Item #5881 We Protest Raids on Films ... Picket With Us

We Protest Raids on Films ... Picket With Us

New York: New York City League for Sexual Freedom, 1964. Mimeograph. 8 1⁄2 x 11 in. Good; embrittled, with chipping and loss at edges not obstructing text. Item #5881

An early piece of ephemera produced by the Sexual Freedom League, in protest of police repression and censorship of “indecent” noncommercial films, including Genet’s Un chant d’amour and Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures.

In March 1964, the NYPD shut down a screening of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures at Film-Maker’s Cinematheque and arrested Jonas Mekas, Ken Jacobs, Florence Karpf, and Jerry Sims for organizing the event. Mekas was again arrested less than two weeks later for screening Jean Genet’s Un chant d’amour. The arrests were the immediate catalyst for the picket promoted by this flyer.

The League for Sexual Freedom, later known as the Sexual Freedom League, was founded the year before this demonstration. An often contentious group, the Sexual Freedom League organized orgies across the country, participated in early gay rights demonstrations and protests with the Diggers, and published their own periodical.

The charges against Mekas and his fellow filmmakers were ultimately dismissed by the New York State Supreme Court after a trial in which Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsberg, and Shirley Clarke testified to the artistic merit of Flaming Creatures.

A document of Mekas’s bravery and determination to make transgressive cinema available, and an important record of alliance between the Sexual Freedom League and the underground film community.


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