August 6, 2021

Milton Moses Ginsberg, 85, Unconventional Filmmaker, Dies

Mr. Ginsberg’s disappointment at the response to his features was eased somewhat when the Museum of Modern Art screened “Coming Apart” in 1998. But he was still too pained by its reception nearly 30 years before to watch it; he did not enter the theater until it ended, when he spoke to the audience. MoMA has shown it a few times since.

“It was like nothing I’d ever seen,” Laurence Kardish, the former longtime senior curator of MoMA’s film department, who had seen “Coming Apart” during its original release, said by phone. “It was very explicit and very raw and struck me as an essential New York film, showing a New Yorker’s enthusiasm for self-examination.”

When “Coming Apart” was released on video in 2000, an article in The Chicago Tribune called it “stylistically audacious.” And in 2011, the Brooklyn Academy of Music screened both of Mr. Ginsberg’s films. After its associate curator, Jacob Perlin, moved to Metrograph, the repertory theater on the Lower East Side, where he is now the artistic and programming director, he held a 50th-anniversary screening of “Coming Apart” in 2019. Restorations of both of Mr. Ginsberg’s movies have been completed by the film company Kino Lorber.

The belated acceptance of his films offered some redemption to Mr. Ginsberg.

“In 2011, Milton said that he’s had two afterlives,” Mr. Perlin, who became friends with Mr. Ginsberg, said by phone. “When MoMA showed ‘Coming Apart,’ and 2011, when I showed both his films.”

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