Wheeler and Jim

By Wheeler Winston Dixon.

I’m very pleased to announce that after the preservation of Jim Krell’s originals by Anthology Film Archives about a year ago, Anthology has been kind enough to arrange for a screening of some of Krell’s key works on April 17, 2015. Krell’s films are such utterly original works that the chance to see them should simply not be overlooked, not least because they were created in 16mm format, and will be screened as films, something that is increasingly rare in the 21st century.

I will be present for the screening, and offer some brief remarks on Krell’s films, as someone who witnessed the creation of many of the films included in the program; the extremely rare still that accompanies this short article, taken by John Vasilik Jr. from the summer of 1974, was photographed on a break during the shooting of my film An Evening With Chris Jangaard: The Decline and Fall of 1960s Britain, which Jim photographed for me as a favor. I’m on the left in the photo (with a beard, no less!) and Jim is on the right.

Sadly, the prints of some of Krell’s earliest films, such as Paper Palsy and Shoreline of China, seem to have been lost in the some forty years since their last projection, but the titles listed below definitely do exist in print format, and will be screened for this retrospective. The originals for these early films, however, are happily all in Anthology’s collection of Krell’s originals; perhaps, someday, they will be found – it’s really a huge collection of materials – and printed up again.

But in the meantime, here are some of Krell’s most transcendent and audacious films, in a one time only chance to see them as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen, in film format, projected with Anthology’s customary skill and brilliance. If you live in Manhattan, you absolutely should not miss this screening – Krell’s films are absolutely riveting, and the chance to see them again is not to be missed. Indeed, this may be your one chance to see these films – films that remain a real accomplishment, and an integral part of experimental cinema in the 1970s.


“One of the most original and iconoclastic figures of the New American Cinema, Jim Krell created work that is simultaneously so important, and yet so unknown, that this first public screening of his films since 1982 by Anthology Film Archives constitutes a major event, closing a significant gap in experimental film history. Starting in the early 1970s, Krell created a series of mysterious and rigorous films that defy written description, visionary works that conjure up an entirely different vision of the physical universe.

During that time, I had the opportunity to watch him at work on several occasions. What always impressed me (or perhaps ‘astonished’ is a better word) concerning Krell’s shooting methods was the intrinsic speed and seemingly random technique he brought to his work, creating films with offhand precision that both challenged and engaged the viewer.

Now living in Italy, Krell has long since moved on to other pursuits, but during the white hot period in which he turned out one amazing film after another in a veritable torrent of work, Krell created a singular vision that is all the more impressive because each of his films is entirely different from any other of his works; he never does the same thing twice. So the chance to see, and save, his work, is something that isn’t to be taken lightly; if nothing else, Jim Krell is a genuine original, in every sense of the word.” – Wheeler Winston Dixon


“If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t there.” – Paul Kantner

“I can easily extend this to the 1970s and 1980s, so in many ways I am unable to be totally specific in my descriptions. I have not seen most of these films in over 30 years, so in my mind these are truly artifacts. When I was making and watching them I was definitely under many influences, social, psychological, emotional, and chemical.

My theory behind making these films was to grab a Bolex, and then go out and chronicle in the typical Bolex fashion, single-framing, short takes, and when I had a camera with a motor some longer takes. I would sit down at the editing table and start to compose without a finished product or linear storyline in mind.

The soundtrack I was using would often dictate the end of the film, the pace was a complete surprise, when it worked out that was all to the good. I had no forethought or plan of action other than putting stuff together that was all around me. Occasionally, I could insert – as in Fur (But Less Fun), a whole unedited 100-foot reel of the storm-drain sequence, probably the apex of my improvisational skills.

I pursued film as a way to push back against the wall of civilization. I saw everything as an illumination, but in the way of a conflagration. This idea was further pursued in a feature film (unfinished) conveniently called The Arsonist.

My filmmaking stint was also about being part of a community at Livingston College Rutgers where film was a serious endeavor. My friends Wheeler Winston Dixon and Jon Voorhees made distinctly different kinds of films from mine, but we egged each other on in a kinetic exchange that informed all of our work.

16 mm filmmaking during those years was easy, accessible, and cheap, and I have thousands of unedited feet in Super 8mm and regular 8mm as well – all of it now in Anthology’s collection of my originals.

