Caroline Link, Lea Kurka, Sidede Onyulo in Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa), 2002, Courtesy: Zeitgeist Films.

Zeitgeist: A 20-Year Legacy of International Film and 'Tasteful Commerce'

Todd Haynes, Poison (1991), Courtesy: Zeitgeist Films.

Jacques Demy, Catherine Deneuve in Les Paraluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), 1964, Courtesy: Zeitgeist Films.

Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Tatiana Riabouchinska, Tamara Toumanova, Irina Baranova in Ballet Russes, 2005, Courtesy: Zeitgeist Films.


Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theatres
Zeitgeist: The Films of Our Time
June 26-July 23, 2008

Two decades of films celebrating New York-based distributor Zeitgeist Films with the 20-title exhibition Zeitgeist: The Films of Our Time offers a fascinating snapshot of independent American and international film from the past 20 years, Zeitgeist: The Films of Our Time is a selection of works by critical figures in the company’s history and catalog. These range from artists the distributors embraced at early stages of their film careers, including Bruce Weber, Todd Haynes, Deepa Mehta, François Ozon, Olivier Assayas, and Guy Maddin, to established masters like Agnes Varda, Yvonne Rainer, Derek Jarman, and Jacques Demy. This monthlong exhibition includes several introductions and post-screening Q&A sessions with some of the filmmakers, along with appearances by Zeitgeist cofounders Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo.

Many of the directors whose early work Zeitgeist championed will be present to introduce their films: Careful (1992), introduced June 26 by Guy Maddin, who will also introduce Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964) the same night; Let’s Get Lost (1988), introduced June 27 by Bruce Weber; Poison (1991), introduced June 27 by Todd Haynes; Privilege (1990), introduced June 28 by Yvonne Rainer; Calendar (1993), introduced July 12 by Atom Egoyan; and Ballets Russes (2005), introduced July 19 by co-directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine with dancer Freddie Franklin. The exhibition is organized by Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

In 1988, in a tiny office in New York, Russo and Gerstman launched Zeitgeist Films. The films and directors that they have consistently sought out and championed encompass the full spectrum of international cinematic innovation over the last 20 years, spanning many genres. Film lovers first, Russo and Gerstman dedicated themselves to the time-tested arthouse experience, with focused releases and a dedication to building audiences, reserving risk for their often audacious acquisition choices.

“The phrase ‘tenacity of tasteful commerce’ best describes the spirit of Zeitgeist Films,” says Mr. Roy. “For 20 years, Emily and Nancy have proven to be both die-hard businesswomen and uncompromising connoisseurs of excellent cinema. The artists they have championed are visionaries that MoMA takes pride in exhibiting in their honor.”

Detail of still from the Quay Brothers' Street of Crocodiles, 1986, Courtesy Zeitgeist Films.

Olivier Assayas, Jean-Pierre Leaud and Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep, 1997.