May 10, 2021

Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas dies at 96

Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas dies at 96


The American of Lithuanian origin Jonas Mekas, considered one of the most important figures in the history of experimental cinema, died today at 96 years of age, according to the organization Anthology Film Archives, founded by the filmmaker in 1970.

"Jonas died in peace early this morning", communicated in his Instagram account the cultural institution located in New York. "He was at home with his family, he will be greatly missed, but his light keeps shining", he asserted.

Although the cause of his death has not been disclosed, the newspaper "The New York Times" pointed out that last year Mekas was admitted to a hospital because of a little-known blood disease.

Mekas was the protagonist of several retrospectives and was awarded with a series of prizes, among them the Grand Prix of the Venice Film Festival, which he won in 1964 for his film "The Brig".

His works were included in the 2002 and 2017 editions of Documenta, an important show that takes place in Kassel (Germany) every five years, and also in 2003 and 2005 at the Venice Biennial.

Mekas was born in rural Lithuania in 1922, and he arrived in New York in the late 1940s after fleeing the Nazi concentration camps and of the recruits of the Soviet Union.

In 1958 he became the first film critic of the "Village Voice", a cult newspaper in New York, where he established himself among the avant-garde community of the seventh art.

It was from then on that he began to devise ways of showing rare and unknown films on a regular basis, which led him to co-found the Film-Makers' Cinemateque, where films that did not reach the dominant cultural current were seen.

Later, that project ended up becoming the Anthology Film Archives, one of the centers of reference for experimental films and films that are difficult for the public to access.

Mekas remained an active personality in his field until the end of his life and appeared in several film festivals and protests, such as "Occupy Wall Street", the protest movement that emerged in New York during the economic crisis that began in 2008.

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