Sara Driver collection related to the film adaptation of Paul Bowles's "You Are Not I"

Biographical and Historical Notes

Filmmaker Sara Driver (born 1955) played a central part in the independent film scene, often referred to as No Wave Cinema, that flourished in New York City in the late 1970s and 1980s. Her directorial debut was a short film titled You Are Not I (1981), based on the Paul Bowles 1948 short story of the same name.

Driver studied film at New York University, graduating with an MFA in 1982. During her years of study, she participated in the creative milieu consisting of a considerable amount of emerging artists, including director and screenwriter Amos Poe (born 1949), director and actor Eric Mitchell (born 1949), director and actor Susan Seidelman (born 1952), as well as Driver's long-term partner filmmaker and composer Jim Jarmusch (born 1952). Driver first received acclaim for producing two of Jarmusch's early classics, Permanent Vacation (1979) and Stranger than Paradise (1984).

Although released in the same era, her film, You Are Not I, disappeared from public view when a leak in a New Jersey warehouse destroyed the negative. Driver made the film on a budget of $12,000, premiering it locally at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre. Upon its initial release, the film met with great acclaim and was shown in various film festivals. In its end-of-the-decade review, Cahiers du Cinema ranked You Are Not I as one of the best films of the 1980s. In 2008, a surviving copy of the film was found by University of Delaware librarian Francis Poole among Paul Bowles's effects in Tangier in the possession Bowles's long-time assistant and executor, Abdelouahad Boulaich.

Driver went on to create an oeuvre of films, including the award-winning feature films Sleepwalk (1986) and When Pigs Fly (1993). From 1996 to 1998, she taught directing at New York University to a new generation of aspiring filmmakers.


Kennedy, Randy. "Film of Paul Bowles' Short Story Rediscovered." The New York Times, November 12, 2010. Accessed October 22, 2014.

K├╝stendorf Film and Music Festival 2010. "Sara Driver." Accessed October 22, 2014.

Scope and Content Note

This collection brings together materials related to Sara Driver's short film You Are Not I (1981), based on the 1948 short story by American composer and author Paul Bowles (1910-1999) of the same name. Included in this collection is a variety of promotional materials, distribution information, and other ephemera from the film's initial release and early screenings.

Highlights include a photocopy of the script co-written by Sara Driver and Jim Jarmusch (the final page is handwritten) along with a photocopy of Paul Bowles's short story. The correspondence, including a letter from Bowles to Driver, reveals the process of obtaining permissions for Bowles's work as well as the overseas distribution of the film.

The bulk of the collection comprises promotional material and reviews. Included is a list of showings with accompanying posters, flyers, and programs from early screenings, including the American debut at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in a double feature with Leonard Kastle's The Honeymoon Killers. There is also documentation of a screening in Madrid alongside films of her contemporaries Tim Burns, Amos Poe and Jim Jarmusch and another in Paris with Robert Frank's Beat era film, Pull My Daisy. The reviews of the film come from French and American magazines reporting on the screenings of the film as it made its initial rounds. Additionally there is a selection from Jonathan Rosenbaum's book, which provides an early example of the film's inclusion in overviews of the period. Additional promotional material includes postcards, reproductions of film stills and contact sheets, and a reproduction of a Japanese VHS version of the film.

The rediscovery and restoration of You Are Not I allowed for the film to be shown once again; the collection contains a list of materials exhibited with the rediscovered film and a handbill with schedule from a 2012 film series.