Underground Film Journal

Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas leaps into the air from a New York City sidewalk

Jonas Mekas was born on Dec. 24, 1922 in Lithuania. He later emigrated to the U.S. in 1948 after escaping from a German work camp during WWII. Shortly after his arrival in NYC with his brother Adolfas, Mekas became the leading champion for the underground film scene by publishing the quarterly journal Film Culture, writing a weekly column for the Village Voice called "Movie Journal," co-founding the Film-makers' Cooperative distribution center and co-founding the first "museum of film," the Anthology Film Archives.

Mekas also began his own filmmaking career directing a fictional narrative, Guns of the Trees, but soon turned to focusing exclusively on his "diary" filmmaking, capturing his daily life on film and then, later, on video. Throughout his life, Mekas has edited his diary footage into long, cohesive works such as Walden; Lost, Lost, Lost; As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty; and many more.

Mekas is still a widely influential figure in the American underground film scene, which he dubbed the New American Cinema back in the '60s. Plus, in 2007, he founded the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The below filmography for Mekas is in no way complete due to his prodigious diary output, but much of it was constructed using research for the Journal's Underground Film Timeline.

Watch Streaming Films By Jonas Mekas:

Filmography

A Letter From Greenpoint (2005)
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000)
Notes for Jerome (1978)
Lost, Lost, Lost (1976)
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1971)
Walden (1969)
The Millbrook Report (1966)
The Circus Notebook (1966)
Hare Krishna (1966)
The Brig (1964) (WATCH)
Award Presentation to Andy Warhol (1964)
Moires: Dali/Oster Newsreel (1963)
Film Magazine of the Arts (1963)
Rabbitshit Haikus (1962-63)
Guns of the Trees (1961)
100 Glimpses of Salvador Dali (1961-)
Silent Journey (1955)
Circus Notebook (1955)
Grand Street (1953)

Articles:

Robert Beck Memorial Cinema: January — May Screenings, 1999

Continuing into 1999 at the Collective Unconscious theater space in NYC, the RBMC — co-programmed by Brian L. Frye and Bradley Eros — went on hiatus for the first week of the year, but resumed on January 12. Below is a list of screenings from then until a May 18 event that celebrated the RBMC’s first full year of existence.

Anthology Film Archives: The First Screenings, 1970

After years of planning, the Anthology Film Archives first opened its doors in New York City towards the end of 1970. That opening came with great interest and fascination of how the world’s first “museum of film” was going to operate like no other theater before it.

Robert Beck Memorial Cinema: The Secret Origin

In 1998, Brian L. Frye was a transplant from San Francisco looking to open a new microcinema in NYC, having been inspired by Craig Baldwin’s Other Cinema at Artists Television Access and David Sherman and Rebecca Barten’s Total Mobile Home.

Happy 95th Birthday, Jonas Mekas!

Happy Birthday to Jonas Mekas! Who turns 95 today! From humble beginnings in a small Lithuanian town, to escaping the Nazis, to arriving in New York City in 1948 to become a champion of the cinema!

A Look Back: The American New Wave 1958-1967

In 1983, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, along with Media Study/Buffalo, created a touring retrospective of avant-garde films, primarily feature-length ones and a few shorts, which they called “The American New Wave 1958-1967.”

EXPRMNTL 3: 1963 Recap

1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.”

Boston Film-Makers’ Cinematheque 1966-67: The Posters

In 1966, as the underground film wave was sweeping the country, a Boston off-shoot of New York City’s Film-Makers’ Cinematheque opened at a performance space at 53 Berkeley Street. Underground films were shown on weeknights, while on the weekends the space transformed into a music venue called The Boston Tea Party.