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Hated by Harry Smith


The fragile, artistic temperament
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Some of these people that I have been talking about, they're very complex and difficult people. Many intense artists and, you know, taking any artists that have given us incredible works are very often... are very difficult or complex people. So that if I go to the '60s, mid '60s and later, they were all meeting, you know... I mean... meeting, I have to tell that I managed to be friends with them all. So I met them all, I met them all. There were periods, which I think only... maybe there was one, one case, which is a complex case, that's Jack Smith. But I managed to be friends with all of them, therefore, I could meet... and when they meet in my place, they sort of meet and they talk, but outside, very often, they did not speak with each like and some of them I know even today are not speaking, like Kenneth not talking to Michael Snow already for 10 years or P Adams Sitney did not talk to Brakhage for 30 years or whenever... You could not have Harry Smith and Jack... Harry Smith and Kenneth Anger in the same room because they would be incredible trouble, so... and etc. So it is... but... and for some very little and small reason which... not very rational reasons sometimes.

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: Jack Smith, Michael Snow, P Adams Sitney, Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger

Duration: 2 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010