Centennial Celebration of Jonas Mekas
Curated by MM Serra, filmmaker, Executive director of Film-Makers
Centennial Celebration of Jonas Mekas
Curated by MM Serra, filmmaker, Executive director of Film-Makers
REEL POETICS: JONAS MEKAS & HIS CINEMATIC CIRCLE
May 14th, 2022 at 3pm
Three programs that will consist of one of Jonas Mekas’ feature films that speaks to his mission of personal cinema. He believed that everyone could and should create a film. Each title will be paired with a different filmmaker whose radical or visionary work Jonas invited into the FMC collection in order to ensure the visibility that he believed these masterpieces of cinema deserve. Curated by MM Serra
““We do not need perfection! We need nervous breakdowns” ~ J.M.
MM Serra – Introduction
Tales of Visions of Community with MM Serra: T Jonas with Love (2021), digital, 9 mins.
To Jonas With Love: We find MM Serra at 181 Mott Street – an art gallery in the heart of Soho. The last day of the exhibition: To Jonas, With Love, curated by Chuck Smith, Film Maker of Barbara Rubin and the Exploding New York Underground, Producer and the close friend of MM and Jonas Mekas. Through conversation MM and Chuck share their stories of Jonas Mekas, the founder of The New American Cinema Group and arguably one of the more prominent/commercialized experimental filmmakers of the underground film society. He was and is the great connector to the artist who came together to support one another in the underground. Through B Roll of the exhibition and footage from Jonas Mekas’s film excerpts and filmmakers discussed, Barbara Ruben, Marie Menken, MM Serra, Jack Waters, personal footage from friends and family – we get our first crash course in the history of the experimental film community. A collaboration with Emily Singer.
Jonas Mekas, Outtakes from The Life of a Happy Man (2012), digital, color, sound, 68 mins.
A motion picture composed of brief diaristic scenes not used in completed films from the years 1960-2000; and self-referential video footage taped during the editing. Brief glimpses of family, friends, girl-friends, the City, seasons of the year, travels. Occasionally I talk, reminisce, or play music I taped during those earlier years, plus more recent piano improvisations by Auguste Varkalis. It’s a kind of autobiographical, diaristic poem, a celebration of happiness and life. I consider myself a happy man. – J.M.
Edward Owens, Remembrance: A Portrait Study (1967), digital, 6 minutes
A filmic portrait of the artist’s mother, Mildered Owens, and her friends Irene Collins and Nettie Thomas, set to a score of 50s and 60s hit songs. Using Baroque lighting techniques, Owens captures the three women drinking and lounging one evening.
Edward Owens, Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts (1968–70), digital, 6 minutes,
Both were shot in Chicago, and bring his formidable repertoire of techniques to bear upon nonfictional subject matter: his own family and their circle.
Jun 11th, 2022 at 3pm
Jonas Mekas, Sleepless Night Stories (2011), color, sound, 114 minutes.
“For two hours we stroll with Jonas Mekas through New York nights, through apartments, studios, backstage rooms, bars and clubs. We meet old acquaintances like Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Carolee Schneemann, Marina Abramovic, friends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and also many new acquaintances. The father of the diary film begins with the words ‘I can’t sleep.’ Who hasn’t been in that situation. Sleepy and yet wide awake, you find yourself in the world of those exhausted from the day’s exertions. In Sleepless Nights Stories we witness (approximately) 25 tales from a thousand and one nights – remnants of films by one of the greatest avant-garde filmmakers whose life rewrote film history”–Berlinale 2011. “SLEEPLESS NIGHTS STORIES originated from my readings of the One Thousand and One Nights. But unlike the Arabian tales, my stories are all from real life, though at times they too wander into somewhere else, beyond the everyday routine reality. There are some twenty-five different stories in my movie. Their protagonists are all my good friends and I myself am an inseparable part of the stories. The storyteller of the Arabian Nights was also part of his or her tales. Some of the people in the movie you’ll recognize, some not. The fact that some of them you’ll recognize has no bearing on the stories: after all, we all recognize John Wayne or Annette Benning, but in their stories they are no longer the people we know. The subjects of the stories cover a wide range of emotions, geographies, personal anxieties, and anecdotes. These are not very big stories, not for the Big Screen: these are all personal big stories . . . And yes, you’ll also find some provocations . . . But that’s me, one “me” of many. The very question “What is a story?” is a provocative question. LOCATIONS AND CAST – [INTRO] Staff of . . . Masters [STORY 1 – THE STORY OF MARINA] Marina Abramovic, Chrissie Iles [STORY 2 – THE STORY OF CAROLEE] Sebastian Mekas, Benn Northover, Carolee Schneemann [STORY 3 – THE STORY OF GREENPOINT] Ken Jacobs, Florence Jacobs [STORY 4 – THE STORY OF THE LIZARD OF LUCCA] Sebastian Mekas [STORY 5] Louise Bourgeois [STORY 6] Yoko Ono [STORY 7 – THE STORY OF DOUBT] Phong Bui, Raimond Abraham, Nathalie Provosty [STORY 8 – THE STORY OF LEFTY] Harmony Korine, Rachel Korine (Simon), Lefty Korine [STORY 9 – JEAN-JACQUES GIVES GOOD ADVICE TO HIS FRIENDS] Jean-Jacques Lebel, Hans Ulrich Obrist [STORY 10 – THE STORY OF LOUIS] Louis Garrel, Sebastian Mekas, Benn Northover [STORY 11] Sebastian Mekas, Luxemburg Guy, Pip Chodorov, Benn Northover [STORY 12] Raimond Abraham, Dodo, Violinist [STORY 13 – THE STORY OF THE TREE] Benn Northover, Sebastian Mekas, Hopi Lebel, Kristijonas Kucinskas, Tomas [STORY 14] Sebastian Mekas, Benn Northover, Pip Chodorov [STORY 15 – THE STORY OF PEEKSKILL] Dalius Naujokaitis, Audrius Naujokaitis, Jonas Lozoraitis [STORY 16 – THE STORY OF AMY, OR WHY NORMAL PEOPLE SING IN MIDDLE CLASS VOICES] Dalius Naujokaitis [STORY 17 – THE STORY OF LEE] Lee Stringer [STORY 18 – THE STORY OF ARTAUD] Jean-Jacques Label, Sebastian Mekas, Benn Northover, Hopi Lebel, Pip Chodorov [STORY 19] Patti Smith, Benn Northover [STORY 20 – THE STORY OF DIANE AND PIRANESI] Raimond Abraham, Phong Bui, Diane Lewis, Nathalie Provotsy, Pip Chodorov, Sebastian Mekas [STORY 21] Sebastian Mekas, Kristijonas Kucinskas [STORY 22] Dalius Naujokaitis [STORY 23 – FLUXUS VIOLIN] [STORY 24 – THE STORY OF THE WOODS OF MY CHILDHOOD] French Children [STORY 25] Adolfas Mekas, Oona Mekas [STORY 26] Bjork Gudmundsdottir
Storm De Hirsch Peyote Queen (1965), color, sound, 6 minutes.
