John Cohen

John Cohen is one of America’s pre-eminent documentary filmmakers. He was a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, which from 1958 to 1979 performed and recorded traditional folk music and influenced many other musicians, including Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and Ry Cooder.

He is also a noted still photographer, and he has exhibited at museums and galleries around the world and recently produced an extraordinary book of his photographs, titled There Is No Eye: John Cohen Photographs.

In the early 1960s he began to make films on indigenous music, tracing its roots in ancient cultures and exploring its contemporary social role in several countries, particularly Peru and the United States. Since then he has produced a remarkable series of documentary films that have been acclaimed by scholars and critics and won awards and honors at festivals and academic conferences worldwide.

His films are particularly noted for their visual richness and their deep understanding of the links between culture, music, art, and religion. His films are rich in detail and full of vitality, and they are appreciated by scholars and enjoyed by general audiences. Berkeley Media LLC is proud to be the exclusive distributor of John Cohen’s works.

Showing all 16 results

  • film_68

    The Ballad and the Source

    The tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing is very old and still cherished in Great Britain, though only a few traditional singers are still alive.

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  • film_108

    Carnival in Q’eros

    This groundbreaking documentary, by renowned filmmaker and musician John Cohen, shows the remarkable Carnival celebrations — never before seen by outsiders — of a remote community of Indians high in the Peruvian Andes.

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  • film_110

    Choqela: Only Interpretation

    This provocative and profound film documents the Choqela ceremony, an agricultural ritual and song of the Aymara Indians of Peru. By offering several different translations of the proceedings, the film acknowledges the problems of interpretation as an inherent dilemma of anthropology.

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  • film_111

    Dancing with the Incas

    This extraordinary film documents the most popular music of the Andes — Huayno music — and explores the lives of three Huayno musicians in a contemporary Peru torn between the military and the Shining Path guerrillas.

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  • film_101

    The End of an Old Song

    Filmed in the mountains of North Carolina, this acclaimed documentary by renowned filmmaker John Cohen revisits the region where English folklorist Cecil Sharp collected British ballads in the early 1900s.

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  • film_107

    Fifty Miles from Times Square

    A colorful portrait of life in Putnam County, New York, with its "old-time fiddlers, farmers, commuters, and hippies," where an earlier, more traditional, relaxed style of life continues.

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  • film_100

    Gypsies Sing Long Ballads

    Scotland’s Gypsies have lived outside mainstream society for more than 500 years. This remarkable documentary, by renowned filmmaker and musician John Cohen, celebrates their traditional music.

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  • film_102

    The High Lonesome Sound

    This classic documentary, by renowned filmmaker John Cohen, evocatively illustrates how music and religion help the rural poor of Appalachia maintain their dignity and traditions in the face of change and hardship.

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  • film_109

    Mountain Music of Peru

    This classic documentary on the centuries-old music of the Andes demonstrates the importance or the region’s musical heritage in preserving the cultural identity of the impoverished native peoples.

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  • film_103

    Musical Holdouts

    This classic, entertaining documentary on American traditional music features varied individuals and groups who have not become part of the “melting pot” of American society.

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  • film_105

    Pericles in America

    This musical portrait of immigrant clarinetist Pericles Halkias and the Epirot-Greek community explores the aspirations and ambivalences of Greek-Americans.

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  • film_113

    Peruvian Weaving

    This informative documentary examines warp pattern weaving in Peru, an ancient Andean Indian tradition handed down from woman to woman for some 5,000 years.

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  • film_106

    Post-Industrial Fiddle

    This deceptively simple but profound film explores the importance of music-making in the life of a pulp mill worker in rural Maine. His "Down East" fiddling style is homemade music, influenced largely by local traditions.

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  • film_112

    Q’eros: The Shape of Survival

    This classic documentary, by renowned filmmaker John Cohen, provides a multifaceted exploration of the way of life of the Q’eros Indians of Peru, who have lived in the Andes for more than 3,000 years.

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  • film_104

    Sara and Maybelle

    A rare filmed performance of two members of the original Carter family, whose recordings helped found the country music industry. Here Sara and Maybelle demonstrate their famous guitar picking and harmony singing on "Sweet Fern" and "Solid Gone."

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  • mary_frank_comp_web

    Visions of Mary Frank

    This intimate and revelatory documentary, by the noted filmmaker, photographer, and musician John Cohen, profiles the life and art of New York artist Mary Frank. In the words of Tom Huhn, Chair of Art History and Visual and Critical Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, “This beautiful film is a profound demonstration of the continuity from art to life to art-making…” and “one of the most powerful and intimate portraits of an artist that we had ever seen.”

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