Artist Public Domain’s Cinema Conservancy, a New York-based non-profit production and distribution company is thrilled to announce the upcoming release of ‘Stations of the Elevated’ (1981), a 45-minute independent documentary directed, produced and edited by Manfred Kirchheimer, in a new restoration. Shot over the course of 1977 on lush 16mm color reversal stock, the film weaves together vivid images of elevated subway trains crisscrossing New York City’s gritty urban landscape. With a complex soundtrack that combines the ambient sounds of the city with the music of Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin, the film is an impressionistic portrait of and tribute to a New York that has long since disappeared.
On Friday, June 27 BAMcinemaFest will present the world premiere of APD/Cinema Conservancy’s new restoration of Stations of the Elevated on the Steinberg Screen at the BAM Harvey Theater. The event begins with a live performance by legendary jazz ensemble the Mingus Dynasty, the original Charles Mingus legacy band. The first band Sue Mingus organized after Charles’ death in 1979, this acclaimed orchestra continues to interpret Charles Mingus’ more than 300 compositions, and will perform as a prelude to Kirchheimer’s jazz-inflected documentary.
The newly restored version of the film will be released in theaters this fall accompanied by other works by Manfred Kirchheimer. The restoration process includes both re-mastered image and sound.
Find Tickets to ‘Stations of the Elevated’ at the 2014 BAMCinemafest – HERE
The first-ever documentation of graffiti on film, Stations of the Elevated captures the height of the 1970s graffiti movement in New York, featuring the work of early legends including Lee, Fab 5 Freddy, Shadow, Daze, Kase, Butch, Blade, Slave, 12 T2B, Ree, and Pusher. In a period when the graffiti covering New York’s subway system was largely dismissed as vandalism, with mayor Ed Koch threatening “if I had my way I wouldn’t use dogs, but wolves [to keep writers out of the train yards],” Kirchheimer explored graffiti as a form of self-expression and a reaction to New York’s social and economic conditions, an artistic counterpoint to the “legalized vandalism” dominating the city’s visual landscape in the form of corporate advertising. Juxtaposing the colorful imagery of ‘tagged’ cars with shots of carefully hand-painted billboards depicting hamburgers and bikini-clad women, Stations of the Elevated forces audiences to ask: “What is urban art, and what role does it play in the daily life of a city?”
The film premiered at the 1981 New York Film Festival, but lacking appropriate music licenses, Stations of the Elevated was never theatrically released in the United States. In the 30 years since its completion it has been rarely screened, developing a cult amongst cinephiles and jazz- and graffiti-lovers. After two years of working to secure appropriate licenses for its soundtrack, APD’s Cinema Conservancy program will finally make this crucial cultural document and cinematic experience available to the public in 2014 with a theatrical run.