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Avant-garde and mainstream films


The younger generation
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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They find me and they surround me and that's, I prefer that than- I don't go and seek any, and I cannot stand and I would just die whenever I, in the sort of older generation stuffy situations, I mentioned, I think or did I mention during these sessions that I went to, not long ago, sometimes I go, I don't go to openings I cannot stand opening parties or dinners because they sit around, they are not always that they are old. They can be 35 or 40 years old, scholars, even some successful artists that became successful very fast and when they talk it is just business and it's boring and it's, it's, there is no energy and there is no excitement and no poetry so I cannot stand while, and my- Anthology's family including those who visit us, you know, we laughed the other day, that the average age is maybe when you put all and put all the ages together of all the workers and friends its maybe not more than thirty, maybe 26, 27. So its, its I mean there is life there is energy there is, there are dreams there, there is poetry, dreams that's where I am at home and that's, yeah. The scholars you know that's not my, that's why I cannot teach, I cannot stand the university atmosphere, no, no. I don't, I deal- I mean the past is reflected so that it determines everything that I do or film but I look only forward, I don't look back. Actually, you know, is somebody asked what would you study? I said I would like to go to university and study something now. What would you study? I would like, probably study history. And, yeah, yet I bought, today I bought I passed where there is a bookshop, I bought "Aeneid", Virgil's "Aeneid" in Latin and so I will be trying to read that. In poetry I am interested now to go as far back as in literature but not, history, it would be interesting to go and study history. But I have no time for it.

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: 3 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010