Anthology Film Archives


July 16 – September 29

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. Throughout this year we’ll pay tribute to his oeuvre by screening a wide selection of his films and videos, both widely celebrated classics and far more obscure works.

Between April-June we showcased his major “diary” films, but now, from July-September, we’ll turn the spotlight towards the portrait films. Throughout his career, Jonas created numerous films inspired by particular people – family, friends, and fellow artists and filmmakers. Taking a variety of forms, these works encompass brief but ecstatic fragments capturing a particular moment or period in his subject’s life (such as the John Lennon focused HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOHN), teeming mosaics that comprise a portrait of a whole community (BIRTH OF A NATION), and decades-spanning accounts of longstanding friendships (like the 6-hour SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF RAIMUND ABRAHAM). Whatever their form, these films demonstrate the magic that results when Jonas’s lyrical, deceptively offhand images accrue around a single individual, creating character studies of immense vitality, perceptiveness, and poetic richness.

In addition to Jonas’s own films, we’ll gather together numerous film portraits ofJonas, by a host of filmmakers including Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, Takahiko Iimura, Ken Jacobs, and many more. This chapter therefore will comprise both Jonas’s own perspective on his life, times, and fellow travellers, and Jonas himself through the eyes of others.

Very special thanks to Oona & Sebastian Mekas.

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