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Longtime Film Forum Director Karen Cooper Invited to Select Films at MoMA
'Paris Is Burning', 1990, USA. Directed by Jennie Livingston. With Pepper Lebeija, Willi Ninja, Octavia Saint Laurent, Venus Xtravaganza. Courtesy: Miramax Films.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art presents an exhibition of 33 nonfiction films chosen by Karen Cooper, Director of Film Forum, to celebrate that institution’s 40th anniversary and the crucial role Cooper has played in keeping it a vital part of New York’s film culture. All films in the series, which runs from February 3 to 20, 2010, premiered at Film Forum. Karen Cooper Carte Blanche: 40 Years of Documentary Premieres at Film Forum is organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

Cooper became the Director of Film Forum in 1972, two years after its founding as an alternative space for independent cinema on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For the past 20 years, Film Forum has inhabited a three-screen movie house in the West Village, where it continues to present an array of international films that confront diverse social, political, historical, and cultural topics. The wide variety of films in the exhibition gives a sense of the diversity and richness of Film Forum’s offerings through the years. For Carte Blanche, Cooper supplements several of the screenings with complementary short films, a staple of Film Forum’s cutting-edge programming.

Cooper states, “In selecting work for the program, I tried to span all four decades, but with a stronger focus on the 1970s and 1980s, rather than on more recent titles which might already be well-known to documentary connoisseurs. I've included films by major figures such as D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Agnès Varda, Werner Herzog and Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, as well as those by relatively unsung filmmakers who are, nevertheless, masterful artists. Most importantly, the selection comprises a variety of approaches to the documentary genre: cinéma vérité material, compilations of archival footage, essays and memoirs, and portraits of critical figures in our cultural life (Louis Kahn, Chet Baker, Frida Kahlo, Robert Crumb, et. al.). As a guilty pleasure, I've included three of my favorite short films, all made in the 1950s, but which were presented theatrically by Film Forum many decades later: Under The Brooklyn Bridge by Rudy Burckhardt, L'Opera Mouffe by Agnès Varda, and Colette by Yannick Bellon.”

Carte Blanche is a series for which MoMA invites key figures from the film community to organize exhibitions, drawing from the Museum’s film collection.

The Museum of Modern Art | Karen Cooper | Laurence Kardish |

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