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My uncle. Libraries
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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My mother's brother was a Protestant pastor in the city, one of the three that there were because there were not many Protestant families. But my, but he was very important to me, that is my brother, my, he's my uncle? My mother's brother is what? My uncle? Because he had a very large, when I went to gymnasium, what is it called, or college or high school, here, would be the equivalent of a high school- it was already not in the village but it was in the city of 6,000 people and I stayed in my uncle's house and he had a tremendous library in, in, not only in Lithuania but in German and French. And when he studied in Germany and Switzerland he became, he befriended Spengler [?], so he had all his writings there and he kept [unclear] and spoke to me about Spengler. So, that library was like one of my sort of mini, early mini universities, I would just, of course, zoom through it. I zoomed through all the libraries that I could put my hands on. In the village there was one neighbour who had his own little library and when I, that I exhausted it, I zoomed through that library when I was still, you know, watching the cows and the sheep. I always held two or three, you know, behind my shirt and they were all full of sweat, those books. Later, of course, the Soviets shot him. He was too educated.

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: 2 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008