Jonas Mekas (United States)

Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. 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. To this date he has 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 is largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Mekas has also been 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 has 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.


Photo: Wei Gao.

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
    1963/1983
  • 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

DAFilms.com is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

Doc Alliance Members