Jonas Mekas, considered the godfather of American experimental cinema, has died this Wednesday in New York at the age of 96, according to Anthology Film Archives, the institution that he founded in 1970 and that catalogs, preserves and exhibits films of all kinds -currently holds between 40,000 and 50,000 copies-. The cause of death has not been disseminated yet.
"Jonas passed away peacefully and peacefully this morning early," he has written Anthology Film Archives on Instagram. "I was at home with the family. We will miss him very much, but his light shines. "
The old stateless filmmaker, born in 1922 in a small town in Lithuania, arrived at the end of the 1940s New York, fleeing Europe devastated by the Nazism to become the voice and flag of several generations of independent and experimental filmmakers from there. He remained lucid and working until recently. Mekas has been idolized by generations of filmmakers and artists, and made his life and memory the object of a fundamental work. At the same time, he made numerous film essays – it is curious to see him filming Infiltrated, of Scorsese, in which you can see this enthralled with his presence-, books and videocorrespondencias, like the one he had with José Luis Guerín, in 2011. The Spanish filmmaker remembered then: "Now everyone can see movies, but when I I was a kid, I dreamed the movies because I could not see them, and the Mekas texts discovered a way of making movies. "
Mekas has been the subject of numerous retrospectives and received several awards, including the Grand Prix of the Venice Film Festival, which he won in 1964 for his film The Brig. His work was included in the 2002 and 2017 editions of the Documenta in Kassel (Germany) and in the 2003 and 2005 editions of the Venice Biennial. In the magazine Film culture, Jonas Mekas proclaimed in 1962 the slogans of the "new filmmaker". "Like the new poet, the new filmmaker is not interested in public acceptance. The new artist knows that most of what is published today is corrupt and distorted. He knows that the truth is somewhere else, not in The New York Times nor in the Pravda… He cares more about the destiny of man than the destiny of art, than the temporary confusions of art. Criticize our work from a purist, formalist and classicist point of view. But we tell you: what is the use of cinema if the soul of man rots? "