Gary Adlestein Biography


Although not a name well known outside of the Berks Filmmakers Inc., Gary Adlestein has had an impact on many filmmakers with his experimental art expressed through his Avant-Garde Films. "I began making films in 1970. In 1975, along with Jerry Orr and Jerry Tartaglia, I co-founded Berks Filmmakers, Inc. which is still functioning today in Reading, Pennsylvania as a showcase for experimental film and video." (www.canyoncinema.com/A/Adlestein.html).

Adlesteinıs films often seem to capture a moment in his life, but not necessarily a significant one. He is able to capture a moment in time in great detail on film. Adlestein, a professor of English, began experiencing new films. This led him to become involved in the Cinema Club. The Cinema Club invited filmmakers Richard Preston, Tony Conrad, and Beverly Grant to teach intensive filmmaking workshops. It was during these workshops that Tartaglia and Adlestein (acting as faculty advisor to the Club) began their first serious experiments with film." (-Albert Kilchesty www.berksfilmmakers.org/berkhist.htm).

"During a casual conversation, Adlestein and the Orrs, together with Albright College student Costa Mantis, impulsively decided to make a feature-length film portrait of the city of Reading--a part serious, part ironic homage to the great city symphonies of Ruttmann, Vertov and Vigo. None of the filmmakers had ever attempted a project of this scope before; the production of this film was to be their "advanced" filmmaking workshop. The feature-length experimental documentary Reading 1974, Portrait of a City was a resounding success. It was broadcast many times on Public Television stations throughout Pennsylvania, and was shown in New York as part of the Museum of Modern Art's "What's Happening" series. MOMA's William Sloan cited Reading 1974 as "one of the most original and most interesting American feature-length films of 1975." (-Albert Kilchesty www.berksfilmmakers.org/berkhist.htm).

"Berks Filmmakers' general philosophic/aesthetic approach was announced in its first fundraising letter. "The Berks Filmmakers' Cooperative is envisioned as an organization which will attempt to make a very real contribution to the American Independent Cinema movement." (-Albert Kilchesty, www.berksfilmmakers.org/berkhist.htm).

" In 1990, I discovered the affordable image manipulation potential of consumer video, especially its mixing, wiping and colorizing technology (like optical printing in real time). Since then I have been making tapes (using Hi-8 and recently, digital tape) specifically designed for projection, thereby carrying over something of the scale and attention to surface detail and texture that characterized my films. "The most important aspect to Adlestein's approach to video is that it is irrefutably and defiantly filmic. ... It is sublimely tactile where most videos tend to be impersonally cool and hard. ..." (www.canyoncinema.com/A/Adlestein.html).

"In 1977 Jerry Tartaglia, who had been acting as program director since Berks' inception, moved to New York City where, shortly thereafter, he wrote the seminal essay "The Gay Sensibility in American Avant-Garde Film" for The Millennium Film Journal. In Tartaglia's absence programming duties were assumed by Gary Adlestein, and Jerry Orr took over as the group's administrative director, positions they still hold in 1995." (-Albert Kilchesty, www.berksfilmmakers.org/berkhist.htm). "To date, Berks Filmmakers has presented in-person screenings by approximately two hundred film and video makers. Many of these artists, attracted by the congenial atmosphere created by Adlestein, Orr, and various cohorts (Albert Kilchesty, Jon Stout, Jeanne Badman and Jamie Harrar, to name a few), have returned many times since their initial visits" (-Albert Kilchesty, www.berksfilmmakers.org/berkhist.htm).

--Jonathan Cohen, 2004.

Gary Adlestein