This retrospective of the work of Jonas Mekas is the first of three parts in an on-going programme entitled Chasing Independence: Three Continents, Three Pioneers. In November we will follow up with a focus on the great Colombian hybrid filmmaker Luis Ospina and then in December with a retrospective of work by the legendary Canadian documentarian Alanis Obomsawin.
Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Two months after his arrival in New York he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon got deeply involved in the American Avant-Garde film movement. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, which soon became the most important film publication in the US. In 1958 he began his legendary Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers' Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avant-garde cinema, and a screening venue.
During all this time he continued writing poetry and making films. He published more than 20 books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His Lithuanian poetry is now part of Lithuanian classic literature and his films can be found in leading museums around the world. He was largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Mekas was also active as an academic, teaching at the New School for Social Research, the International Center for Photography, Cooper Union, New York University, and MIT.
Since 2000, Mekas expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Venice Biennale.
Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man
Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland
Happy Easter Ride
My Bars Bar Movie
Sleepless Nights Stories
My Paris Movie
Correspondences: José Luis Guerin and Jonas Mekas
Re: George Maciunas and Fluxus
I Leave Chelsea Hotel
Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
365 Day Project
Scenes from the Life of Hermann Nitsch
Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese
Father and Daughter
Letter from Greenpoint
Notes on Utopia
Travel Songs 1967-1981
Ar Buvo Karas?
Letter to Penny Arcade
Mozart & Wien and Elvis
Remedy for Melancholy
Requiem for a Manual Typewriter
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty
Autobiography of a Man Who Carried his Memory in his Eyes
Notes on Film-Maker's Cooperative
Notes on the Factory
This Side of Paradise
Song of Avignon
Symphony of Joy
Letter from Nowhere -- Laiškai iš niekur N.1
Scenes from Allen's Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit
Birth of a Nation
Letters to Friends
Memories of Frankenstein
Cinema is Not 100 Years Old
Happy Birthday to John
On My Way to Fujiyama
Imperfect 3-Image films
The Education of Sebastian or Egypt Regained
Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas
Dr. Carl G. Jung or Lapis Philosophorum
Quartet Number One
Mob of Angels at St. Ann
Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol
Mob of Angels: Baptism
Paradise Not Yet Lost (aka Oona's Third year)
Notes for Jerome
In Between: 1964-8
Lost Lost Lost
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life
Time and Fortune Vietnam Newsreel
The Italian Notebook
Erik Hawkins: Excerpts from "Here and Now with Watchers" / Lucia Dlugoszewski Performs
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