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Jonas Mekas: Poetry of the Everyday

MUBI Special

Less than a month ago, Jonas Mekas, the godfather of American avant-garde cinema as well as one of our most beloved cinematic heroes, passed away. When considering the legacy of diary filmmaking and the “homemade movie”, our minds (and hearts!) have always instinctively identified him as the leading figure of the practice. At once poet, artist and filmmaker, his cinema stands out for its unique ability to meditate on the everyday.

Shot in a quasi-documentary lens, Mekas’ vast body of work excels at capturing events and characters by adopting the most personal of touches; in every brief moment and with each new encounter, his eye was masterful at conveying fond curiosity and sheer instinct while framing the world.

As we pay homage to his eclectic contribution to cinema and beyond, MUBI is proud to present 9 of his most personal films: profoundly diverse in their own chosen settings and intimate happenings, they all cohesively belong to a cinematic journey that still feels significantly alive and timeless.

Guns of the Trees

Jonas Mekas United States, 1961

Mourning the much-missed Jonas Mekas, we open our retrospective programme dedicated to this champion of cinema. Though Mekas would later turn towards (and master) diaristic filmmaking, in his debut Guns of the Trees we still find joy and earnest enthusiasm always at the centre of his art.

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

Jonas Mekas United States, 1972

Mourning the much-missed Jonas Mekas, we open our retrospective programme dedicated to this champion of cinema. A pioneer of the diary film, his relentless oeuvre confirms the “home movie” as a film form. Reminiscences is one of the finest examples of intimacy ever put on celluloid.

Lost, Lost, Lost

Jonas Mekas United States, 1976

Walden may have been Mekas’ first diary film, but the film that incorporated Mekas’ earliest footage was the one that told the story of his postwar arrival in America, Lost Lost Lost.

Travel Songs

Jonas Mekas United States, 1981

Drawn together from two decades of itinerant shooting in Europe, Travel Songs evokes Jonas Mekas’ improvisatory approach to sightseeing, with Assisi, Moscow and Stockholm all filtered through his singularly animated lens.

Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol: Friendships and Intersections

Jonas Mekas United States, 1982

In this film Jonas Mekas chronicles not only the great pop artist, Andy Warhol, but also the social and cultural excitement that swirled around him, throbbing to a hypnotic Velvet Underground beat.

Happy Birthday to John

Jonas Mekas United States, 1997

On October 9th, 1972 an exhibition of John Lennon/Yoko Ono’s art, designed by the Master of the Fluxus movement, George Maciunas, opened at the Syracuse Museum of Art.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.