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Doing what nobody else is doing


Establishing Film Culture and The Village Voice
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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And when we began publishing, and when I say 'we' I should say my brother, at Film Culture, we covered, be tried to cover and we covered all the aspects until, until like 1960 maybe 1963, and the same I did, at the same time during the same period, writing for The Village Voice, covering all of the aspects that was, that I was interested until it became clear by '63 that there was already so much coverage of commercial or the narrative cinema that were already other publications like, okay, Film Quarterly or that I did not have to give much, any more space that I could devote more space to the avant-garde, I took writing, to the writing to the avant-garde film, non-commercial film because nobody, no other publication was giving space to that cinema. So we began Film Culture, gravitated slowly and quite really fast into sort of giving less and less space to the commercial cinema. And in The Village Voice, I decided that I should bring in somebody else and that was my friend Andrew Sarris that I could, because the independent avant-garde or underground scene became so active so that I had to give more space to it so I said, I will get, devote myself for that independent film area and I will bring Andrew Sarris to cover the commercial of cinema. And that's what I did.

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: Film Cuture, The Village Voice, Film Quarterly, Andry Sarris

Duration: 2 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008