Very sad to relate that Cecile Starr passed away on December 9, 2014.
She was 93.
This news came to me from her grandson Ian Boyajian who has been
assisting her for several years in her film distribution business,
and who will continue to distribute the films she held rights to.
Cecile Starr met Hans Richter in 1965 and asked him if she could
distribute his early experimental films. His answer was "Nobody's
interested in these things! You want them? Take them!" This led to
her running Starr Films and distributing pioneering work by Richter
and Eggeling, Alexeieff and Parker, Len Lye, Robert Breer, Harry
Smith, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Bute, Berthold Bartosch and others,
and an occasional contemporary film she took an interest in such as
"Jude" by Drew Klaussner (1982).
Her 1976 book with Robert Russett on Experimental Animation, revised
in 1988, is an authoritative reference. She also wrote three other
books and made short film portraits of filmmakers such as "Richter on
Film" or "A Talk With Carmen D'Avino" (both 1972).
She taught graduate film studies at Columbia University 1955-1961.
Her former students include Peter Bogdonavich, Brian de Palma, George
She received a Preservation Award from Anthology Film Archives in
1992, and she introduced me at the 2002 award dinner when I received
We worked together when Re:Voir published its first VHS tapes in 1995
- one of them was Hans Richter's Early Works. She pushed for our
first DVD project too - Dada Cinema - and we talked a lot when I was
preparing my film "Free Radicals: A History of Expermental Film."
I visited her several times both in her New York and Vermont homes.
Cecile was always warm and welcoming, also very thorough and
organized in business with great business sense, and her long memory
of details about so many incredible artists was a treasure.
- Pip Chodorov
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