Underground Film Journal

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Happy 92nd Birthday, Jonas Mekas!

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 24, 2014

Hey, if it’s Christmas Eve, then it’s time to celebrate the birthday of a very jolly ol’ soul, Jonas Mekas, the Godfather of Underground Film. Face it, without Jonas promoting the underground as fiercely as he did back in the ’60s, then most of us who are into this unique art form probably wouldn’t be here celebrating it, much less making it. So, here’s to you Jonas, who turns 92 today!

Jonas Mekas giving an interview while standing on Wooster St. in New York City

The above embedded video is an excerpt from a 1992 documentary by Lars Movin called The Misfits: 30 Years of Fluxus. In the clip, Jonas discusses one of his favorite subjects, his best friend, the late artist George Maciunas, who helped co-found the Filmmakers Cinematheque in 1967 at 80 Wooster Street in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. The Cinematheque was the foundation of what was eventually to become the Anthology Film Archives, which — like Jonas — is currently going strong at 2nd and 2nd in the East Village.

It’s nice to see Jonas be so enthusiastic about his friend and about the transformative power Maciunas wielded to make SoHo into an arts district that still carries on that tradition somewhat with the Cinematheque’s address now housing an art gallery that we see in this clip. But, that’s Jonas, always thinking and waxing rhapsodic about somebody else’s accomplishments.

So, today, we celebrate you, Jonas, and all you have done for the art film community. Happy Birthday. Happy Holidays. And we wish you an astounding New Year.