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Retired cinema professor returns for artist series

By : Erin Owens

After six years of retirement, one of the founders of Binghamton University’s Cinema Department will return this month to show some of his short films and videos.

Ken Jacobs, along with Larry Gottheim, organized the Department of Cinema at Binghamton in 1969, and is one of the founders of American avant-garde cinema. Jacobs, a distinguished professor of cinema, retired in 2003 after 33 years at Binghamton,

“He was very influential in shaping the Cinema Department,” said Vincent Grenier, undergrad director in cinema. “This is a very important event.”

Jacobs said his interest in filmmaking began when he was in high school in Brooklyn, during a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art. 

“The movies they showed us just stunned me,” he said. 

In the early 1970s, Jacobs coined the term paracinema, referring to cinema experiences provided by means outside of standard cinema technology. He is the director of Star Spangled to Death (2004), and his 1969 film, Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son, was admitted to the National Film Registry in 2007.

Grenier said Jacobs had a strong influence on him and his decision to continue his cinema career at Binghamton.

“I was very impressed by him,” he said. “He was what caused me to move to New York.”

Not only has Jacobs greatly influenced Grenier, but he has also had a significant impact on his many students over the years, Grenier said.

“The Cinema Department has had huge success in developing students,” Grenier said. “We can attribute this to Jacobs’ contribution to the department.”

The schedule is:

• On Tuesday, April 21, Jacobs will present excerpts from past performances of the Nervous Magic Lantern and other shorts, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

• On Wednesday, April 22, he will present five of his films and digital videos, including Binghamton My India and Krypton is Doomed, from 10:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

• On Wednesday, April 29, Jacobs’ Razzle Dazzle, The Lost World, will be shown at 8 p.m.

All events will take place in LH-6.

“I thought it would be good to show some early things that helped the beginning of the Cinema Department and also show what I’m doing today,” Jacobs said.

The film series is free and open to the public. 

“I hope people will get something from it: A good lesson in living a life you take responsibility for,” Jacobs said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08