Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Screenings

Anthology Film Archives: Jonas Mekas – Sixty Years In New York

By Mike Everleth ⋅ October 26, 2009

Exterior corner of the Anthology Film Archives

Oct. 30
8:00 p.m.
Anthology Film Archives
2nd Ave at 2nd St.

Hosted by: Anthology Film Archives

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Jonas Mekas‘ arrival in New York City, there will be a special screening of a selection of his short diary videos produced between 1950 and 2003. The lineup of what will be screening is listed below.

Jonas arrived in NYC on Oct. 29, 1949 with his brother Adolfas. The two were transported to this country on an army ship containing two-thousand people displaced by WWII. They had previously been imprisoned in a German work camp from which they escaped and hid from the Nazis near the Danish border for the rest of the war.

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

After their transport docked in Manhattan, the brothers were supposed to travel to Chicago to work in a bakery, jobs that were arranged by the United Nations Refugee Organization. However, they were so immediately enamored by NYC, that they crashed at a friends’ place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and never left the city.

Mekas has gone on to become a major, if not the major, driving force of the American avant-garde film movement in NYC. For several years in the ’60s, he wrote an influential column for the Village Voice called “Movie Journal.” He was also the leading founder of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative distribution center and the Anthology Film Archives.

Regarding his adopted home, Mekas says, “I consider myself a New Yorker in the first place, and only in the second place an American.”

Films screening are:

A Letter to Penny Arcade (2001, 15 minutes, video)
Selfportrait (1970, 20 minutes, video)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1950/2003, 15 minutes, video)
Autobiography of a Man Who Carried His Memory in His Eyes (2000, 50 minutes, video)