Kenneth Anger: 1927-May 11, 2023
It is hard to imagine an avant-garde filmmaker as being famous, but that much and more can be said of Kenneth Anger, who died at the age of 96 on May 11, 2023. Anger was at the vanguard of a group of young American filmmakers in the 1940s and 1950s (Curtis Harrington, James Broughton, Sidney Peterson, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Maire Menken, Gregory Markopoulos, Jonas Mekas, Joseph Cornell) who ushered in a generation of transgressive and aesthetically rapturous avant-garde, underground films that have influenced subsequent iterations of experimental filmmaking. Although Anger made short, challenging films his cinema upbringing included a love of Hollywood glitch and glamour, which led to his seminal Hollywood expose blend of gossip, speculation and gonzo journalism, Hollywood Babylon. Although Anger’s influence is largely found in like-minded experimental cinema, his disdain for artistic meritocracy (drawing lines between high art and trash art) has seen his influence go far beyond the esoteric to narrative filmmakers as well (from David Lynch, to Martin Scorsese to Damien Chazelle, whose latest Babylon feels at times like an unofficial adaptation of Hollywood Babylon).