Under the leadership of pioneer Barney Rosset, who purchased the Grove Press publishing house in 1951, the first United States publication of such controversial classics as D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover was printed. Rosset’s interest in foreign authors, and in work that challenged traditional political, sexual, and cultural mores, was matched by his commitment to visual art. The Press created a short-lived film production company in 1963 and further expanded its engagement with cinema when it moved into film distribution in 1967 by acquiring Amos Vogel’s Cinema 16 library and establishing the Grove Press Film Division. The Film Division’s inventory was developed—primarily with feature-length titles that reflected the Press’ interests—and grew to some four-hundred short and feature-length films. These included the notorious Swedish film by Vilgot Sjöman I Am Curious (Yellow) , Glauber Rocha’s Antonio das Mortes (1968), Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Man Who Lies (1969), Nico Papatakis’ Thanos and Despina (1968) and Nagisa Oshima’s Boy (1969). These titles were celebrated in the 1970 Grove Press International Film Festival, for which a trailer, animated by Carmen D'Avino, can be viewed below. After 1970 Grove Press scaled back its film distribution; the Film Division was dissolved and its film holdings disbanded in 1985, when the Press was sold.
About the Collection
In 1995 a portion of the film holdings were donated to the Harvard Film Archive. This collection comprises approximately 164 titles—35mm and 16mm projection prints, original elements and trailers—dating from the 1910s to the 1970s. The films are representative of Grove Press’ ambition to promote non-mainstream cinema that pushes both formal and topical boundaries. In addition to major and lesser seen works by significant figures in European art-house cinema, highlights include cinematic meditations on revolutionary currents in late 1960s Yugoslavia—in Zelimir Zilnik’s Student Demonstrations (1968)—and America in Jean-Luc Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group’s Vladimir and Rosa (1970); "classic” erotic cartoons and live-action films such as Dr. Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen’s 1969 Freedom to Love; 1970s newsreels produced by the People’s Republic of China and the China Trade Corporation; and critical cinema of the American avant-garde, including titles by Willard Maas, Anne Severson and James Broughton, as well as rare films by Madeline Tourtelot and Aldo Tambellini.
A list of cataloged titles in the collection can be found in the Harvard Library catalog. In addition to the film materials listed, a small paper collection (approximately 2 cubic feet) consisting mostly of letters of agreement and reproductions of magazine articles is available by advanced appointment only. Please note that Harvard Film Archive does not hold the copyright to Grove Press films and cannot assist with copyright research.
A collection of Grove Press Records is held by the Syracuse University Libraries. A detailed finding aid can be viewed here.
Streaming Digital Content
A small number of non-theatrical films from this collection have been digitized for research. Additional content will be added as it becomes available.