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A day in the life of (Part 2)
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I return around 2:30. I spend about, no rush, about one hour and then I still check what else there is, usually has to do with film preservation or with some answering, they come with some questions that I, only I can answer about some films. Now, we have an archivist who is beginning to work on the collection and there are many, many, many answers because it was me who brought every film in that building and I know every film, where it is and what it means and what it is. So, I have to do that. Around three I go, walk home. Sometimes, on my way I stop for a beer, go and then I begin to work on what, many projects that I am involved simultaneously, like now on my written diaries, organiz- you know, reading and preparing them for typing. Somebody right now is doing a big volume in Lithuania and my, my, my, writings so I have to see it always, that they have everything to dig out, to go through, and sometimes they need to locate some dates that were I discovered my calendars and this incredible treasury of dates and notes from last 40, 50 years. I kept notebooks always, yearly notebooks. It goes this way until like seven when I begin to think where I'm going to eat. And then sometimes I call my friends or somebody who is visiting, in town calls me during the day and asks me to join them. If not then I, I do something at home. My kitchen talents are limited. I know how to make potato pancakes, some, some other pancakes, some, or I always have sausage and garlic and cheese, which is very good for you, goat cheese. If I'm, have a necessity or sometimes, always people want some film or something, new video, then I work on, actually almost every day I spend some time on my video and I have not been in my film room for like several months already. I'm not working right now, present on film. But I'm working on some of the sounds. Somebody wants to issue a CD of Lithuanian songs, because they discovered that I always sing with my friends, most of the time, actually the reason was different. I discovered that what they, what I get from Lithuania today are folk songs. They are so really orchestrated and so polished and so academicised that I don't even want to listen to them. Because real folk singing is, you know, when people get together and they sing and its pretty raw, so and when I get together with my friends we sort of, singing is simple and straight with no academy and I have a lot of it so I will be preparing a CD of Lithuanian folk songs. Then most of the time when I cannot do anything else then I turn on television to see if maybe some news, unless there is Clint Eastwood on it, then I get involved, then I go until two o' clock, but normally it would be like 12:30 that I go to bed or something like that. Okay, approximately. But I cannot, the Anthology period is very, I cannot indicate to you how complex, usually its not a second free. I mean there is, and I have to do two or three things if somebody calls I have something else is there I already forget that and its very complex there because there are a few of us and there is a lot to do.

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: 5 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010