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.
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, 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.
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...