“Presenting Jane” at Harvard

An excerpt of a recent article by Matthew Browne on "Presenting Jane" at Harvard:

"A few years ago, Karin Roffman, author of the forthcoming The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life, did something simple that seemingly no one else had thought to do: call filmmaker Harrison Starr, who’d been hired to shoot the film. He poked around his house and found the reel, which had been sitting in his garage in the California heat for years, fermenting. When Roffman finally got her hands on it, it smelled like bananas and vinegar. In order to ensure its survival, she encouraged Starr to donate the reel to Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room (WPR) and the Harvard Film Archive, which jointly preserved it.

"On October 17, in conjunction with the Woodberry Poetry Room, Roffman held a public screening of Presenting Jane for the first time at Harvard, where some major players of the New York School first forged their friendships. A small crowd of poetry devotees gathered in a room in the Barker Center, and I cozied myself onto a couch. The lights shut off, the film flicked on, and it was over almost as fast as it began: only 11 minutes in all, 7 of which were outtakes. Stripped of its original audio, and thus bereft of Schuyler’s script, the plot was essentially indiscernible. The biggest treat of the film itself, outside any biographical interest, was the beautiful shot of young Jane, ethereally draped in white, walking on planks submerged by Starr just beneath the water’s surface."