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The different kinds of cinema


Influences and interests
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Every book I ever read, every piece of music I have listened to have made influences and changes you, and I have big problems of when they ask, okay, give me, who is... whom... give me two or most of the time they say, what was your preferable composer. I cannot do that. I can name ten or... I mean, Sight and Sound or just last, a few months ago, last year, asked me about my ten, a list of ten most important films ever made. I could not do that. I could not do that. First I had to break down to the narrative sort of public cinema, narrative cinema, novelistic cinema, then the documentary cinema, then the poetic avant-garde, see, it's already three groups and it's already 30. I could not reduce, so I did not send them anything because they, I'm interested in so, my tree of cinema is not just one branch; it's many different branches I'm interested in and I'm following, all of them inspire me, not just one.

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: public cinema, novelistic cinema, poetic avant-garde

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008