The virtual home of avante-garde film icon Jonas Mekas hosts short films produced by Mekas and other prominent filmmakers. Originally from Lithuania, Mekas immigrated to the United States in 1949 and almost immediately found his niche within the culture of underground film. A champion of experimental cinema, he established the now defunct Film Culture Magazine in 1955, as well as the Film Makers Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives. He has also written film reviews for the Village Voice since 1958. Among his many accolades he has been honored by the Albright-Knox Gallery, the Long Warf Theater Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mekas’ website is a tribute to his legacy as well as a reflection of his constant evolution – he is among the first of the original avante-garde to explore digital video technology.
In keeping with Mekas’ artistic precision, the site opens to a collage of still shots complied from classic films that gently dissolve into one another, offering a brief taste of the impact of the avante-garde. A crisp, contemporary design makes the site both easy to navigate and exudes the kind of clean tranquility that lends its focus to the films and away from any packaging gimmicks. Access to the films are provided to subscribers only or by purchase, but previews are available for curious outsiders.
To begin the avante-garde exploration Mekas offers a Collection of 40 of his films including such greats as: Warhol and Maciunas, Song of Central Park, and Allen Ginsberg Sings Blues. 365 Films is presented in calendar format, designating one film for each day of the year. On Day 130, May 10, 2007, Mekas films his reaction to a Liquid Archecitecture Song, which depicts him raucously chanting “Revolution it never ends!” And on Day 183, July 2, 2007, he documents the consistent fervor of the hard rain fall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These films are available free to subscribers on their release date.
The Classics category hosts a series of classic short films by old greats like Kenneth Anger, Hans Richeter, and Marie Menken. Mekas also provides a forum for guest filmmakers Bruce Baillie, Jim Jarmusch, Ken Jacobs, Julius Ziz, Virgine Marchand, and Ben Northcover. He further reserves the Outtakes category for great scenes that, for whatever reason, are relegated to the cutting room floor. Users are also given the chance to talk about filmmaking or the site in general on the open forum.
The site is a true celebration of underground films and Mekas himself, who rightfully owns the title of the “godfather of American avante-garde cinema.”
Mekas’ documentation of the sly and subtle beauty of everyday life in his 365 Films provides both a taste of his genius, and a true opportunity to sit back and reflect.