Jonas Mekas
(United States)

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.

Films
Filmography
Guns of the Trees
1962
Film Magazine of the Arts
1963
The Brig
1964
Award Presentation to Andy Warhol
1964
Cup/Saucer/Two Dancers/Radio
1965/1983
Report from Millbrook
1965/1966
Hare Krishna
1966
Notes on the Circus
1966
Cassis
1966
The Italian Notebook
1967
Time and Fortune Vietnam Newsreel
1968
Walden
1969
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
1972
Lost Lost Lost
1976
In Between: 1964-8
1978
Notes for Jerome
1978
Paradise Not Yet Lost (aka Oona's Third year)
1979
Self-Portrait
1980
Street Songs
1966/1983
Erik Hawkins: Excerpts from "Here and Now with Watchers" / Lucia Dlugoszewski Performs
1966/1983
He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life
1969/1985
Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol
1990
A Walk
1990
Mob of Angels: Baptism
1990
Mob of Angels at St. Ann
1991
Dr. Carl G. Jung or Lapis Philosophorum
1992
Quartet Number One
1991
Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas
1992
The Education of Sebastian or Egypt Regained
1992
Imperfect 3-Image films
1995
On My Way to Fujiyama
1995
Happy Birthday to John
1996
Cinema is Not 100 Years Old
1996
Memories of Frankenstein
1996
Letters to Friends
1997
Birth of a Nation
1997
Symphony of Joy
1997
Scenes from Allen's Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit
1997
Letter from Nowhere -- Laiškai iš niekur N.1
1997
Song of Avignon
1998
Laboratorium Anthology
1999
This Side of Paradise
1999
Notes on the Factory
1999
Notes on Film-Maker's Cooperative
1999
Autobiography of a Man Who Carried his Memory in his Eyes
2000
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty
2000
Mozart & Wien and Elvis
2000
Silence, Please
2000
Requiem for a Manual Typewriter
2000
Remedy for Melancholy
2000
Letter to Penny Arcade
2001
Ein Märchen
2001
Ar Buvo Karas?
2002
Mysteries
1966/2002
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
1949/2002
Travel Songs 1967-1981
2003
Letter from Greenpoint
2004
Notes on Utopia
2003-2005
Father and Daughter
2005
Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese
2005
Scenes from the Life of Hermann Nitsch
2005
First Forty
2006
365 Day Project
2007
Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
2008
I Leave Chelsea Hotel
2009
Sleepless Nights Stories
2011
My Paris Movie
2011
My Bars Bar Movie
2011
Correspondences: José Luis Guerin and Jonas Mekas
2011
Re: George Maciunas and Fluxus
2011
Mont Ventoux
2011
Happy Easter Ride
2012
Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland
2012
Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man
2012

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