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An Interview with Jonathan Caouette

Jonathan Caouette and Laurence Hegarty

Jonathan Caouette suggested that we meet at a coffee shop opposite the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. For someone who is said to have invented a genre of cinema by trawling through his own twenty-year archive of home-movies, sound-tapes, and sundry snippets of memorabilia, it seemed like a good choice. From watching Tarnation one senses Caouette is as much a curator of collections as he is a film director. Tarnation tracks the developmental struggle of the young Caouette, especially as he tries to understand and orient himself to his mentally disturbed mother. Although the final cut does not necessarily represent the final word (there is a great deal more footage than was used in the release print) or a single voice, it does stand as an adult attempt to collate, and edit, the whole chaotic mess of his childhood experience.