An exploration into the color of ritual, the color of thought; a journey through the underworld of sensory derangement. “Among my favorites … beauty and excitement.” – Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice.
WE DO NOT WANT ROSY FILMS, WE WANT THEM THE COLOR OF BLOOD.
Jul 9th, 2022 at 3pm
Jonas Mekas, Awards Presentation to Andy Warhol (1964) B&W, Sound, 12 min
Photographed by Jonas Mekas and Gregory Markopolous.
“The Independent Film Award for 1964 is presented to Andy Warhol. We see Andy among his leading stars, Baby Jane Holzer, Gerry Malanga, Ivy Nicholsen, and we see the the editor of Film Culture, Jonas Mekas, presenting the award: a basket of fruit – mushrooms, carrots and apples, bananas – which then, they all eat with great pleasure.” –J.M.
“I can recall seeing only one Warhol film which was wholly pastoral and unneurotic in feeling, which contained or provoked none of these or other disturbing implications; and that turned out not to be a Warhol film at all, as I thought at the time, but a kind of homage, by Jonas Mekas, to Warhol – really a work of Mekas’ own sensibility though seemingly in the official Warhol style. When I saw AWARD PRESENTATION I was hung for days on the kind of imagination revolutionary enough at once to conceive of a film as something so simple and to make that simplicity so pleasurable.” – James Stoller, Film Quarterly
Jonas Mekas, Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1982), 36 minutes
Music: Velvet Underground, recorded in 1966. Opening segment taped at the Dom at the public performance with Nico. End section: Mass for Andy Warhol at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The film is made up of my film diaries related to Andy Warhol from the years 1965-1982. Locations are New York and Montauk: The Factory, house of George Maciunas, village gate, psychiatrist’s convention, home of Stephen Shore, Warhol Estate, Montauk, etc. The “cast” includes Lou Reed, Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Gerard Malanga, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Barbara Rubin, Tuli Kupferberg, Peter Orlovsky, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, George Maciunas, Vincent Friemont, Henry Geldzahler, Paul Morrissey, Karen Lerner, Jay Lerner, Peter Beard, John Kennedy Jr., Lee Radziwill, Tina Radziwill, Anthony Radziwill, D’Allessandro, Caroline Kennedy, Mick Jagger, Jade Jagger and many others. Completed in June, 1990.
Barbara Rubin & The Exploding NY Underground (2018) A Film by Chuck Smith
78 minutes including clips from Christmas on Earth (1963) by Barbara Rubin.
Barbara Rubin’s twenty-nine-minute experimental film ‘Christmas on Earth’ caused a sensation when it first screened in New York City in 1963. Its orgy scenes, double projections and overlapping images shattered artistic conventions and announced a powerful new voice in the city’s underground film scene. All the more remarkable that the vision belonged to an 18-year-old girl. A virtual Zelig of the ’60s, Barbara Rubin introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan to Kabbalah and bewitched Allen Ginsberg. The same unbridled creativity that inspired her to make films when women simply didn’t, saw her breach yet another male domain, Orthodox Judaism, before her mysterious death at thirty-five years old. Life-long friend Jonas Mekas saved all her letters, creating a rich archive that film-maker Chuck Smith carefully sculpts into this fascinating portrait of a nearly forgotten artist. An avant-garde maverick, a rebel in a man’s world, Barbara Rubin regains her rightful place in film history.
“Smith’s Doc shows how a young woman changed the culture by influencing Warhol, Dylan, Ginsberg and Reed.. it’s a hell of a ride!” NOW Magazine.
About MM Serra:
MM Serra is an experimental film/videomaker who has produced, directed, and edited more than fourteen works. Her own work, as well as her curated programs, have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York; The Centre Georges Pompidou and the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris; the London Film Festival, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and the Dresden Film Fest in Germany. Serra has been the Executive Director of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York City since 1991 and has curated several exhibition programs in New York and Europe.
This program is made possible with the support of the Lithuanian Cultural Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts
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