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Film-making processes


Raising funds for all the essential projects
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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The main headache is the fundraising and... and that... that is, you know, luck, miracles, luck and hard work and nothing else, constantly, you know, attacking all the people, all the people that I've during my, you know, my New York life I had sort of befriended, and the renovation of the building we knew will be about one million. It became one million point seven to transport it from, you know... Totally, it was disaster of a building, no roof, no... no... just walls, practically, so I would say one third of it, of the monies came from the artists who donated their works which I sold. We published an art portfolio with some of the best artists that we had in 1970: Warhol, Rauchenberg, Richard Serra and Rosenquist down the line. Then, we took a huge bank loan of $850,000 and that's what we're still paying, 250. And various smaller, you know, donations and loans, but we did it.

I did not know where it will come from, I had no idea, same as I don't know now. The library will cost us two million and a half. I have no idea where it will come from, but I know that there is a necessity for it, therefore, the money... I will be able to persuade it somebody or several people to help me because there is a necessity and when there is a necessity I am able to persuade people. When there is no necessity for something then, you know... But at this case there is an absolute necessity. Because those paper materials must be available and plus... I mean, they're history and Harry Smith's of 3,000 very rare music records, there are 5,000 of his book collection of his book, the original Kenneth Anger drawings and all the and boxes and boxes of Joseph Cornell paper materials and Brakhage and... and etc. Of course to some, some will say: so what, big deal. But there will be others who will understand. And so, what I mean, with all the money is going for totally useless activities, projects like wars and here at least here will be two million and half put into something that will last, that something that will remain. So it will be done.

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: Stan Brakhage, Joseph Cornell, Kenneth Anger, Harry Smith

Duration: 3 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010