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The influence of books can determine a person's fate


Lithuania's religious wars
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Lithuania is a Catholic country by that time, at that time in 19... when I grew up it was 100%, that is 99.95% Catholic. The other half percent was in my area where I was born and grew up which was Protestant Reformed Protestant left over from Radziwiłł. Lithuania was Christianised by Jagiełło, in 14th century, and then there was a backlash when the... Luther came from the West and there was Protestantism. Radziwiłł family chased the Catholics out and he transformed Lithuania into Protestant country in 17th, 18th, 17th century. And then Catholics decided to counterattack their established Jesuit Catholic university, and Jesuits managed to push Protestants out and again Lithuania became again Catholic with a very small area of... and that is where I came from which remained Protestant. And the Protestant tradition which does not exist in Catholic tradition, families, is that sometimes three or four families some evenings get together and they sing religious hymns and they used to come - my father was the one, it was our house where they used to gather so I used to hear a lot and see my neighbours, you know, sing in the evening and my father used to try to interpret the bible. He reads and make his comments and, you know, what he thinks. That was a part of my early childhood.

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: Jagiełło, Radziwiłł, Lithuania

Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008