"This bold, enthusiastic documentary details the unsung yet important role played by its subject in the 1960s artistic counterculture."
Read full review by Nick Schager
"If the arts in America ever produced an equivalent to the revolutionary French poet Arthur Rimbaud, it might have been the little-known but extremely influential filmmaker Barbara Rubin. The title of her magnum opus, the 1964 picture “Christmas on Earth,” comes from a passage in Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell,” and the groundbreaking extremity of her work — and the actual trajectory of her life — can’t help but evoke the 19th-century poet. The comparison is made several times in “Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground,” an informative and overdue documentary directed by Chuck Smith."
Barbara Rubin, Shameless Angel of Avant-Garde Cinema
"In earlier centuries and perhaps even this one, Rubin might have been understood to be a woman possessed. An agitator and a mystic whose friends and associates included Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and Allen Ginsberg, Rubin made scenes the way other people made movies—although she did make those as well. Notably, there was her sensational, genitally confrontational Christmas on Earth (1963–1965), shot while she was still in her teens. This bleached black-and-white, trippy tangle of naked bodies, with men posing like Greek statues, women painted to suggest paleolithic fertility goddesses, and anonymous fingers probing bodily orifices in mega close-up, was mind-boggling then. It remains so today."
Made when she was just 18 years old, Barbara Rubin’s art-porn masterpiece Christmas On Earth (1963-65) shocked NYC’s experimental film scene and inspired NYC’s thriving underground. For the next four years her filmmaking and irrepressible energy helped shatter artistic and sexist boundaries. A mythical “Zelig” of the sixties, she introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. But beyond shaping the spirit of the sixties, Barbara was seeking the deeper meaning of life. After retiring to a farm with Allen Ginsberg, she shocked everyone by converting to Hasidic Judaism, marrying and moving to France to live an anonymous life. Tragically, she died in 1980 after giving birth to her fifth child. For years, Jonas Mekas treasured all of Barbara’s letters and films and cherished her memory. Working with Mekas’ footage, the film takes us inside the world and mind of Barbara Rubin; a woman who truly believed that film could change the world.