Close Up

27 - 29 May 2016: Close-Up on Jonas Mekas

America's leading voice of avant-garde filmmaking, founder of the Anthology Film Archive (the world's leading repository of avant-garde film), Jonas Mekas is a filmmaker, writer and passionate advocate for cinema. A Lithuanian, arriving in New York in flight from war-torn Europe, he launched into a long career of starting film magazines, film screenings and writing about the experimental and avant-garde cinema. Mekas' highly personal film diaries recorded many of the "underground" events from the 1950s to the 80s as well as his own life, creating a unique body of work that is both a record of those eventful years and remarkable film poetry.

The season will end with Julius Ziz homage to Mekas, Meanwhile a Butterfly Flies, who will attend the screening for Q&A.

Award Presentation to Andy Warhol
Jonas Mekas
1963 | 12 min | B/W | 16mm

Dec. 7, 1964: Andy Warhol receives the independent filmmakers' award. The award, from Film Culture magazine, was for Sleep, Haircut, Eat, Kiss and Empire. The event took place at the New Yorker Theatre on 89th Street and Broadway. The original idea was to show some of Warhol's films, and then present him with the award onstage. However, Warhol did not want a public presentation so Jonas Mekas filmed him at the Factory and then showed the film at the New Yorker Theatre ceremony. read more

Jonas Mekas
1969 | 180 min | Colour | 16mm

"Since 1950 I have been keeping a film diary. I have been walking around with my Bolex and reacting to the immediate reality: situations, friends, New York, seasons of the year. On some days I shoot ten frames, on others ten seconds, still on others ten minutes. Or I shoot nothing.... Walden contains material from the years 1964-1968 strung together in chronological order." – Jonas Mekas read more

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
Jonas Mekas
1972 | 82 min | Colour & B/W | 16mm

"This film consists of three parts. The first part is made up of footage I shot with my first Bolex during my first years in America, mostly from 1950-1953… The second part was shot in August 1971, in Lithuania. Almost all of the footage come from Semeniskiai, the village I was born in… The third part begins with a parenthesis in Elmshorn, a suburb of Hambourg, where we spent a year in forced labour camp during the war. After the parenthesis closes, we are in Vienna where we see some of my best friend – Peter Kubelka, Hermann Nitsch, Annette Michelson, Ken Jacobs… The sound: I talk during much of the film, reminiscing about this and that. Mostly it's about myself, as a Displaced Person, my relation to home, Memory, Culture, Up-rootedness, Childhood." – Jonas Mekas read more

Lost Lost Lost
Jonas Mekas
1976 | 180 min | B/W | & Colour | 16mm

"The period I am dealing with in these six reels was a period of desperation, of attempts to desperately grow roots into the new ground, create new memories. In these six painful reels I tried to indicate how it feels to be an exile, how I felt in those years. They describe the mood of a Displaced Person who hasn't yet forgotten his native country but hasn't yet gained a new one. The sixth reel is a transitional reel where we begin to see some relaxation, where I begin to find moments of happiness. New life begins…" – Jonas Mekas read more

Zefiro Torna
Jonas Mekas
1992 | 34 min | Colour | 16mm

"Images from the life of George Maciunas. Includes footage I took of George in 1952, at his parents' house, with his father and mother and sister Nijole. Bits of Fluxus events and performances, and picnics with friends (Almus, Andy Warhol, John Lenon, Yoko Ono, etc.); George's wedding and footage I took of him in Boston Hospital three days before he died." – Jonas Mekas read more

This Side of Paradise
Jonas Mekas
1999 | 35 min | Colour & B/W | 16mm

"The images in this film, with a few exceptions, all come from the summers Caroline and John Jr. spent in Montauk, with their cousins Anthony and Tina Radziwill, in an old house Lee had rented from Andy Warhol, for a few summers. Andy himself spent many of his weekends there, in one of the cottages, as did Peter Beard, whom the children had adopted almost like their older brother or a father they missed. These were summers of happiness, joy and continuous celebrations of life and friendships. These were days of Little Fragments of Paradise." – Jonas Mekas read more

Meanwhile a Butterfly Flies
Julius Ziz
2002 | 52 min | Colour | Digital

Julius Ziz's poetic documentary is an intimate homage to his friend Jonas Mekas. Julius Ziz born in Lithuania now works and lives in Paris. He graduated from the Film Academy in Tbilisi before moving to New York, where he worked with Jonas Mekas at the Anthology Film Archives. Ziz will attend the screening for Q&A. read more

We would like to thank Louis Benassi for his help in making this programme possible.