David Holzman's Diary

A short excerpt from Booklet essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum:

David Holzman’s Diary/My Girlfriend’s Wedding:
Historical Artifacts of the Past and Present
by Jonathan Rosenbaum

In my mind, there isn’t as much of a distinction between documentary
and fiction as there is between a good movie and a bad one.
Abbas Kiarostami

Artifact #1: A softcover book, The Film Director as Superstar, by Joseph Gelmis (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1970)—-a collection of 16 interviews in three parts, each of which has two subsections: `The Outsiders’ (`Beyond the Underground,’ `Their Own Money, Their Own Scene’), `The European Experience’ (`The Underemployed Independent,’ `The Socialist Film Schools’), and `Free Agents Within the System’ (`Transitional Directors,’ `Independents with Muscle’).

Offering a good sense of what was seen as edgy filmmaking 35 years ago, Gelmis singled out Arthur Penn, Richard Lester, Mike Nichols, and Stanley Kubrick as his muscular independents and Roger Corman and Francis Ford Coppola as his transitional figures. Milos Forman and Roman Polanski were his two graduates of the socialist film schools, Lindsay Anderson and Bernardo Bertolucci his two underemployed independents. The three with their own money were Norman Mailer, Andy Warhol, and John Cassavetes (the latter was seen on the book’s cover, camera in hand). And the three who were beyond the underground? Jim McBride, Brian DePalma, and Robert Downey. All three eventually wound up in Hollywood—-like virtually everyone else in Gelmis’s lineup, apart from Mailer and Warhol—-though it seems sadly emblematic that Downey is best known today for his actor son with the same name while McBride in probably best known for his 1983 U.S. remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless.

One reason for citing all these strange bedfellows now is to convey some sense of where McBride stood at the time, on the basis of the two legendary films, his first two, included on this DVD--neither of which has ever had a normal theatrical distribution anywhere, apart from limited releases of David Holzman’s Diary in Paris and (much later) New York. Yet in spite of this limited exposure, the interview with McBride is not only the first in Gelmis’s book, but one of the most substantial.

In a way, this shouldn’t be too surprising, because when we speak about the impact of influential works in art cinema, whether it’s Citizen Kane or the original Breathless, we’re speaking more about the quality of the response than about the quantity of respondents. However personal some of its origins might be, David Holzman’s Diary is in fact a great work of synthesis summarizing the very notions of the film director as subject (and therefore as superstar) and the camera as tool of self-scrutiny that the 60s film explosion inspired. And its ambiguities about the various crossovers between documentary and fiction remain as up to date as the films of Kiarostami.

Jonathan Rosenbaum’s complete essay, from which this short excerpt is taken, appears in the Booklet of the DVD release.

Disc Info

David Holzman's Diary Boxshot

USA 1967
Main Feature: 73 minutes
Special Features:
  My Girlfriend's Wedding - 61
  Interview - 22 minutes
Certificate: 15
Black & White 1.33:1
Sound: Original Mono, Restored
Language: English
PAL R0 RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 30th January 2006


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