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Utopia means different things to different people


My life on film
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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The fourth element was a video piece dedicated to Fernand Leger called, Dedication to Fernand Leger. In 1933 Fernand Leger wrote that he was dreaming about a film 24 hours long in which you could see the life of a family, any family. I think what he meant though it would be filmed non-stop maybe from, you know, midnight to midnight. I was considering that but I thought that there must be more interesting family situation which I have done and did not have anymore because Oona is in one place, Sebastian in another place, that's, its boring. I would just let camera run on my books what, so I decided to pull out, make from my past. When I just got my video camera first, that was in the fall of '87, and I began pulling out material that family, only family, material that had to do with my family life. And I dealt... pulled more or less used material from six or seven years. So that, ideally it, in Paris it was shown on one monitor so every week they kept, went to the next two hours, but that is not my... I thought that they would be able to do it on 12 monitors such that there would be two hours, two hours, two hours, so then you can take for a five minutes watch, the year 1987, then you can jump to year 1994 and see how that's changed, its become much more interesting to follow and you are free to go on or just sit and go through them all. That is how it's playing now in Vilnius, on 12 monitors in Lithuania and that will be also recreated that way in Caen, France in Normandy, in end of November. That's the fourth element.

The fifth element was my videos, they showed on DVD of my new film, work which is now I think practically the same...in  the same order, but will be showing at the New York film festival this fall. My travels and, material, which I feel already in, between '66 and '80, but I never touched it. It could not fit in any other film without just stood out like a lump that did not belong when it came in with the rest of the material. I have a lot more material of that kind, that will keep me busy for some time. So those were at my Paris show.

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: Dedication to Fernand Leger, Fernand Leger

Duration: 3 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008