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Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith


In his essay film, Jerry Tartaglia, longtime archivist and restorer of the film estate of queer New York underground, experimental film, and performance legend Jack Smith, deals less with Smith’s life than with his work, analyzing Smith’s aesthetic idiosyncrasies in 21 thematic chapters.
Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith is a film essay about the artist’s work, rather than a documentary about his life. Therefore, it does not present a rational, linear, and detached explanation of his work. Instead, it asks the viewer to sympathetically experience the aesthetic choices behind the work of Jack Smith. This strategy that I have chosen creates a challenge for the viewer, particularly those who are reliant upon external commentary or non-diegetic material in the documentary film form; I have no apology to offer those who cannot bear the unmediated vision of Jack Smith; only an invitation to join him in his lost paradise.”

Jerry Tartaglia

USA 2017


Documentary form
88’ · Colour & Black/White

World premiere


Jack Smith
Mario Montez
Beverly Grant
Tony Conrad
Agosto Machado
Francis Francine
Irving Rosenthal
Tally Brown
Mary Waronov
Tiny Tim


Jerry Tartaglia
Jerry Tartaglia


Jerry Tartaglia

Jerry Tartaglia, born in 1950 in Brooklyn, USA, studied at Albright College, 1968 – 1972. His films have been screened around the world at museums and film festivals. Since 1993 he restored the complete body of film work by the late Jack Smith. Tartaglia teaches cinema, writing, and media production.

Filmography (selection)

1988 A.I.D.S.C.R.E.A.M. 1989 Fin de Siecle · Ecce Homo 1990 Remembrance · Final Solutions 1991 Holy Mary · 1969 1993 Interpretations of Dreams 1995 See For Yourself 1998 Amnesia 2005 Via Dolorosa 2006 Sede Vacante 2008 Is What Was 2009 The Mystery School 2011 Prologue · The Projectionist 2013 A Short History of the Future 2017 Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018

Produced by

Jerry Tartaglia