a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania


My friendship with Yuri Zakova prompts accusations of spying
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

It happened so that the editor of Pravda... Pravda, Yuri Zhukov, decided that was in maybe '69, decided that '68 in America the year '68, actually it was late in '69, yes that there is this very anti-American movement in American like Chicago Eight, whatever, and that he wants to do a book on them and he wants to meet them.

[Q] Seven.


[Q] Yes, seven.

Seven, the Chicago Seven? Or eight? And so... and I was... did some pieces on cinema and for Iskustvo Kino which is the main film magazine in... was, those days in Moscow, so he sort of knew me from that, the name, so he approached me to into... for introduction, that could I introduce him to Allan Ginsberg to a number of people. So I said okay, sure. So he did that book and he did also... and that he gave me a chapter and later he saw The Brig and he thought it was a great anti-American film and that it should be shown in Moscow at the Moscow Film Festival which they did in... I think 1970. Then in '71 said, 'You should come to also to the Moscow Film Festival'. So I said, 'Sure, I've never been in Moscow so I will come'. And said at the same time I would like to go if you are going to Moscow maybe I could go also to Lithuania and visit my mother.

So there was long several months of silence and then thanks to Zhukov he persuaded them that they would allow me to go to... otherwise you could not go. So there I am in Moscow and I said, 'I should go and visit my friend Zhukov in Pravda' and, of course, all those delegations and... You cannot imagine what it meant when you pronounced the word Pravda, the... and when the delegation there from Lithuania discovered that I am friends with somebody, with the editor of Pravda, suddenly they did not know how to take me, I must be maybe an important, with secrets, you know, I could be a spy working really like that with Zhukov and Soviet Union so... 'You want a taxi? You want a...' I said, 'I want to go'. 'And what do you want to do in Moscow?' I said, 'I want to go and say hello to Zhukov', they went white practically. So they were in panic, they found me a taxi fast and I went and while they waited in the corridors there I had tea with Zhukov, I filmed it all and it appears in my Song of Moscow that will be shown at the New York Film Festival, the little moment for having tea with Zhukov. So I say, 'Can I really go to Lithuania and visit my mother?' 'Oh, of course you can'. So now, of course, nobody resisted and from there on the all the secret police, the Lithuanian, they did everything that I told them to do because they did not know how to take me.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: Pravda, The Brig, Song of Moscow, Yuri Zhukov, Iskustvo Kino, Allan Ginsberg

Duration: 4 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010