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An Auteurist History of Film Will Draw from MoMA's Rich Collection to Focus on the Role of the Director
The Life of an American Fireman. 1903. Directed by Edwin S. Porter. James White pictured.


NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art launches An Auteurist History of Film, a two-year series of films drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection intended to serve as both an exploration of the richness of the Museum’s collection and as a basic introduction to the development of cinema as a predominant art form of the 20th century. Throughout the fall season, the series will explore the dawn of the cinematic art form. Beginning on September 9, screenings will be held on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, at 1:30 p.m., in The Celeste Bartos Theater in MoMA’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Building For Education and Research, 4 West 54 Street.

The auteurist approach to film, articulated by the critics who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s, and brought to America by film writer and critic Andrew Sarris, contends that, despite the collaborative nature of the medium, the director is the primary force behind the creation of a film. In the present context, this “theory” is intended as a useful tool, not to be applied too rigidly or in a doctrinaire manner. Rather than creating a single, formal museum canon, An Auteurist History of Film will provide filmgoers with a rare opportunity to follow the course of filmmaking from its origins to the present day by examining the role of the director.

The first three months of the series will explore pre-cinema; the earliest films seen in Europe and America, by the Edison Company and the Lumiére Brothers; pre-D.W. Griffith directors and the early efforts of Griffith at New York’s Biograph Studio; the innovations by Scandinavian filmmakers; and Griffith’s departure from Biograph.

An Auteurist History of Film is organized by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.





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