Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 6pm
Ed Pincus's Diaries (1971-76)

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Diaries (1971-76)
Ed Pincus, HD restoration of 16mm film, 1980, 200 mins
Introduced by Nicolas Rapold

Shot over the course of five years yet purposely not completed till 1980, Ed Pincus’s Diaries (1971-1976) is an engrossing landmark in what’s often called personal or autobiographical documentary. Fully autonomous thanks to a 16mm camera and pocket Nagra, the Cambridge filmmaker and MIT Film Section pillar chronicled family, friends, lovers, himself, and endless palaver about all of the above, turning verité away from great history and celebrity tag-alongs and towards self-driven personal history integrated with natural political reflection.

Preceded by varied diaristic impulses in the avant-garde, David Holzman’s Diary, and the home-movie tradition, and paralleled by the domestic marathons of TV’s An American Family and A Married Couple, Diaries partly arose out of the philosophy-besotted Pincus’s faith that a journal-like subjectivity could be fashioned out of sound and image. An expert feat of scene selection and smooth compression (even at 200 minutes), steeped in its post-Sixties and Cambridge context, the chronological film casually and often humorously captures the constant psychological negotiations of the Pincuses’ open marriage, his pseudo- and genuinely enlightened guy talk with a range of friends, carefree observation of son and daughter (his open-text foils), and incidental travels across country and up to Vermont (where Pincus now resides).

All this, plus the fascinating, reflexively ironic irruption of “newsworthy” material through an unnerving visit by an ex-associate, apparently schizophrenic and ultimately murderous. Pincus wouldn’t return to filmmaking till 2005’s Axe in the Attic (heading south, as he had with his self-taught debut, 1967’s Black Natchez), but despite this lacuna, this author of the once-best-selling manual Guide to Filmmaking could still present the influential Diaries as the book’s cinematic equivalent. - NR

Nicolas Rapold is senior editor at Film Comment and has written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, Artforum, and Sight & Sound. He co-programs the Overdue series at the 92YTribeca and has also programmed work at the Museum of the Moving Image and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 5:30pm.

Still courtesy of Ed Pincus. Special thanks to Harvard Film Archive.