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My morning routine


The loyalty and friendship of Kenneth Anger
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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It's very possible that I had not met Kenneth Anger until the premiere of Scorpio Rising in 1964. We premiered it at a Film-makers' Showcase. Then around that time also he moved to New York, so we had many more occasions to meet and, you know, just one thing I could say right now same as I have said and I will always say about Andy Warhol, there was... there is Warhol who always had great solidarity with the avant-garde and which I was doing especially. He never let me down. I could always go to him. Kenneth is another one of those. He... his dedication to the... I mean, he has been in his background is Hollywood and commercial cinema and they're all his friends and he admires and idealises many of the stars, but his real heart is in the dedication in his own work is the avant-garde film and he will support and won't betray, won't budge, he will be always in there. He may argue and have a great great list, he says, of enemies, you know there and he has many of them and that he puts curses on and never talks and but that has nothing to do with his dedication and with his... Also, he's very... very sensitive to if he feels that anybody has some bad, wrong intentions like they come, you know, to okay we will be able to give an interview, he sees immediately that there is... this person is just, you know, came only because he's considered like controversial, some personality, he just wants to do an article for... he does not do that, he just throws... or or when they call me and ask to make the files on Kenneth Anger available for... for research, I always check with Kenneth, 'Did he check with you?' And he tells me, 'No, no, that person, no, don't' and I know when I meet those persons, those people and I see that they're not the right people to do an article on Kenneth or to... he's very sensitive to that kind of thing.

And of course, you know, parts of his life, we don't know, you know, much... some periods and it's a pity because, like, we don't know much on anything what's his life. I don't know how long he was in Paris, but he spent some time in Paris, you know. Cocteau was the first one that recognised and wrote about this film, the first... no, it's not exactly first fireworks because he has made some other little films before that thought he never released. But we don't know much, there are, you know, holes, gaps in many lives of some of the key personalities, artists out there, avant-garde movement. And I... I have a real defect in myself, one, I have to admit. I never ask, you know, personal questions. So much that if I sometimes I have problems I... somebody says, introduces himself or herself the name and then I don't get and then I'm ashamed, too shy to ask again, and weeks, months, sometimes years pass and I don't know the name and I meet again and then I... somebody sometimes tells me. So I don't dig into the past into private personal areas of some of my colleagues and friends and because sometimes I feel, you know it's... you know, I should not do that.

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: Scorpio Rising, Kenneth Anger

Duration: 4 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010