First show: June 14

Plays with Barbara Rubin’s CHRISTMAS ON EARTH on Friday, June 14, at 8:45pm AND Sunday, June 16, at 6:00pm

Director Chuck Smith IN PERSON for Q&A after the 7pm screening on Friday, June 14 and the 6:30pm screening on Saturday, June 15.

“Barbara was the moving force and coordinator between us all.” – Lou Reed, December 2012

Made when she was just 18 years old, Barbara Rubin’s art-porn masterpiece Christmas On Earth (1963-65) shocked NYC’s experimental film scene and inspired NYC’s thriving underground. For the next four years her filmmaking and irrepressible energy helped shatter artistic and sexist boundaries. A mythical “Zelig” of the sixties, she introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. But beyond shaping the spirit of the sixties, Barbara was seeking the deeper meaning of life. For years, Jonas Mekas treasured all of Barbara’s letters and films and cherished her memory. Working with Mekas’ footage, the film takes us inside the world and mind of Barbara Rubin; a woman who truly believed that film could change the world.

Featuring Jonas Mekas, Amy Taubin, Richard Foreman and J. Hoberman.

With music by Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Coltrane, and others. As well as original scoring by Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth.

Directed by Chuck Smith. 2019. 78 min. DCP.



Originally titled Cocks And Cunts, CHRISTMAS ON EARTH is a film of sexual tableaux vivants, gay and straight, where two separate reels of film are superimposed on each other, with additional light effects layered on these images, all accompanied by a contemporary rock radio soundtrack, as specified by Rubin.

Barbara Rubin started working for Jonas Mekas at the Filmmaker’s Cinematheque in 1963. This was the year she filmed Christmas On Earth in the Lower East Side apartment of Tony Conrad and John Cale at 56 Ludlow Street. This was also the future home of Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed, and where the first version of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” was recorded in the summer of 1965.

After a handful of screenings in the mid- to late- 1960s, CHRISTMAS ON EARTH remained unseen for years as per Rubin’s instructions for the film to be destroyed. Luckily, Mekas did not follow through on Rubin’s request, as she later changed her mind and allowed him to screen and distribute the film. Since 1983, it has been screened regularly, and is slowly but steadily taking its place in the canon of 1960′s underground films and cultural milestones that unraveled American censorship law and opened the field for artistic studies of sexual narratives.

A film by Barbara Rubin. 1963. Digital restoration. 30 min. Courtesy of The Film-Makers’ Cooperative.

Barbara Rubin’s CHRISTMAS ON EARTH plays after BARBARA RUBIN & THE EXPLODING NY UNDERGROUND on Friday, June 14, at 8:45pm AND Sunday, June 16 at 6:00pm

NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME. Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.