Underground filmmaker, photographer, actor, performance artist, Lower East Side fixture, homosexual, and anticapitalist Jack Smith was a central figure of New York underground culture from the 1960's until his death in 1989. In Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis, filmmaker and former music video director Mary Jordan creates a mesmerizing portrait of this avant-garde pioneer. Replete with an assemblage of photographs, film clips, and audio recordings of Smith's own voice, this signature work resurrects the seminal importance of Smith to the entire development of the 1960's New York underground scene. Jordan's film details the story behind the Supreme Court case over the banning of Smith's 1963 underground classic Flaming Creatures. She also illuminates Smith as a precursor to Andy Warhol in the production and promotion of art and delves into Smith's conflicted relationship with underground cinema champion Jonas Mekas over the promotion of Flaming Creatures. After the distribution of the film, Smith never "completed" another film. Instead he rearranged footage during screenings, thereby retaining control over his own art. Through interviews with Smith's sister, his formative years are revealed, including his lifelong fascination with Hollywood B-movie star Maria Montez (after whom Smith modeled the drag persona Mario Montez, which is featured in his films). This poignant documentary underscores the heroic nature of Smith's lifestyle and art during a time of political and social repression-a time not dissimilar from today.
Mary Jordan began working in production at the age of 16. By age 20 she was producing for some of Canada's top directors, including Steve Chase and Marco Brambilla. She formed and later sold the Australian production company Indigo Blue. She also discovered and represented burgeoning talents such as Andrew Lancaster and Mark Hartley. Jordan's previous documentary projects have centered on human rights, and include Thamanya-Burma, Can It!, and Quiet Powers and Female Circumcision in Africa. Some of her projects have been acquired by BBC Television and SBS.