Most of my finished work from that time is on ½ inch video and was in documentary mode, but I’m really glad that my 16mm and 8mm films have found a home at Anthology, where people in coming years can perhaps view them, and see something of what I saw back then.” – Jim Krell


Wolverine Kills T. V. (1975) 16mm, color, 5 min

Fur (But Less Fun) (1976) 16mm, color, 14.5 min

Four Rolls (Rarely Pre-Dated) (Tribute to Marcel Duchamp) (1976) 16mm, color, 28


Shame, Shame: Dallas Diary, 1964 (1977) 16mm, black and white, 27.25 min

Second Thoughts (1980) 16mm, black and white, 18 min


Anthology Film Archives is located at 32 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003; telephone (212) 505-5181.

13 thoughts on “Rare Screening of the Films of Jim Krell, Anthology Film Archives, April 17, 2015”

  1. Really looking forward to this – haven’t seen them in thirty years myself. I will always remember a midnight screening of SHORELINE OF CHINA with Jim, who had just gotten the print back from the lab, on a big screen at Rutgers University in a huge empty auditorium at blast level – it scared the hell out of me. I saw it once, and literally have never forgotten it. So I really hope those two early films can be found and reprinted. But this is a great start — and an evening to remember.

  2. Is this guy, Jim Krell, really still among the living? I can’t believe someone who blazed that brightly didn’t just blast off the planet in a puff of spontaneous combustion decades ago.
    If this isn’t just another example of modern medicine propping up some zombified corpse, then where in the world did Krell find the fuel to keep himself going? Show me where that gas station is, please.

  3. Hi Jon – it’s called genius. We both know that Jim’s work is one of a kind, and the news that he’s alive and well in Italy gives confirmation to the maxim that in the end, some people just land on their feet.

    In other news, Anthology informed me that the originals for SHORELINE OF CHINA and PAPER PALSY do indeed exist, and have been found, but reversal prints are a thing of the past – if you have reversal originals, as we all had with out films, you must now make a timed internegative and then a positive print from that, going an extra generation, as well as adding the “hard edge” of negative film stock.

    More alarming is the cost – both films together total less than 400 ft., but the cost to make just one print of each film would easily top $1,000. Plus sixty days lab turnaround, so it’s just impossible. Needless to say, just more proof that film is a totally fragile medium, and that once a print is gone, it’s totally irreplaceable.

    BUT — at least the originals exist, and so if someone wants to kick in the cash, new prints could be made. And the show should be killer, so all is well.

  4. I too am looking forward to seeing these. My recollection of those years is more visual and feelings so it should be: nostalgic? painful, exciting, reinvigorating?

    And Jon, as to your question…I’ve only met Jim once and also got the impression of bright burning flame….but love is the ‘gas station’ and knowing Jim’s wife since childhood…that’s the sustainable source. btw: do you have a sister named Jane?

  5. David — the prints were lost. Somewhere in 40 years of time, they vanished. Jim has no idea where they are, nor do I. Nor does anyone! It’s a drag, but there it is. Anthology fortunately has the originals to all of Krell’s films, but as I noted in my earlier post, the cost of printing them up is prohibitive, so we’ll have to go with what we’ve got. More proof, as if any were needed, that films need active preservation to survive.

  6. So, just to make it clear, the final line-up for the Jim Krell show will be:

    Wolverine Kills T. V. (1975) 16mm, color, 5 min
    Fur (But Less Fun) (1976) 16mm, color, 14.5 min
    Four Rolls (Rarely Pre-Dated) (Tribute to Duchamp) (1976) 16mm, color, 28 min
    Shame, Shame: Dallas Diary, 1964 (1977) 16mm, black and white, 27.25 min
    Second Thoughts (1980) 16mm, black and white, 18 min

    See you there!

  7. Hi Jon and Wheeler, Paola just wrote me to inform me of the screening. Thrilled that Jim is finally getting his big debut… I look forward to seeing this gems. Wish he could be present to ignite Anthology; read his poetry and blast us with his irreverent genius. I now teach media at LaGuardia Community College, possibly I can arrange a special screening of his work. Look forward to seeing you there.

  8. So..Wheeler you and I and Jim and Jon knew each other back in the early 70’s. I think you and I went to see Pink Flamingoes together at Livingston. Jon had a room in his house with just mattresses. It would be nice to see Jim’s films, even better to see him. I will try and make it.

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