Films by Jonas Mekas

Films by Jonas Mekas

12 Episodes

The godfather of American experimental film, Jonas Mekas (1922–2019) dedicated his life to liberating cinema from the constraints of the mainstream, forging his own artistic language in which fleeting, autobiographical impressions of the everyday yield moments of ecstatic truth and beauty. Born in Lithuania, he was displaced by World War II before landing in New York, where he quickly established himself as one of the pillars of the city’s avant-garde scene, becoming a tireless champion of small-gauge, independent filmmaking through his work as a critic, curator, and cofounder of Anthology Film Archives and the influential journal “Film Culture.” This tribute to a true poetic visionary brings together two of Mekas’s most miraculous diary films—the epic “home movie” WALDEN and LOST LOST LOST, a reflection on his early years as an immigrant in New York—alongside a selection of his freewheeling shorts.

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Films by Jonas Mekas
  • Introducing Jonas Mekas

    Episode 1

    In this program created in 2019, John Mhiripiri, director of Anthology Film Archives, and filmmaker Jem Cohen discuss Jonas Mekas’s lasting legacy as an artist, an advocate for film culture, and the founder of Anthology Film Archives.

  • Walden
    Episode 2


    Episode 2

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1969 • United States

    WALDEN, Jonas Mekas’s first completed diary film, is an epic portrait of the New York avant-garde arts scene of the 1960s, featuring many of Mekas’s friends of that period, including Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Velvet Underground.

  • Lost, Lost, Lost

    Episode 3

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1976 • United States

    Drawing on fourteen years’ worth of footage, LOST LOST LOST documents Jonas Mekas’s early years in New York as he and his brother Adolfas build their new life in America, discovering the city and the burgeoning film and arts community of the down...

  • Hare Krishna

    Episode 4

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1966 • United States

    Jonas Mekas’s frenetic camera finds the ecstatic in a Hare Krishna celebration on the streets of New York City.

  • Notes on the Circus

    Episode 5

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1966 • United States

    The Ringling Bros. circus is transformed into a whirlwind spectacle of color, movement, and music.

  • Report from Millbrook

    Episode 6

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1966 • United States

    An idyllic afternoon with LSD guru Timothy Leary is intercut with a police raid on his upstate New York estate.

  • Cassis
    Episode 7


    Episode 7

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1966 • United States

    A full day, from sunrise to sunset, in the French coastal town of Cassis is captured in one glorious time-lapse shot.

  • Time & Fortune Vietnam Newsreel

    Episode 8

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1968 • United States

    The prime minister of Lapland (played by Adolfas Mekas) offers Uncle Sam some advice on how to wage the war in Vietnam in this satirical faux newsreel.

  • Travel Songs

    Episode 9

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 1981 • United States

    Impressions of Jonas Mekas’s travels through Europe—from Spain to Italy to Russia—rush by in an unstoppable kinetic whoosh.

  • Williamsburg, Brooklyn

    Episode 10

    Directed by Jonas Mekas • 2003 • United States

    This short portrait of Williamsburg draws on some of the earliest footage that Jonas Mekas ever shot in New York, as well as his return trips to the neighborhood decades later.

  • Jonas Mekas in Kodachrome Days

    Episode 11

    Directed by Ken Jacobs • 2009 • United States

    Avant-garde titan Ken Jacobs captures a candid moment with Jonas Mekas “dawdling in the cosmos.”

  • Makeshift for Mekas by Jem Cohen

    Episode 12

    Filmmaker Jem Cohen muses on his memories of attending Anthology Film Archives and his interactions with Jonas Mekas over the years.