I was deeply saddened by the death of my dear colleague, William Moritz. The community of scholars and preservationists dedicated to the history of avant-garde and experimental cinema has lost one of its guiding lights.

I first met Bill over twenty years ago, when he and Elfriede Fischinger were on one of their many tours with Oskar Fischinger's films and I was a graduate student. Bill's pioneering work on Fischinger, which has come to glorious fruition in his new book, brought together two of my own career long research interests: German film exiles in America and avant-garde cinema. From that moment, Bill became a source of knowledge and information, both of which he gave freely.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, then, Bill not only contributed an essay to my book, LOVERS OF CINEMA. THE FIRST AMERICAN FILM AVANTGARDE, but also gave generously of his time and expertise, especially in my efforts to track down obscure Los Angeles experimentalists from the 1930s.

I'll never forget driving with Bill down to San Diego on one of my infrequent visits to Los Angeles. He had set up a meeting for me with the late LeRoy Robbins, who had contributed to the making of EVEN AS YOU AND I (1937), an early American piece of surrealist film. Robbins, an octogenarian, former labor organizer, and gay activist was a delight. But even more wonderful was to see Bill and LeRoy interact. There was such a sweetness in the air.

Bill was so passionate about work, about life. I believe he has left some of that passion with all of us, to inspire us, to egg us on in the face of adversity.

Jan-Christopher Horak


Back to Moritz page