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Walden and Thoreau


Turning footage into films: Walden and Lost, Lost, Lost
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I began... became more conscious of what I was doing, maybe around '61, somewhere there, that is maybe I thought, 'It's like a record of my life'. Not so much conscious of a diary form itself, it sort of developed gradually, so I began looking through all my past material and I kept like looking every year until I come maybe '65 until, and reducing sort of it and eliminating, I regret now that I threw out some of the footage that I eliminated, and something that became later, Walden and Lost, Lost, Lost.

Walden was finished first and like was practically finished in '67, but I think first screening was in '68, maybe, I have to check the dates, but I completed it in the form that it is almost like it is now, when Gerald O'Grady from Buffalo called me and said, 'I'm organising an arts festival at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo and besides theatre, music, whatever, we would like to have an evening of film'. And we thought maybe if you could do that. So I said, 'Sure, because I have something practically ready'. So, that is... he sponsored, you know, printing and that's how that film came, was completed. Lost, Lost, Lost came three or four years later. At that time already I sort of... but I kept in Walden on the... I mean, the same applies to all my films. Certain kind of material that goes like together has a certain unity.

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: Walden, Lost, Lost, Lost, Gerald O'Grady

Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010