This is an archived course.

Course Description

This course examines the cultural history of independent film production in New York City throughout the last fifty years. We will examine this rich history in the context of cultural and counter-cultural movements in New York City. We will screen films by filmmakers such as Andy Warhol, Shirley Clarke, Nick Zedd, Lizzie Borden, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, and Diego Echevarria. Students will also visit theatrical and non-theatrical screening venues for film and video throughout the city.


Juan Monroy



Course Materials


Required readings are available as Portable Document Format (PDF) files on ERes via Blackboard.


This course will use Blackboard. Please be sure to check it regularly for course announcements, assignment guidelines, required and optional readings, supplemental screenings, presentations from lectures, and your own personal grading and attendance records. You may also use Blackboard to submit assignments electronically.

To access Blackboard, point your browser to, and log in using your NYU Net ID and password. You will find our course under "Courses You Are Taking."

Office Hours

Please feel free to meet with me during office hours. I will also be available using Blackboard's Chat feature during those times.

Field Screenings

In addition to our regular class sessions, students will be required to make at least three visits to independent and non-theatrical screening venues throughout New York City and report on those visits.

Holiday and Make-Up Class

We will not meet on Tuesday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. We will have make-up class on Friday, July 7, from 12:30 to 4:30 PM, in our usual meeting venue.

Course Requirements

Regular attendance

Attendance at all class session is of vast importance, and thus there are no "excused" absences. Our sessions involve intensive group discussion of assigned readings and in-class screenings.

If you miss more than two class sessions, those absences will count against your final grade. Missing more than 30 minutes of class, either due to late arrival or early departure will count as one absence.

If you experience a medical, family, or financial catastrophe during the semester, immediately contact your academic advisor, Ventura Castro at Cinema Studies, and me so we can all work together in helping you complete your work through an exceptionally difficult time. Note: coursework for other classes, including film shoots or other crew production work, does not qualify as "exceptionally difficult" circumstances.


Complete each week's readings before our class session. The lectures will cover material that assumes you have completed that week's assigned readings. I invite you to re-read certain chapters or articles after the class to reinforce the lecture and screenings from our sessions.


All written work must be submitted on time. Late work will not be accepted, except for "exceptionally difficult" circumstances outlined above. You must also complete every assignment in order to receive a grade for this class.

In general, your writing must be clear, professional in tone, elaborate any point you make, prove all original assertions, and cite your source for any information that is not "common knowledge." Please print your paper and proofread it for grammar and typographic errors before submitting it. Excessive errors will result in a lower grade. Also, please do not submit assignments via email attachments (see Submitting Files Electronically below).

I police plagiarism vigilantly. Any student who hands in work not their own will receive a failing grade for the course.


Reports on Independent, Non-Theatrical Venue

Visit at least two independent, non-theatrical screening venues in the five boroughs of New York City. Qualifiying venues include art galleries screening video of film work, microcinemas, rooftop or garden screenings, and outdoor screenings not sponsored by the city or major corporations. You should consult my list of Summertime Microcinemas in NYC for some possible venues.

Write two 1,000-word reports on the screening and screening environment. Your report should focus on the experience. You should address the audience, the physical space, the screening ritual, and your experience in getting to the venue.

Your reports will become part of an online directory of microcinemas in New York City. To maximize our coverage of these screening venues, you should avoid replicating venues that your classmates will be reviewing.

Review on Film at Anthology Film Archives

Write a 1,000-word review of a film or video made after 2004 screened at Anthology Film Archives. Consider the political voice of the film and video. Your review should also include your impressions of the venue, much like you did in the first two reports.

Final Essay

Write a 1,800-word historically inflected review essay of an independent film or video and consider how it speaks to its historical moment. This film should not be one screened in class, although it must be in conversation with the artistic history of New York City. You should consult with me within the first two weeks of class to select an appropriate film.

Course Schedule

June 27 » Introduction. Pre-War Avant-Garde


June 29 » Andy Warhol


July 6 » Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith


July 7 » Shirley Clarke


July 11 » Kuchar Brothers

In-Class Screenings

July 13 » Beth B, Nick Zedd


July 18 » Richard Kern, Tessa Hughes-Freeland


July 20 » Lizzie Borden


July 25 » Jim Jarmusch


July 27 » Spike Lee


August 1 » Jon Jost


August 3 » Nuyoricans