DER Documentary

Screening Room with Jonas Mekas

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From the Screening Room series
by Robert Gardner
color, 75 min, 1975/2005

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Jonas Mekas - filmmaker, film critic, archivist, poet, lecturer and curator - is one of the leading figures of American avant-garde film and video. Born in Lithuania, he immigrated to New York in 1949 after spending time in Nazi forced labor camps and displaced persons camps.

In addition to his many narrative and diary films that have screened extensively at festivals and museums around the world, he has worked as editor-in-chief of Film Culture, movie critic for the Village Voice and co-founder of Anthology Film Archives, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avant-garde films.

Jonas Mekas visited Screening Room in October 1981 to discuss the film preservation efforts of Anthology Film Archives and show and discuss his own work as well as films by other filmmakers, including Bruce Bailie, Maya Deren, and Joseph Cornell:

  • All My Life by Bruce Baillie (full film, 2:35)
  • Moth Light by Stan Brakhage (full film, 3:13)
  • Eureka by Ernie Gehr (full film, 1:23)
  • Midnight Parity by Joseph Cornell (full film, 3:08)
  • Notebook by Marie Menken (full film with commentary, 10:38)
  • Paradise Not Yet Lost by Jonas Mekas (excerpt, 9:35)
  • Choreography for Camera by Maya Deren (full film, 2:15)
  • Choreography for Camera Outtakes by Maya Deren (footage with commentary, 4:56)
  • Color Sequence by Dwinell Grant (full film, 1:58)

About the Screening Room series
In the early 1970s a group of idealistic artists, lawyers, doctors and teachers saw an opportunity to change commercial television in Boston and the surrounding area. It would require years of litigation up to and including the Supreme Court, but the case was won and the Channel 5 license was given to WCVB-TV. Screening Room was one of several programs offered in an effort to provide alternative television viewing. The idea behind Screening Room was to give independent filmmakers an opportunity to discuss their work and show it to a large urban audience. Nearly 100 ninety-minute programs were produced and aired between 1973 and 1980.

Screening Room was developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, who at the time, was Director of Harvard's Visual Arts Center and Chairman of its Visual and Environmental Studies Department. His own films include Dead Birds (1964), and Forest of Bliss (1986).

This DVD is also available as part of the Screening Room series' Experimental Collection.

Other films from the Screening Room series
Bruce Baillie
Les Blank
Robert Breer
James Broughton
Emile de Antonio
Ed Emshwiller
Hollis Frampton
Robert Fulton
George Griffin
Hillary Harris
John & Faith Hubley
Peter Hutton
Derek Lamb
Standish Lawder & Stanley Cavell
Ricky Leacock
Caroline Leaf & Mary Beams
Jan Lenica
Alan Lomax
Suzan Pitt
Yvonne Rainer
Richard P. Rogers
Jean Rouch
Michael Snow
John Whitney Sr.

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts