Jon Jost

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Born in Chicago on May 16, 1943, of a military family, Jon Jost grew up in Georgia, Kansas, Japan, Italy, Germany and Virginia. Expelled from college in 1962, he began making 16mm films in January, 1963. He is self-taught. He has made some 20 shorts and 14 feature length films, all of which he has conceived, written, photographed, directed and edited; most of these he also produced. Since 1996 he has worked primarily in Digital Video (DV), completing six full-length works and many shorts, as well as one large-scale installation in this medium as of 2003. In 1965 Jost was imprisoned by US Federal authorities for 2 years and 3 months for refusal to cooperate with the Selective Service system. On release, he quickly became engaged in political activities, helping to start the Chicago branch of what became Newsreel, the New Left film production and distribution group, as well as working for the draft resistance and the Chicago Mobilization. He also participated in establishing the Chicago Film Coop, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Canyon Coop in 1970. Jost made his first feature-length film in 1974, and has since devoted himself to the making of a wide-ranging series of films, largely focused on specifically American topics, in forms ranging from essays (Speaking Directly, Stagefright, and Uncommon Senses), to essay/fictions (Angel City) to avant-garde and "new narrative." His work has shown widely in museums, film archives, and festivals since 1975. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, presented a complete retrospective of Jost's work in January 1991. This show subsequently traveled to the J.F.Kennedy Center, Washington DC, the Harvard Film Archive, the UCLA Film Archive, The Film Arts Foundation of San Francisco, as well as to the Bergamo Film Meeting 1993, the Viennale festival 1993, the Bologna and Torino Film Archives in Italy (1995). Most recently his films were accorded full retrospectives at the Cinemateca Portuguese (1996) and the Filmoteca EspaÒol (1997). His films have been purchased for television broadcast and/or for cinema distribution in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Hungry, Russia, and Japan . Prints of his films are held in the archives of The Museum of Modern Art, NY; the British Film Institute, the Freunde der deutschen Kinemathek, The Royal Film Archive of Belgium, the Cinemateca Portuguese, the Filmoteca EspaÒol, the Bologna Archive, the National Film Library of Australia (Canberra), the Yamagata Festival of Japan, and the Istituto Luce, Rome. Jost has been recipient of numerous grants, including two Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst Berlin Fellowships (1979; 1985); an NEA UK-US Exchange Fellowship (1980); two NEA Media Production Grants (1985; 1989); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1989); a NYSCA Production Grant (1989) and other minor grants. His films have won numerous awards, including the Caligari Film Prize at the Berlin Festival 1991 for All the Vermeers in New York and Sure Fire. Vermeers received the Los Angeles Critics award for Best Independent Film 1992. In March 1991 Jost was honored, along with Producer Edward Pressman, with the IFP/West's first "John Casavettes Lifetime Achievement Award" for independent filmmaking. In March, 2000, he received the "Maverick Spirit Award," at the San Jose-based independent "Maverick" festival. Mr. Jost was invited by the DOCUMENTA X, 1997, arts exposition of Kassel Germany, to make a full-length work of his own choice with the support of Documenta and SONY, for presentation in June 1997; owing to the total failure of Documenta to provide the originally promised funding, Mr. Jost withdrew from participation just prior to June 1997 Exhibitions: The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, screened a complete retrospective of his work from January 18 to February 19, 1991. This program was completely repeated at the UCLA Film Archive, Los Angeles, (March-April), and partially repeated at the American Film Institute Film Theater at the J.F. Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, (February), the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco under the sponsorship of the Film Arts Foundation and San Francisco Film Society, (March-April), and the Harvard Film Archive, Boston, (April). In October, 1991, the Viennale, in Vienna, Austria, in the context of a broader festival, screened a complete retrospective of Jost's films. It was also screened in January-February 1992 at the Arsenal Kino, Berlin. In 1994 the Bergamo Film Meeting, Italy, organized a complete retrospective of all features and short films, and published a book and catalog on Mr. Jost and his work. A traveling retrospective was done in the Netherlands by the Filmtheater Desmet in fall 1994; and in December 1994 a complete retrospective was done at the Cinemateca in Bologna, Italy, and in Feb. 1995 it was repeated at the Film Museo Nazionale, in Torino. Full retrospectives were mounted in 1996 at the Cinemateca Portuguese and Filmoteca Espanol. In addition, in the period 1968 to 1990 Mr. Jost did literally hundreds of in-person screenings of his work at colleges and universities throughout the United States, as well as in the UK, and at various film and media venues in Germany, Russia, Italy, UK, and the US. He has also done numerous film and media workshops in London, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Siena, and Germany.