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Keeping a diary from the age of four


A prodigy in the making
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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First, I began... the primary school like 1 or 2 years later than anybody else. So, when I finished the primary school, the first six grades that is, I was... became too old. They had the limit of age for the high school of the gymnasium, and I was too old by a couple of years. So, the only way to get into it was to take private teachers and jump a couple of years. The gymnasium and Lithuania at high school is 6 years, so I did that and I jumped over 4 years of, instead of 1 or 2; I jumped during one winter over 4 [years]. So I had only 2 instead of everybody else going for, sitting there for 6 years I just had 2 and I had no, no, no problems. I still did very well in it, but I had only one winter to go through 3 years of... yes, 2 years of French and 2 years of Latin and 4 years of mathematics and I... had to do that.

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: Jonas Mekas

Duration: 1 minute, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008