Archives, in 2006 the festival opened at Manhattan's 3LD Art and Technology Center. It is currently directed by Stephen Kent Jusick with co-directors Szu Burgess, Andre Hereford and Kate Huh.

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