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All this is not a fantasy: the life and work of Adolfas Mekas

All this is not a fantasy: the life and work of Adolfas Mekas

Adolfas Mekas: Comic Iconoclast of the American Independent Film

The dynamics of World War II would set in motion events that would lead to Adolfas Mekas having an important influence on American independent film in a number of different ways. Because of threats to their lives on account of political activism, Adolfas Mekas, along with his older brother, Jonas, fled his homeland of Lithuania during World War II only to end up as a forced factory worker in Northern Germany. After a couple of years as refugees in post-war West Germany, the brothers had a chance to emigrate to the USA where they settled in New York City. The dream of returning to their homeland waned and it was here that the Mekas brothers became interested in film. In 1955, they co-founded Film Culture, the now legendary critical journal that helped to foster an audience informed about serious contemporary film art as well as the great but rather under-appreciated heritage of past filmmaking. As an artist, Adolfas Mekas would become part of the New American Cinema group and make one of its acknowledged masterpieces, the marvelously comic Hallelujah the Hills (1963). After struggling through later productions in that same decade, Adolfas Mekas accepted a teaching position at Bard College. He soon became chairman of the new film program there and in a span of roughly 30 years, helped to develop and influence a number of young practitioners.  Whatever he did, Adolfas Mekas did it with a comic, rebellious spirit and a love of life, all the more remarkable because of his earlier struggles. His exuberant, anarchic spirit is perhaps best captured in one of his most satisfying and personal films, Going Home (1972), an autobiographical journal that records his first trip back to Lithuania in 1971.

Films in the programme
Hallelujah The Hills, režisierius Adolfas Mekas, 1963, 82 min.
Karinis kalėjimas, , JAV, 1964, 68 min.
Positives, directors Mikas Žukauskas, Virginija Vareikytė, Lithuania, 2007, 26 min.
Time & Fortune Vietnam Newsreel, authors Adolfas Mekas, Jonas Mekas, USA, 1969, 5 min.
Going Home, režisierius Adolfas Mekas, JAV, 1971, 60 min.
Cage / Cunningham, režisierius Elliot Caplan, USA, 1991, 100 min.
John & Jane, director Ashim Ahluwalia, JAV, 2005, 83 min.
Frenkas ir Sindė, director G.J. Echternkamp, USA, 2007, 73 min.
The Double Barreled Detective Story, director Adolfas Mekas, USA, 1965, 90 min.
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