STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED, a documentary about NYC graffiti and subway culture in 1981.  This silent doc, with music by Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin will premiere a restored version at BAMcinemaFest on June 27th



(An Artists Public Domain/Cinema Conservancy Release)

Produced, Directed, Photographed and Edited by: Manfred Kirchheimer


“Exquisite…Stations unspools for long, glorious stretches without dialogue, following the rails alongside its stars – colorfully tagged subway trains – as they glid through both urban terrain and lush countryside” – LA Weekly

“A cinematic tone poem of great beauty.  Brilliant…proof that you don’t need to make a speech to make a political statement o f cogence and incisiveness.” – WNYO, New York




STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED (1981) is a 45-minute city symphony directed, produced and edited by Manfred Kirchheimer.  Shot on lush 16mm color reversal stock, the film weaves together vivid images of graffiti-covered elevated subway trains crisscrossing the gritty urban landscape of 1970s New York, to a commentary-free soundtrack that combines ambient city noise with jazz and gospel by Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin.  Gliding through the South Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan – making a rural detour past a correctional facility upstate – STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED is an impressionistic portrait of and tribute to a New York that has long since disappeared.


STATIONS captures the exuberant height of the 1970’s graffiti movement in New York, featuring the work of early legends including Lee, Fabulous 5, Shadow, Daze, Kase, Butch, Blade, Slave, 12 T2B, Ree, and Pusher.  At a time when graffiti was largely dismissed as vandalism and a symbol of urban decay, Kirchheimer explores it as a form of self-expression and a reaction to New York’s social and economic conditions, an artistic counterpoint to the “legalized vandalism” dominating the city’s visual landscape in the form of corporate advertising.  Juxtaposing the colorful imagery of ‘tagged’ cars with shots of hand-painted billboards depicting hamburgers and bikini-clad women, STATIONS forces audiences to ask: “What is urban art, and what role does it play in the daily life of a city?”


*This event will feature live music by the Mingus Dynasty, the original ensemble formed by Sue Mingus after Charles’ death in 1979 to continue his legacy.  The Dynasty will perform a set of selections from the film score as a prelude to the screening.


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