Showing posts with label Jonas Mekas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jonas Mekas. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2019

Patti Smith, John Zorn and Jim Jarmusch headline tribute to Jonas Mekas at City Winery

Jonas Mekas the filmmaker, writer, poet, curator, historian as well as co-founder of the Anthology Film Archives on Second Street and Second Avenue, died on Jan. 23. He was 96.

This coming Thursday (Feb. 21), City Winery is presenting a celebration of his life and work.

Here are details:

The event will highlight the many aspects of Mekas’ remarkable life as an internationally-acclaimed creative visionary who left behind a body of work that includes film, poetry, prose, and photography, and will include screenings, readings, and musical performances.

Scheduled to perform are musicians Patti Smith, John Zorn, Richard Barone, David Amram, Lee Ranaldo, Glenn Mercer (The Feelies), Jim Jarmusch, Amy Taubin and special guests to be announced.

Jonas Mekas was a force of nature. Regarded as "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”, his influence in art and cinema reverberates all across the globe. His joyful creative energy and fascination with life was an inspiration to all who knew him, and he will continue to inspire new generations through his writings and film legacy. On this night we celebrate Jonas’s remarkable life and work in words, music, and films.

Proceeds will go to benefit Anthology Film Archives, continuing Jonas's work in the preservation, restoration, and exhibition of independent and avant-garde cinema from around the world.

This link has ticket info. City Winery is at 155 Varick St.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A memorial for Jonas Mekas outside the Anthology Film Archives

There's a makeshift memorial for Jonas Mekas outside the Anthology Film Archives on Second Street at Second Avenue. Mekas, the filmmaker, writer, poet, curator, historian as well as co-founder of the Anthology, died yesterday morning. He was 96.

Steven shared these photos...

Here are several links for more on Mekas and his impact on cinema...

Jonas Mekas: how a Lithuanian refugee redefined American cinema (The Guardian)

Jonas Mekas, Underground Filmmaker Who Cast A Long Shadow, Dies At 96 (NPR)

Jonas Mekas, RIP: Why This 96-Year-Old Legend Was Our Most Important Cinephile (IndieWire)

And among his many, many works... "My Mars Bar Movie," an 87-minute documentary on one of the filmmaker's favorite bars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

RIP Jonas Mekas

[Image via Facebook]

Jonas Mekas, the award-winning filmmaker, poet, publisher and co-founder of the Anthology Film Archives on Second Street and Second Avenue, died today. He was 96.

The Anthology announced the news on Instagram and Facebook: "Jonas passed away quietly and peacefully early this morning. He was at home with family. He will be greatly missed but his light shines on."

In 1954, he co-founded the seminal publication Film Culture. He was also the first film critic of The Village Voice, where he championed noncommercial work from 1958 to 1975 in the "Movie Journal" column.

Here are a few passages from the intro of an interview with The Village Voice in September 2017...

Born in Lithuania, Mekas first came to New York in 1949 as a refugee; he had been imprisoned by the Nazis, then found himself stateless after the Soviets invaded. Plunging himself into the underground film scene, he became the Village Voice’s first full-time film critic in 1958 ... fervently championing independent and experimental cinema.

Mekas didn’t just write about movies. He made them, he showed them, and it would be fair to say he lived them. Much of his prolific cinematic output was built around footage of his everyday life. (Start with his masterpieces — "Walden,' from 1969; "Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania," from 1972; "Lost, Lost, Lost," from 1975; and "As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Glimpses of Beauty," from 2000.)

By founding the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque in the 1960s, he made it possible for underground filmmakers to bypass traditional distribution schemes. The Cinematheque eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, which continues to be one of New York’s essential screening venues.

But the past tense doesn’t fit Mekas. He still makes films; he still writes, teaches, programs, and champions. This man who worked with Andy Warhol and John Lennon and Lou Reed and Maya Deren might be the least nostalgic person I’ve ever encountered. And he remains more excited than discouraged by what he sees in the world — even when he’s perplexed by it.

Several filmmakers have paid their respect to Mekas... (We'll update this post later...)


