Jonas Mekas

Jonas
Mekas

“We do not want rosy films, we want them the color of blood.”

Jonas Mekas is one of the giants of the film world, a member of the cinematic vanguard that has charged headlong into the uncharted territories. Along with Deren, Brakhage, Snow and Jacobs, he has helped shape the face of experimental film in the United States and the world at large.

Films

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    Guns of the Trees
    Experimental
    Narrative

    Guns of the Trees
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, black and white, sound, 75 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, 35mm, DVD PAL
    • psychology_mentalhealth
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    Film Magazine of the Arts
    Experimental

    Film Magazine of the Arts
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 20 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • art_artists
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Visions of Warhol
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Visions of Warhol
    Jonas Mekas

    black and white, silent and sound, 56 min
    Rental format: DVD PAL
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    Jonas Mekas Box Set
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Jonas Mekas Box Set
    Jonas Mekas

    color and b/w, sound, 900 min
    Rental format: DVD PAL
    • Arts / Artists
    • Biography & Autobiography
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Award Presentation to Andy Warhol
    Experimental

    Award Presentation to Andy Warhol
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, black and white, sound, 12 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • art_artists
    • comedy
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    Brig, The
    Experimental

    Brig, The
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, black and white, sound, 68 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, DVD PAL
    • literary_theatre
    • political_socialactivism
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    Report From Millbrook
    Experimental

    Report From Millbrook
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 12 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Cassis
    Experimental

    Cassis
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 4.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • landscape_architecture
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Hare Krishna
    Experimental

    Hare Krishna
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
    • Spiritual / Mystical
    • Beat Era
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    Notes On The Circus
    Experimental

    Notes On The Circus
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 12 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Italian Notebook, The
    Experimental

    Italian Notebook, The
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, silent, 14.75 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Time & Fortune Vietnam Newsreel
    Experimental

    Time & Fortune Vietnam Newsreel
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • political_socialactivism
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    Walden
    Experimental

    Walden
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 180 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Walden: Reel 1
    Experimental

    Walden: Reel 1
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 43 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Walden: Reel 2
    Experimental

    Walden: Reel 2
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 40 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Walden: Reel 3
    Experimental

    Walden: Reel 3
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 49 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Walden: Reel 4
    Experimental

    Walden: Reel 4
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 45 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
    Experimental

    Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 82 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 1
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 1
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 32 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 178 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 2
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 2
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 30 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 3
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 3
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, black and white, sound, 35 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 4
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 4
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 25 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 5
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 5
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 29 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 6
    Experimental

    Lost, Lost, Lost: Reel 6
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 27 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    In Between: 1964-68
    Experimental

    In Between: 1964-68
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 52 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Notes For Jerome
    Experimental

    Notes For Jerome
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 45 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, DVD NTSC
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    Paradise Not Yet Lost (a/k/a Oona's Third Year)
    Experimental

    Paradise Not Yet Lost (a/k/a Oona's Third Year)
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 96.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Scenes of the Life Of Andy Warhol
    Experimental

    Scenes of the Life Of Andy Warhol
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 36 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Cup/Saucer/Two Dancers/Radio
    Experimental

    Cup/Saucer/Two Dancers/Radio
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 23 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • dance
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    Street Songs
    Experimental

    Street Songs
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, black and white, sound, 10.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Political / Social Activism
    • Literarature & Theater
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    He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life
    Experimental

    He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 150 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Mob of Angels: Baptism
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Mob of Angels: Baptism
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 61 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • music
    • personal_diary_journal
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    The Sixties Quartet
    Documentary
    Experimental

    The Sixties Quartet
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 129 min
    Rental format: DVD PAL
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Zefiro Torna or Scenes From the Life of Scenes From the Life of George Maciumas
    Experimental

    Zefiro Torna or Scenes From the Life of Scenes From the Life of George Maciumas
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, sound, 35 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Imperfect 3-Image Films
    Experimental

    Imperfect 3-Image Films
    Jonas Mekas

    16mm, color, silent, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Happy Birthday to John
    Experimental

    Happy Birthday to John
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 24 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Birth of a Nation
    Experimental

    Birth of a Nation
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 85 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • art_artists
    • filmsaboutfilm
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Notes on the Factory
    Experimental

    Notes on the Factory
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 63 min
    Rental formats: DVD NTSC, DVD PAL
    • art_artists
    • biography
    • personal_diary_journal
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    This Side of Paradise
    Experimental

    This Side of Paradise
    Jonas Mekas

    color and b/w, sound, 35 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Diary Entry: Father and Daughter
    Experimental

    Diary Entry: Father and Daughter
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 3 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • personal_diary_journal
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    A Letter to Penny Arcade
    Experimental

    A Letter to Penny Arcade
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 15 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • biography
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Williamsburg, Brooklyn
    Experimental

    Williamsburg, Brooklyn
    Jonas Mekas

    color and b/w, silent, 15 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Landscape / Architecture
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Notes on Utopia
    Experimental

    Notes on Utopia
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 55 min
    Rental format: DVD PAL
    • biography
    • personal_diary_journal
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    Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 4 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • history
    • personal_diary_journal
    • political_socialactivism
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    Sleepless Nights Stories
    Experimental
    Narrative

    Sleepless Nights Stories
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 114 min
    Rental formats: DVD NTSC, DVD PAL, Digi Beta PAL
    • Arts / Artists
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 22 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • History
    • Personal / Diary / Journal
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    Out-Takes from the Life of a Happy Man
    Documentary
    Experimental

    Out-Takes from the Life of a Happy Man
    Jonas Mekas

    color, sound, 68 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • Biography & Autobiography
    • Family
    • History
    • Personal / Diary / Journal

Biography

He is regarded as "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema" and is one of the founding members of both The Film-Makers' Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives, as well as being a lauded film critic and a filmmaker. He has been consistently making films since the 1960's and has had his works shown all across the globe.

Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Two months after his arrival in New York he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon got deeply involved in the American Avant-Garde film movement. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, which soon became the most important film publication in the US. In 1958 he began his legendary Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers' Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avant-garde cinema, and a screening venue.

During all this time he continued writing poetry and making films. To this date he has published more than 20 books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His Lithuanian poetry is now part of Lithuanian classic literature and his films can be found in leading museums around the world. He is largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Mekas has also been active as an academic, teaching at the New School for Social Research, the International Center for Photography, Cooper Union, New York University, and MIT.

Mekas' film The Brig was awarded the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1963. Other films include Walden (1969), Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972), Lost Lost Lost (1975), Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990), Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), As I was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000), Letter from Greenpoint (2005), Sleepless Nights Stories (2011) and Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man. In 2007, he completed a series of 365 short films released on the internet -- one film every day -- and since then has continued to share new work on his website.

Since 2000, Mekas has expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Venice Biennale.

Archive

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    40:04

    MM Serra and David Weinstein interview with Jonas Mekas