New York’s Youth Film Distribution Center was founded in 1969 as a platform to exclusively showcase 16mm sound films by young filmmakers aged 14 to 20. The following is their 1971 catalogue, with a list of the most successful student films by that time, broken into five programs — Introducing Young Filmmakers, Prize Films, Opinions, A Look at Drugs, and Sixty Minutes with Young Filmmakers. The Whitney Museum screened a selection of these teen’s films from Oct 14-20, 1971. While many of the films have either been forgotten or lost, at least one has been digitized and is available to watch online at the Internet Archive — Potheads by Alfonso Sánchez, a short that “effectively captures the hallucinatory nature of marijuana smoking.”
At least a few other names here may be familiar — Peter Wallach went on to direct the original Transformers film.
“These films vary in cinematic style and cover the topics that interest young people. Films come from such workshops as FILM CLUB of Young Filmmakers Foundation, the Henry Street MOVIE CLUB, and the STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM.”
“Page Two by Andy Plesser, Age 17. The social-sexual frustrations of a suburban middle-class teen-ager are beautifully explored in a series of vignettes that are related to those people who surround him.”
“Yesterday by Paul Tepper, Age 17. This technically ingenious film poetically relates to the Beatles’ song. Images in the film parallel the lyrics of the song.”
“Soldier’s Revolt by Jayson Wechter, age 18. In this allegorical film dealing with the issues of race and war, two soldiers, one black and one white, are ordered to kill each other by their respective generals.”
“The Gluesniffer by Willie Torres, Age 16. A young boy takes to sniffing glue after an argument with his boss. He imagines that he is in the country climbing a tree and falls from a rooftop.”
“A Question of God by Michael Jacobsohn, Age 17. Religious questions are explored with the use of psychedelic effects. This film is a playful but critical probe into various conceptions of good and evil.”
“Male and Female by Miguel Sanchez, Age 18. An afternoon in the life of a Lower East Side Don Juan is traced by the camera. In a farcical manner, the filmmaker describes this particular life style.”
“The Radically Changed Mawkish Piddler by George Toro, Age 15. This extraordinary hand-painted and scratched film is a fine example of a filmmaking technique that does not employ a camera.”
“Big City Blues by Andy Lamy, Age 18. The filmmaker describes the intention of his film: ‘It is a fantasy about the mental and physical masturbation of an over-exposed, over-stimulated urban teen-ager.’ The film is an adolescent nightmare dealing with sexual frustration, alienation, and racial ambiguities.”
Thanks to Mary Potter for the tip!
All images via Picasa.