The Anthology added a second Instagram post about Mekas, which reads in part:

Jonas was the guiding force here at Anthology from its founding through to the present day, and even as he reached the age of 96 the idea that he might not be here in person to continue to inspire us has been inconceivable. But Jonas was nothing if not forward thinking, large spirited, and devoted in every fiber of his being to celebrating what is most vibrant in life and culture.

His work as a filmmaker, artist, writer, and archivist (among many other roles) was animated precisely by a powerful, paradoxical balance between a preoccupation with the past and an inexhaustible openness to new ideas, forms, and experiences. What better model for confronting the fact of his passing, for balancing sorrow at his death with a celebration of the vitality of his legacy?

His absence will be difficult to accept, but his spirit will continue to suffuse Anthology, New York City, and avant-garde culture around the world.

Updated 1/24

There's a makeshift memorial for Mekas outside the Anthology Film Archives on Second Street at Second Avenue ... Steven shared thee photos...

Selected reading:

Jonas Mekas: how a Lithuanian refugee redefined American cinema (The Guardian)

Jonas Mekas, Underground Filmmaker Who Cast A Long Shadow, Dies At 96 (NPR)

Jonas Mekas, RIP: Why This 96-Year-Old Legend Was Our Most Important Cinephile (IndieWire)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

'My Mars Bar Movie' back for 2 encore presentations, including tonight

"My Mars Bar Movie," the 87-minute documentary directed by Jonas Mekas, the acclaimed filmmaker-poet-writer-curator (His full bio is here.) ... makes a return engagement to the Anthology Film Archives ... there's a screening tonight at 7:30. The film will play again on Feb. 24 at 4:45.

Here's a description of the film via Mekas:

For some twenty years Mars Bar, on the corner of First Street and Second Avenue, Manhattan, has been my bar. That's where we went for beer and tequila whenever we had to take a break from our work at Anthology Film Archives, and it was also a bar where most of those who came to see movies at Anthology ended up after the shows. We always had a great time at Mars Bar. It was always open, there was always the juke box, and very often there was no electricity, and it was old and messy and it didn't want to be any other way — it was the last escape place left in downtown New York. So this is my love letter to it, to my Mars Bar. Mars Bar as I knew it.

Take a step back ...

The Mars Bar closed on July 19, 2011. But maybe it will come back somewhere nearby one day.

The Anthology is on East Second Street and Second Avenue.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jonas Mekas on the Mars Bar

As we pointed out on Monday, "My Mars Bar Movie," the 87-minute documentary directed by Jonas Mekas, opens tomorrow at the Anthology Film Archives.

Mekas, who is 90, talked about the film and Mars Bar in The Wall Street Journal today. Here's an excerpt from the Q-and-A (I believe it is subscription only to access the piece):

Every city needs some messy, dirty place where you can go and lose yourself and leave some of your dirt there. Paris has. Hamburg has. New York does not have it anymore. This area had Mars Bar. Now it's gone. Now New York is cleaner but not for the better.

And the best thing about the Mars Bar?

You felt very free. The drinks were cheap in price and very often cheap in quality. But you didn't care. It was very open. You always saw the same people, very devoted to the place. From South America, there was this guy Hamlet, who was always there. It made you feel a little bit like home. There was something like a family feeling.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Revival planned for church and theater on Avenue B

As you may recall in July we did two reports on the former evangelical church/historical theater on Avenue B between 11th Street and 12th Street...A fire nearly destroyed the building in October 2006.

It was a movie theater for many years, first the Bijou, then the Charles. (The theater closed in 1975.)

There's good news on the space in this week's issue of The Villager. Not only is the Elim Pentecostal Church renovating the space for a house of worship, there are plans to revive the movie theater as well. (Check out the photos an EV Grieve reader got from inside the building.)

In addition, the church is fixing up two storefronts along Avenue B. The owner of Continuum Cycles up the street plans to lease the larger space.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Inside the Charles
Former landmark countercultural theater now for rent on Avenue B

Friday, July 31, 2009

Inside the Charles

Yesterday, I did a piece on the former evangelical church/historical theater (the Bijou, then the Charles) on Avenue B that's now for rent.

