Exhibitions: Centennial Celebration of Jonas Mekas

Centennial Celebration of Jonas Mekas

Curated by MM Serra, filmmaker, Executive director of Film-Makers


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


Part I:

 ““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.

Poetic Vision of Jonas Mekas

Jun 11th, 2022


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.


Third Eye Butterfly. (1968) double screen, color, sound, 10 minutes.
Where is the light coming from? The flavor of the colors are succulent to the long vision in the soul. How can dust cover the arrows of light? How can darkness favor oblivion in the face of light? The variations of soul-touch exist in the auras of illumination. The Great Eye dominates. –S. D. H.


Jul 9th, 2022


Jonas Mekas, As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty 

Compiled from Mekas’ home movies, the film is an attempt by the director to re-construct his life through various home movies filmed over a period of about 30 years. Events shown in the film are things such as birthdays and picnics, as well as more landmark personal events such as the first steps of his children. “The film was “a first — the home movie as epic”. The New York Times review


Barbara Rubin Christmas on Earth (1963), black and white, silent, 30 minutes.

“A study in genital differentiation and psychic tumult.” –Candy O’ Brien “What you will be renting now is just what was filmed, uncut, unedited. Projection instructions: The film remains on two reels (A and B), requiring two projectors, to be projected simultaneously at sound speed. The film on the first projector fills the screen, while the image on the second projector is approximately one half smaller and fills the middle of the screen, superimposing on the first image. This can be done either by using different lenses, or by placing one projector closer to the screen. They begin simultaneously, though due to slight differences in speed of each projector, they end slightly differently. I’ve added black leader to compensate for that. When both images are off, turn projectors off. I suggest if possible to use two of the same kind of projectors, and check them before projection. I also suggest that since this is the first time of veiwing this, to put Reel A on the largest screen, and Reel B on the inner, smaller screen, making sure each film is being projected heads out. To complete the cycle, a radio must be hooked up to a PA system, with a nice cross-section of psychic tumult like an AM rock station, turned on and played loud. Also (optional) color gels may be used in front of the projector and moved and alternated by hand during the film. PLEASE return this film as it was sent to you, whole. Thank you, Barbara Rubin. P.s., PLEASE PROJECT MY FILM IN THE IMAGE IN WHICH IT WAS CREATED– i.e. EXACTLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROJECTION INSTRUCTIONS!” –B.R.

with music by DJ Emily Singer.

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