In 1920, painter Charles Sheeler and photographer Paul Strand collaborated on Manhatta, widely regarded as the first American avant-garde film and the progenitor of the so-called City Symphony film. It chronicles a day in the life of New York City, shot over several months, surveying five square blocks of lower Manhattan from a variety of vertiginous angles.

You can read the complete version of this article in the September / October 2003 print edition of Film Comment.