An EV Grieve reader was able to get some photos inside the old theater. The reader noted that it looked as if many of the original features were still in place.

A few other observations from the reader: There's a bit of a musty smell -- likely the effects from the fire that started on the Avenue B side in October 2006. The back part, where the main theater/church is, looks to have escaped any damage.

After the theater closed, Pastor Carlos's uncle bought the building in 1975. It has been a church since then.

As the reader notes, "Pastor Carlos said he that plans to see if he can raise some funds to fix the place up and continue his church and community work. I hope he succeeds, it's really an incredible space and it would be great to see it back in use."

Meanwhile, the spaces for rent are roughly 1,000 square feet and 1,220 square feet. The entrances to the storefronts are on the Avenue B side. The theater entrance is on 12th Street. The reader even created a diagram of the space (not to scale):

And two shots that I took of the space...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Former landmark countercultural theater now for rent on Avenue B

The long-dormant Hispanic evangelical church that was housed in the building here on Avenue B between 11th Street and 12th Street... now up for rent. Two spaces are available: One at 1,000 square feet and the other at 1,220 square feet. This is a prime chunk of space ripe for something horrible. However. Given the store-bought sign, the lack of a broker and the fact that space is only for rent, and not for sale, we remain hopeful. We're curious about what kind of tenant Pastor Carlos seeks.

Meanwhile. This building is hallowed ground for many cinephiles. The space here at 193 Avenue B opened in 1926 as the Bijou, a 600-seat theater with a balcony. It later bacame the Charles Theatre. As Cinema Treasures notes: "In later years it was one of the early New York theatres to program off-beat and independent films. It showed early Warhol and had open film nights where young filmmakers could get an audience."

You can see the Charles here in this shot from 1949. We're looking north from 11th Street. (Via.)

Here's more info on the Charles via:

[T]he Charles "provided the underground with it's first, semi-permanent base of operations." While the theaters tenure was short-lived (a little over a year--- beginning in 1961) it's legacy was quite impressive. " became a landmark of sorts in the creation of an American counterculture."

Jonas Mekas
was hired by the owners of the Charles to organize some additional screenings. "Mekas was then in the early stages of his passionate commitment to American experimental cinema" but "had an eye for new talent"...and began holding monthly open screenings which turned out to be great social events. Some audience members quickly made the transition to filmmakers, while others acted/participated as critics.

In light of the above the Charles emerges as a "Great Good Place" because "it was the spiritual home of a particular utopian ideology, a place where the audience was not just the passive recipient of mass-produced fantasies, but an active community, producing movies for itself. The Charles therefore incorporated films and film making into an alternative sense of family and community through freedom and equality.

Here's the Charles in 1966. (Via.)

There's a lot more, of course. (For example, in February 1962, the Arkestra — billed as Le Sun Ra and his Cosmic Space Jazz Group — made their New York debut at the Charles.) But you get the idea for now. I'll have more later. As far as I can find, the use of this space as a theater ended in 1975.

I'll leave you with this letter from the Metropolitan Diary from earlier this summer:

Dear Diary:

Growing up on 16th Street between Avenues B and C before Stuyvesant Town was built meant that respite from summer’s heat was available only if you went to the upscale movie theaters like the RKO Jefferson or the Academy of Music, both farther west on 14th Street. No such luxury could be found at the local movie house, the Bijou Theater, on Avenue B between 11th and 12th Streets.

This two-story theater was strictly a no-frills neighborhood flick house. But when the summer temperature inside became unbearable or cigarette smoke blurred the screen, the ceiling of the Bijou began to ever so slowly slide open from the center toward the edges to provide egress for both heat and Lucky Strike’s blue vapors.

For a 10-year-old like me it was magic — until a sudden thunderstorm came up and the rain began pelting the seats. The roof’s closing speed was also ever so slow, and people scrambled in all directions like it was a fire drill. When it finally closed, we all went back to our seats, gave them a swipe with a handkerchief and never took our eyes off the screen.

The Marx Brothers had their “Night at the Opera.” We had our nights at the Bijou.

Victor Washkevich