Anthology Film Archives

JONAS MEKAS TRIBUTE SCREENINGS, PART 1: I MAKE HOME MOVIES, THEREFORE I LIVE

April 16 – June 23

On January 23rd of this year, almost a month after his 96th birthday, Anthology’s founder Jonas Mekas passed away. Despite his advanced age, Jonas’s energy, joy, and perceptiveness, as well as his mischievous spirit and boundless openness to new forms of expression, were unflagging until his very final days. He remained a fixture of experimental and independent culture – in NYC and internationally – and a major driving force here at Anthology, until the end. In a very real sense, every program we present – and every film we save, preserve, and restore – has been and will continue to be a tribute to Jonas, to his tireless promotion of avant-garde film and his creation of multiple institutions and initiatives to support the infrastructure of non-commercial cinema. But in order to officially mark his passing we will be organizing numerous screenings over the coming months in his honor.

Jonas was, of course, not only a writer, poet, artist, and co-founder of Anthology, the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and Film Culture Magazine, but also a filmmaker of great renown. Over the course of the April-June quarter, we’ll begin to pay tribute to his own oeuvre by screening his major “diary films.” The diary film was a genre that Jonas largely pioneered himself, a form that proudly partook of the spontaneity, impressionism, dailiness, and lack of polish of home movies, elevated to another plane by dint of their poetic sensitivity, their ultimate sense of structure, and the wit and lyricism of his occasional narration.

For these tribute screenings – each of which will be introduced by filmmakers, artists, scholars, or critics for whom Jonas’s work was meaningful – we’ll be presenting the major diary films chronologically, not according to when they were edited or released (Jonas perpetually worked with material filmed years earlier) but according to when the footage itself was shot. Beginning with LOST LOST LOST (which covers the first 15 years following Jonas and his brother Adolfas’s emigration to the U.S.), we will proceed through seminal films such as WALDEN (shot in the mid-to-late 1960s), and on to works filmed primarily in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and beyond into the 21stcentury (the format gradually shifting to video, a medium Jonas fully embraced). Seen chronologically in this fashion the films will tell the (quasi-linear) story of Jonas’s life, as mediated through the film and video cameras that were his constant companions.

In the summer and fall, we’ll widen the focus to take in Jonas’s portrait films and other works, movies he admired and championed, and films by other directors that depict or evoke Jonas Mekas and his legacy.

Very special thanks to Oona & Sebastian Mekas.

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