In 2000 I had the pleasure of spending an evening with the filmmaker Jonas Mekas while I was working for the London Film Festival. I was quite young and had never even heard of him before, despite him being the godfather of american avante garde cinema. Jonas drank only Bushmills whisky. I know this because it was my job to keep an eye on the bar tab. I gave up in the end. He also beat me in an arm wrestle. He was 77 at the time. He carried a super 8 camera everywhere and filmed everything, even me that evening.
Mekas had, at the point, already been carrying around his super 8 documenting his life for many many years since at least the 1960’s. His film As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty which was showing at the festival was edited from this footage. It is six hours long and presents a lifetime of experience from a man who, at that point, believed he didn’t have long left. I watched the film the day after I met him. Jonas was sitting in the row behind me in the cinema close enough for me to hear him crying quietly as it played.
I found his website recently and he is still going strong now in his late eighties making films recording a video blog and even doing his own 365 project.
I would love to meet him again now.
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