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Essential Cinema: Jonas Mekas

August 3 – September 1

Born in the rural village of Semeniškiai, near Biržai, Lithuania, filmmaker, poet, writer, and cultural activist Jonas Mekas (1922 – 2019) is widely considered one of the most prolific and influential artists of his generation. His wide-ranging work encompasses five decades of visionary films and videos, many of which take the form of intimate visual diaries — unpolished, impressionistic, and crafted from fragments of footage captured after he arrived in New York from a displaced person’s camp following World War II. With his brother Adolfas, he started the journal Film Culture in 1954; he became the first film writer for The Village Voice, penning the influential “Movie Journal” column promoting the work of avant-garde filmmakers; and he was a founder of Anthology Film Archives and the artist-run Film-Makers’ Cooperative. But it is the lyric, poetic qualities of his vision, combined with an affinity for the intuitive, playful, and fortuitous style of New York’s postwar art communities that give Mekas’s art its power. With thanks to the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, Embassy of Lithuania, Philip Brookman, and MM Serra.

courtesy Film-Makers' Cooperative / New American Cinema Group

Film Programs

The National Gallery of Art’s film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world.

View the current schedule here.

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