Jonas Mekas (born December 24, 1922) is a Lithuanian-American filmmaker, poet and artist who has often been called "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema." His work has been exhibited in museums and festivals worldwide.
In 1944, Mekas left Lithuania because of war. En route, his train was stopped in Germany and he and his brother, Adolfas Mekas (1925–2011), were imprisoned in a labor camp in Elmshorn, a suburb of Hamburg, for eight months. The brothers escaped and were detained near the Danish border where they hid on a farm for two months until the end of the war. After the war, Mekas lived in displaced person camps in Wiesbaden and Kassel. From 1946 to 1948, he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz and at the end of 1949, he emigrated with his brother to the U.S., settling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. Two weeks after his arrival, he borrowed the money to buy his first Bolex 16mm camera and began to record moments of his life. He discovered avant-garde film at venues such as Amos Vogel’s pioneering Cinema 16, and he began curating avant-garde film screenings at Gallery East on Avenue A and Houston Street, and a Film Forum series at Carl Fisher Auditorium on 57th Street.
In 1954, together with his brother Adolfas Mekas, he founded Film Culture, and in 1958, began writing his “Movie Journal” column for The Village Voice. In 1962, he co-founded Film-Makers' Cooperative and the Filmmakers' Cinematheque in 1964, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of avant-garde film. He was part of the New American Cinema, with, in particular, fellow film-maker Lionel Rogosin. He was a close collaborator with artists such as Andy Warhol, Nico, Allen Ginsberg, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Salvador Dalí, and fellow Lithuanian George Maciunas...
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