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Robert Frank
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I met Robert Frank during the I, for years, I thought I met him for the first time during the filming of of "Pull My Daisy", I don't know why because it was such a monumental event, I think that film is. But I met him actually when I'm now, during this period, that is when I'm talking this is end of 2003 somewhere, Fall. Fall of end of September. I'm looking through my old notebooks and calendars and discovered that the mind, you know, forgets things that calendars retain the entries and notes that I had met already Robert Frank like, about two or three years earlier before that. He came from very shortly after he came from Switzerland he moved to he was doing helping on a film Lou Clyde Stouman? Stouman? Stouman? Was making a film on photographs like that film reports that's ten minutes long segment on Weston, on Weegee and Robert Frank was working with Weston at that time and he then Lou involved him to help him on Weegee in New York etc. So I met him very briefly after that film was finished in New York to Stouman's wife, Hanelore Haan, they sort of split around that time and she moved to New York and she knew Robert Frank so it was Hanelore Haan Stouman who introduced me to Robert Frank. And then I did not see him, you know, very often but beginning I saw more of Robert the beginning of filming of "Pull My Daisy". I was not there during the Jack Kerouac's improvisations for the soundtrack and we we we continued and when he was editing "Pull My Daisy" I was editing my first film, "Guns of the Trees". Through the years I, I, another incredible you know person, very, very, very different from any other. I would say that maybe he is the most from all my friends of that period was and remains the most humble and sometimes really underestimated not underestimating, I think he knows what he's doing and what's all about but he does not want to be, you know, talked about, presented. He wants to be totally invisible, totally invisible and not to stay in the recognised higher society. I mean, let's face it; everybody would like to have him, you know, to for dinner or meetings and why he didn't just come. No, he has been he prefers to be on the Bowery which or totally like part of the crowd of the lowest, really and he sympathises with the with the sort of lower depths and, yes, I'm talking more or less about Robert as in real life. Of course that goes into his work, his photography. And he sees you know, you can its one if the people that you you can't fa- he sees so you can see that he sees everything very directly, very there to the to the very bottom, though its like when you see his you know, its all you know, he's he's he's open and hidden, he's very, very defaced Robert as a person. Very, very open, very. very open. But there is also like he's like a rock there. It's you cannot touch, you cannot budge, he's there. Like a rock. In any case we have been, we remain very good friends. Actually, so much that a year ago he had a foundation and he, you know, he used to help some people who need money but it, you know, takes time and it's a nuisance so he decided to close it and whatever there was he gave to Anthology Film Archives to start an endowment. So thanks to Robert, Anthology has now $250,000 endowment, beginning the seed of the endowment. Robert Frank. I bend my head to you.

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.

Duration: 6 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010