Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (image 1)

Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession 2004

Directed by Xan Cassavetes

An evocative chronicle of the rise and fall of the TV programmer whose cable channel pumped a diet of art, cult, unreleased and otherwise under-the-radar movies into the Los Angeles area from 1974 to 1989 and influenced a generation of filmmakers.

USA In English
121 minutes 35mm

Director

Photography

Xan Cassavetes
,
John Pirozzi

Editor

Iain Kennedy

Music

Steven Hufsteter

With

Robert Altman
,
F.X. Feeney
,
Henry Jaglom
,
Jim Jarmusch
,
Alexander Payne
,
Alan Rudolph
,
Theresa Russell
,
Quentin Tarantino
,
James Woods

Festivals

Cannes (Out of Competition), Edinburgh, Toronto 2004; Rotterdam 2005

Elsewhere

This doc is an absolute must-see for lovers of cinema. An evocative chronicle of the rise and fall of pioneering cable TV programmer Jerry Harvey, whose Z Channel pumped a diet of art, cult, unreleased and otherwise under-the-radar movies into the Los Angeles area from 1974 to 1989. This was an era before VHS or DVD, and the brilliantly programmed channel became Mecca for movie nuts, with Harvey as cinematic saviour. Films that had been mangled by the studios (1900, Once Upon a Time in America) suddenly had an outlet to be shown as originally intended: Z Channel championed the term ‘director’s cut’ like no other. The unknown and unloved in world cinema were also given the star treatment, with little known actors/directors given month-long retrospectives. Harvey’s programming inspired many influential filmmakers (Altman, Tarantino, Jarmusch all testify here) and thousands of others. Harvey was also living out his own grim film noir, complete with guns, broads, booze and suicide and director Xan Cassavetes’ admiring portrait does not shrink from portraying his dark side.