In 1986, fresh off Stranger Than Paradise, Jim Jarmusch used the Second Avenue Courthouse at the corner of East 2nd Street—then undergoing renovations prior to the arrival of its new tenant, Anthology Film Archives—as his set for a short film in which two unlikely people meet over coffee and cigarettes. (It was two become a recurrent theme.) So tomorrow night at Anthology, Jarmusch will screen and discuss his first Coffee and Cigarettes short (“Strange to Meet You”), starring Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni, and filmed at the Second Avenue Courthouse while Anthology was setting up shop there.
The event is part of Anthology’s commemoration of its founding in 1970; since its founding in 1970, the underground film institution has migrated to various temporary homes across the ever-changing cultural (and real-estate) landscape of the East Village and Lower East Side before finding a sturdy, permanent-seeming home at the Second Avenue Courthouse; throughout the decades, it’s represented a kind of seriously eccentric bohemia that if you pictured it would probably be in black-and-white, dressed in winter clothes, and sporting a bit too much hair.
So tomorrow night, in celebration of Anthology’s anniversary, another lodestar of the Downtown 80s, Jarmusch, will be on hand for a screening of the first of the original Coffee and Cigarettes shorts (later included in his Ultimate Hangout Film in 2003); he’ll also screen and discuss his most recent film, The Limits of Control (about which he has a lot of thoughtful stuff to say).
I know we’ve moved on to feeling nostalgic over Williamsburg-back-when-it-was-cool, but spare a moment, won’t you, for The East Village-back-when-it-was-cool?