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Jonas Mekas 100! program is a joint international collaboration between leading art and cinema organizations, curators and publishers. It celebrates the life and work of Jonas Mekas, one of Lithuania’s most prominent cultural figures of the 20th and 21st centuries and a global cultural phenomenon in his own right, considered by many to be the “godfather of avant-garde cinema”.
This centennial celebration, Jonas Mekas 100!, seeks to expand global recognition of his work and encourage a deeper exploration of Mekas’ prolific contributions to cinema, film criticism, cultural organization, and his body of poems and prose.
The centennial program features over 50 events in an expanding list of countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The vast scope of Mekas’ contribution to global culture is examined through film screenings and retrospectives, exhibitions, readings, workshops, new publications and translations of Mekas’ writings, and concerts celebrating the spirit of his work, among other events.
Lithuanian Film Festival in New Zealand will join the celebration of Jonas Mekas’ centennial year with two films and virtual discussion and a Q&A session after the screening.
IN BETWEEN, Dir. Jonas Mekas (1978, 52 min)
JONAS KEEPS SHOOTING AROUND, Dir. Pip Chodorov (2002, 11min)
Virtual Q&A with Pip Chodorov after the screening.
Pip Chodorov, a filmmaker, curator, Jonas Mekas’ friend:
“Jonas Mekas said that if he lived 100 years old, he would go to the Himalayas, and everyone believed he would actually go. Unfortunately, he left us in 2019 at the age of 96. But in the tradition of the expansive retrospectives that were held on his 70th, 80th and 90th birthdays, we are taking his spirit and artwork across the world to celebrate his centennial.
Jonas Mekas was born on Christmas 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai in the north of Lithuania. Being a poet and involved in his community at a young age, he later found himself conscripted into forced labour in Germany and then a displaced person, banished to America at age 27, where he and his brother Adolfas scraped by as starving immigrant filmmakers. Jonas gravitated to the New York art scene and soon galvanized a young movement of experimental film artists through his writing, programming, filmmaking, and organizing.
In the mid-1950s, he began renting theatres, screening films, and publishing the magazine Film Culture, then distributing films in the early 1960s, and finally, in 1970, Mekas founded a film museum that thrives to this day: the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Throughout the century, he developed and perfected his diary-style of filmmaking, his single-frame techniques and soundtracks collaged from city noise, records, radio, and his emotive voice-over monologues, capturing personal moments of happiness but also historical events in the downtown underground as a chronicler of images, texts, and sounds. In his 80s, Jonas became something of an art star, the sole exhibitor at the Venice Biennale Lithuanian Pavilion in 2005, with exhibitions at prestigious museums around the world such as the Centre Pompidou and the Serpentine Gallery. In his last twenty years, he also published a dozen books that quickly sold out – books of his diaries, poems, dreams, articles, anecdotes, and conversations.
Meanwhile, back in Lithuania, he is fondly remembered as a local poet emeritus and as a force in the Fluxus movement founded by fellow Lithuanian George Maciunas.
Today, Jonas Mekas rests in his native Semeniškiai, Lithuania, but he lives on in cinemas, galleries, readings, and the many events of this centennial celebration of his life and work.”
We invite you to visit jonasmekas.com and jonasmekas100.com for comprehensive information on Jonas Mekas’ biography and works.
Supported by the Lithuanian Foundation and the Lithuanian Society of New Zealand.