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Reminiscences of a Journey: A Tribute to Jonas Mekas

Reminiscences of a Journey: A Tribute to Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas, Dec 2017, by David E. James

The UCLA Film & Television Archive and Los Angeles Filmforum present

Reminiscences of a Journey: A Tribute to Jonas Mekas

Sunday, November 3, 2019, 7:00pm

At the UCLA Film & Television Archive Billy Wilder Theatre, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

In person guests include: David E. James, Oona Mekas

The importance of Jonas Mekas to the world of American independent and experimental film cannot be overestimated.  Reaching the United States after World War II with his brother Adolfas, Mekas would, over the next seventy years, become a critical figure in exhibiting, distributing, and reviewing experimental films, organizing the New York scene, and by extension, establishing the society in which avant-garde film culture is created and appreciated to this day.  His death earlier this year at age 96, shortly after completing two books for publication, marked the end of a generation, especially as it was so shortly followed by the deaths of Barbara Hammer and Carolee Schneemann. Over the course of decades, while also being co-founder of the distributor Film-makers Coop, founder of Anthology Film Archive, film reviewer for the Village Voice, editor of Film Culture, poet, filmmaker, and more, Mekas made a larger number of films, mostly in a diary vein.  Overall he called his films “Diaries, Notes and Sketches”.  Tonight’s tribute includes three examples, “Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” a more recent video piece that also includes some of his earliest footage from the 1950s; part one of “Walden” which also includes the short film “Notes on the Circus”  and “Cassis”, and his feature film Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, along with comments from his daughter Oona Mekas,  scholar David E. James and more.

Tickets: $10 advance, $9 general in-person, $8 students with ID, seniors free for Filmforum members & UCLA Students with ID. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at https://www.cinema.ucla.edu/events or at the door.  Los Angeles Filmforum members receive free admission at the box office!

For more information: www.lafilmforum.org or 323-377-7238

Williamsburg Brooklyn 2 smaller

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

2003, video, color & b/w, silent, 15 min.

A pocket-sized city symphony, WILLIAMSBURG collects some of the first images Jonas Mekas shot with a film camera in 1950 (along with footage from 1972 when he was returning to his old neighborhood as a visitor). Bygone Brooklyn is richly evoked in the everyday life of the street: the elevated train, Lithuanian storefronts and especially in the faces of children surprised to encounter this man with a movie camera. - Max Goldberg

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Walden, Reel 1

Walden, Reel 1

1969, 16mm, color, sound, 43 min.

Filmed in 1964-68. Edited in 1968-69. Walden was Mekas' first diary film, and it was edited as a collection of images gathered between the years 1964 and 1969. Its original title was Diaries, Notes, Sketches, which was the intended name for all of his films (they would each have different subtitles), though when it became too confusing for film laboratories to distinguish between films, Mekas abandoned the practice. He still kept Diaries, Notes, Sketches as a subtitle in Walden, Lost Lost Lost, and In Between, and the name is often used to designate his entire film oeuvre. The sketches in Walden refer to various films that, edited previously, were later included in Walden: Report from Millbrook (1965/1966), Hare Krishna (1966), Notes on the Circus (1966), and Cassis (1966) all occur within the film. "New York in spring; Tony Conrad; Bibbie in Central Park; A Wedding; Breakfast in Marseilles; Cassis; Sitney leaves New Haven; Fire on 87th Street; Brakhage crosses Central Park; Carl Th. Dreyer; A trip to Millbrook; Flowers for Marie Menken; Gregory Markopolous shoots 'Galaxie'; Notes on the Circus." – J.M.

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Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

1972, 16mm, color, sound, 82 min.

The film consists of three parts. The first part is made up of footage I shot with my first Bolex, during my first years in America, mostly from 1950-1953. It shows me and my brother Adolfas, how we looked in those days; miscellaneous footage of immigrants in Brooklyn, picnicking, dancing, singing; the streets of Williamsburg. The second part was shot in August 1971, in Lithuania. Almost all of the footage comes from Semeniskiai, the village I was born in. You see the old house, my mother (born 1887), all the brothers, goofing, celebrating our homecoming. You don't really see how Lithuania is today: you see it only through the memories of a Displaced Person back home for the first time in twenty-five years. The third part begins with a parenthesis in Elmshorn, a suburb of Manburg, where we spent a year in a forced labor camp during the war. After the parenthesis closes, we are in Vienna where we see some of my best friends - Peter Kubelka, Hermann Nitsch, Annette Michelson, Ken Jacobs. The film ends with the burning of the Vienna fruit market, August, 1971.