Underground Film Journal

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Happy 89th Birthday, Jonas Mekas!

If it’s Christmas Eve, that can only mean one thing: It’s Jonas Mekas‘ birthday! He turns 89 today. The legendary underground film diarist and activist was born on this day in 1922 in Semeniskiai, Lithuania. From humble, faraway beginnings, Mekas would of course later land in New York City in 1949 and change the course of artistic cinema forever. To celebrate Mekas’ special day, watch an excerpt from one of his recent works, My Mars Bar Movie, a reminiscence of an NYC hangout.

In the ’50s, Mekas would found the magazine Film Culture with his brother Adolfas, become the official film reviewer for the Village Voice and host avant-garde film screenings in the city. But, Mekas kicked the underground into high gear in the ’60s by helping craft the New American Cinema Manifesto, forming the Film-makers Cooperative, getting arrested for screening “obscene” films like Jack Smith‘s Flaming Creatures and, in the ’70s, help found the Anthology Film Archives.

Pretty girl sitting by herself at a bar

And Mekas is still going strong having just screened his latest work, Sleepless Nights Stories, at the Anthology just this past week. He has gallery shows, attends screenings of his films all over the world, keeps a blog and still makes movies.

So, while you’re celebrating the holiday with your loved ones, offer up a toast to Jonas Mekas whom we all owe an invaluable debt of gratitude.

Happy Birthday, Jonas!