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  • MoMA American Indies: Ganja And Hess

    MoMA Films: Ganja And Hess

    Dr. Hess Green is a wealthy anthropologist who has enlisted the help of museum curator George Meda in the study of an ancient African culture called the Myrthia, which ceased to exist due to a mysterious blood disease that decimated the population.

    George has been suffering from depression and battling suicidal tendencies. Late one night after the two men have retreated to their rooms in Green's isolated Westchester, New York, mansion, George goes berserk. The drunken George stabs the sleeping Dr. Green with a Myrthian dagger that contains trace elements of DNA from the extinct culture, thereby transmitting the disease of Myrthia—an addiction to drinking blood.

    The current fascination with vampiric narratives renewed interest in Ganja and Hess, a truly independent film shot on location in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and at the Brooklyn Museum. The film opened in April 1973 with no advance notice and after a week's run was beginning to garner word-of-mouth excitement.

    Director Bill Gunn had contracted with Kelly-Jordan Enterprises to produce a film titled The Vampires of Harlem, intended to be a Blaxploitation horror film. In spite of the critical praise and good notices at Cannes, the production company pulled the film from distribution. The film was re-cut and re-released in 1974 as Blood Couple. It was not until 2003 when the film was preserved that the original production once again was made available to the public.

    113 minutes. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Film Foundation.

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