Twenty years after it first premiered on the IFC Channel, the pioneering program Split Screen stands as a priceless portrait of America’s wide-ranging, often quirky filmmaking community coming into its own. This irreverent show mixed footage of creator and host John Pierson and his band of cinephiles gathering impressions from the fringes of the movie-loving community in the late 1990s, intimate encounters with icons such as John Waters and Herschell Gordon Lewis, and sneak peeks of new work, including a little juggernaut known as The Blair Witch Project.
Now that the series has a new streaming home on the Criterion Channel, FilmStruck is teaming up with the Film Society of Lincoln Center for a Criterion Live! event on May 10 in celebration of its anniversary. The evening will feature Pierson in person introducing clips and reuniting with Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Miranda July, Chris Smith, Daniel Myrick, and other filmmakers who collaborated on the show.
In anticipation of the event, Pierson shared a few thoughts with us:
“Split Screen first aired on March 10, 1997. It started as my idea, enabled by Janet Pierson and a tiny group of believers, and might only have lasted for the initial four-episode run that IFC ordered. But Kevin Smith cohosted one from the Quick Stop where Clerks was set, Rick Linklater came to Lincoln Center with SubUrbia, Chris Smith worked on all four shows and provided an early look at what would become American Movie, director P. H. O’Brien crashed his car and made the first commissioned outside segment, Bob the Mailman delivered the found video ‘Direction Man,’ documentarian Marina Zenovich danced in Park City, and before we knew it we’d been on for four years and become a home for nearly a hundred contributing filmmakers. Ever since Split Screen ran its course in 2000, the show has been unavailable even as the list of films and careers it helped launch continued to grow. So it’s just really exciting for me and everyone involved to have this opportunity to get the whole (big) band back together twenty years later! And in addition to Kevin, Rick and Chris, Miranda July, and Dan Myrick will join us on stage while over forty of our treasured contributors celebrate in the audience.”