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Fundraising to keep the Film-makers' Cooperative afloat


How I met Andy Warhol
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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[Q] What was your... I mean, did you have a relationship to the Warhol factory? I mean, it's always very...

It was a very, very busy period in my life because that was the busiest Film Culture magazine period. I was already doing a lot of my film work, it was Cooperative and having other things and all the screenings and showcases, so, again, my relationship was very practical, down-to-earth level. You know, showcases, and it's very seldom that I... there had to be... there had to be a reason for it, for me to go to. Either he was previewing just something finished that he screened in the Factory on the canvas, a big canvas was there. Or some special party like he was leaving maybe for Europe or for something or some other special occasion, I did not otherwise, I did not, I was there only a couple of times during the actual filming, I was not sticking around there, no. Because I saw them, you know, they all came to the screenings, to... or Andy, this is the anecdote, you know, about Andy. That when people ask, when did, how did you meet him? I said, 'No, I don't know because I found out that he was there at the Film-makers' Cooperative in my loft, already after several months of him there sitting on the floor and watching movies. I did not know who those people are and there was Andy, but I did not know it was Andy'.

I found out later during some birthday party, when they said, 'Come, come, Andy will be there, some of your friends and Andy'. I said, 'I don't know Andy, he's not my friend', so that's... so I met Andy only later at Naomi Levin's birthday party. And then I recognised him, I had seen him before. Actually, we always were very... did not spend... we spent more time during some summers later, 1969, 1970, '71, '72 in Montoc already when he bought his houses. And where I spent some summer weekends with the Kennedy children, with there Peter Beard, we spent more time together, but here it was just very practical, down-to-earth relationship. Screenings... he invites his friends. But he always supported me and he never let me down. Whenever I was really stuck and needed help financially, he... on a number of occasions he helped. He was very, how do I put it, healthy sense of solidarity. I never read... I don't have... I think I stole a copy from the Pink Pony, somebody, Ben, my friend stole it, I think I just received a copy of his fat Andy Warhol diaries book and supposedly he's very... whatever he says about the others when... but when there is an entry about... with my name it is always very nice, I was told. So... but I have not had time to check with it.

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 Culture, Naomi Levin, Andy Warhol, Peter Beard

Duration: 4 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010