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Canyon Cinema

The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor

Scott MacDonald

Publication Year: 2008

Bringing alive a remarkable moment in American cultural history, Scott MacDonald tells the colorful story of how a small, backyard organization in the San Francisco Bay Area emerged in the 1960s and evolved to become a major force in the development of independent cinema. Drawing from extensive conversations with men and women crucial to Canyon Cinema, from its newsletter Canyon Cinemanews, and from other key sources, MacDonald offers a lively chronicle of the life and times of this influential, idiosyncratic film exhibition and distribution collective. His book features many primary documents that are as engaging and relevant now as they were when originally published, including essays, poetry, experimental writing, and drawings.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-xiv

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pp. 1-36

...By the 1920s, once the commercial narrative feature had established its economic preeminence, the pervasive experimentation that had characterized the first two decades of film history tended to be redirected, roughly speaking, along two different avenues. Many of those who had explored the possibilities of cinematic form and style in the wake of the early experiments of the Edison Studio, the Lumière brothers, and Georges...

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1. Formation

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pp. 37-62

...Ernest Callenbach, Alexandra Ossipoff, and Chick Strand in Berkeley, and Evelyn Bowers in Chicago—explained that their mission was to make available the “large amount of fugitive information about movies” not in general circulation. The announcement asks for items from filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, teachers, anyone interested in the “serious” making, showing, and discussion of films, especially focusing on new...

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2. Incorporation

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pp. 63-164

...Canyon formally incorporated on February 20, 1967. The organization’s purposes are made clear in the articles of incorporation: “(a) The specific and primary purposes are to establish and operate for educational purposes an organization which will conduct classes and workshops in the preparation and production of high quality non-commercial cinematic works of art, and which will promote the making of high quality cinematic works of art...

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3. Revitalization

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pp. 165-240

...During the years when Diane Kitchen was at the helm of Canyon Cinema (she arrived in 1974, left in 1977), the nature of the organization changed in a variety of ways. Kitchen made efforts to remedy what seemed to be the deterioration of Canyon’s distribution business. The long-discussed separation of distribution from the nonprofit sectors of Canyon took place (with some serious misgivings on the part of some members, including Bruce Conner): the...

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4. Intellectualization

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pp. 241-398

...By the mid-1970s, Canyon Cinema’s rental income leveled off, not at a particularly high level, but high enough to allow those working for Canyon and using Canyon to feel that the small business would continue to function and that those running the organization were doing a reasonably good job at providing a much needed service. Of course, now that the San Francisco...

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5 : Maintenance

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pp. 399-430

...Between 1980 and 1990, Canyon’s income from its distribution efforts roughly doubled. In 1980–1981, Canyon’s total income was $28,841; in 1990–1991, it was $76,255; and this expansion of the business continued for another decade: in 2002–2003, income reached its all-time high of $179,184. A number of factors seem to have contributed to this gradual but consistent rise in fortunes...

Appendix 1: Canyon Cinema Employees, 1969 to the Present

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pp. 431-432

Appendix 2: Canyon Cinema’s Gross Rentals and Sales, from 1966 until 2006–2007

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pp. 433-434

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Acknowledgments of Permissions

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pp. 435-438

...I am grateful to the following individuals and organizations for permission to use the documents and images reproduced in this volume. The listing is alphabetical by the last name of the permission grantor; when a single grantor has given multiple permissions, they are arranged in the order in which the relevant documents...


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pp. 439-461

Production Notes

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pp. 462-463

E-ISBN-13: 9780520940611
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520250871

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2008