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Speak only of what you know


My trusty Bolex cameras
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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The first Bolex that I bought, it was Ray Wisniewski that borrowed from me in '61, one of the Bolexes. It was already my second Bolex, I think. He said, 'Please, we are going to protest this nuclear ship that is coming in here', on boats or something like that. So I said, 'Okay, go and film'. Then he comes back the next day, says, 'I was in a boat, they attacked us, we were... our boats were attacked and I had to jump into the water and the Bolex fell into the... into the Hudson Bay somewhere', the Hudson I mean. So he dived and he got it out, but it never worked, it was full of salt. Then my next Bolex was... I sort of trusted more some people with some warnings and Gregory Markopoulos used to shoot Galaxy and parts of Twice a Man, Reuben, Barbara Ruben shot Christmas on Earth and Naomi Levin filmed her little film Yes, and there were several of them, many films and Jack Smith, of course, for Normal Love. So, there is the Bolex here sitting still and I shot most of Walden and parts of Lost, Lost, Lost with it. I'm on my fifth Bolex now. You know, they survive for one decade or less and then the springs get tired.

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: Galaxy, Twice a Man, Christmas on Earth, Yes, Normal Love, Walden, Lost, Lost, Lost, Ray Wisniewski, Gregory Markopoulos, Barbara Ruben, Naomi Levin, Jack Smith

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010