Long Live the People’s Film Department

I heard the sad news recently that John Pruitt recently passed away. He was a professor at Bard College, where I studied film back in the late 80’s / early 90’s. I have a lot of appreciation for him and also for his main two contemporaries in the department, who also have both died in the last decade. My classmate and friend Loey, who was closer to John than I was, wrote up this tribute to him and to the department.

From 1989-1993, I was part of a ragtag collective of aspiring artists who worked under the guidance of Adolfas Mekas, Peter Hutton, and John Pruitt. We were the People’s Film Department of Bard College, and they were our id, ego, and superego. Or, as my nerd friends and I called them, the Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

Peter was the cool, steady, down-to-earth guy. Adolfas was the no-filter, lovable grouch. John was the outwardly stuffy one who rarely showed much emotion. They’d all been there for years, running the program out of a crowded little basement in Preston Hall.

I knew and admired all three, but I was a film history major, so I worked primarily with John, who taught those classes and was also my faculty adviser. Adolfas died in 2011, Peter in 2016. John was our last link to the old crew.

And now, he’s gone, too, on June…

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