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Different careers in different countries
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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My Lithuanian activities, my poetry take no time. That is done, you know poetry does not take time, it takes completely something else. So, all my physical time is, is, is cinema is avant-garde and that's very very big chunk. Now I'm, again I have a different life that is invisible and not known in America but it's very visible in Europe, in France especially but in some other countries also, or in Japan. You see, it, it's very sort of, sometimes I say that in Lithuania I am only a literary person, I am a poet. They don't take seriously my cinema and they don't know my cinema. They are beginning now, they knew, the younger generation they, they, they actually right now last week, they organised a screening of my "Dedication to Fernand Leger" the 24-hour long video on 12 monitors. In here, in the United States, my filmmaking is sort of known but only in certain circles. I'm mostly known, I think, I'm not exaggerating as the, they call me a maverick and, or maybe some remember from "The Village Voice", promoter and maverick, independent cinema now in Brooklyn they call me Godfather, whatever that, but not, not a filmmaker. In Europe I am a filmmaker. And now also in Europe I'm also doing a lot of installations and the exhibitions in museums, something that I started really already 15 years ago in Japan, making prints of certain images from my film. I call them frozen film frames when, which is possible only to do with my kind of footage where there is a lot of single frame activity. Where there, if you take a regular Hollywood kind of, you know, movie or TV documentary, and take two frames there is no different than the other. In my film with, within those two frames could be, could be already three clashes or two clashes so I'm very much interested in that. It's something between photography and cinema but it's neither photography nor cinema. So it's sort of, it's challenging, kind of obsession. I have discussed this with Robert Frank and he's also, you know he's interested in, in those possibilities. I'm, I'm not taking any just three frames; I really chose what there is some dynamic. It could be portraits, it could be anything. So, by having exhibitions and I'm sort of, of those frames and, in galleries and museums like Metropolitan Museum in Tokyo or Jeu De Paume in, in Galerie de Jour in Paris

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: 4 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008