Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Two weeks after his arrival in New York he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon got deeply involved in the American Avant-Garde film movement. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, which soon became the most important film publication in the US. In 1958 he began his legendary Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers' Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avant-garde cinema, and a screening venue.
During all this time he continued writing poetry and making films. To this date he has published more than 20 books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over 12 languages. His Lithuanian poetry is now part of Lithuanian classic literature and his films can be found in leading museums around the world. He is largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Mekas has also been active as an academic, teaching at the New School for Social Research, the International Center for Photography, Cooper Union, New York University, and MIT.
Mekas' film The Brig was awarded the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1963. Other films include Walden (1969), Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972), Lost Lost Lost (1975), Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990), Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), As I was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000), Letter from Greenpoint (2005), and Sleepless Nights Stories (2011). In 2007, he completed a series of 365 short films released on the internet -- one film every day -- and since then has continued to share new work on his website.
Since 2000, Mekas has expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Coulogne, and the Venice Biennale. In 2007, the Jonas Mekas Center for the Visual Arts opened in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Cup/Saucer/Two Dancers/Radio (1965/1983), 23 min.
Guns of the Trees (1962), 75 min.
Film Magazine of the Arts (Summer, 1963), 20 min.
The Brig (1964), 68 min.
Award Presentation to Andy Warhol (1964), 12 min.
Report from Millbrook (1965/ 1966), 12 min.
Walden (Diaries, Notes, and Sketches), (filmed 1964-1968, edited 1968-69), 3 hrs.
Hare Krishna (1966), 4 min.
Notes on the Circus (1966), 12 min.
Cassis (1966), 4 min.
The Italian Notebook (1967), 15 min.
Time and Fortune Vietnam Newsreel (1968), 4 min.
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1971-1972), 82 min.
Lost Lost Lost (1976), 2 hrs. 58 min.
In Between: 1964-8 (1978), 52 min.
Notes for Jerome (1978), 45 min.
Paradise Not Yet Lost (aka Oona's Third year) (1979), 96 min.
Self-Portrait (1980), 20 min., video
Street Songs (1966/1983) 10 min.
Erik Hawkins: Excerpts from "Here and Now with Watchers"/Lucia Dlugoszewski Performs (1963/1983), 6 min.
He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life (1969/1985), 2 hrs. 30 min.
Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990), 35 min.
A Walk (1990), 58 min., video
Mob of Angels: Baptism (1990), 61 min., video
Mob of Angels at St. Ann (1991), 60 min, video
Dr. Carl G. Jung or Lapis Philosophorum (1991), 29 min.
Quartet Number One (1991) 8 min.
Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), 34 min.
The Education of Sebastian or Egypt Regained (1992), 6 hrs. video
Imperfect 3-Image films (1995), 6 min.
On My Way to Fujiyama (1995), 25 min.
Happy Birthday to John (1996), 24 min.
Cinema is Not 100 Years Old (1996), 4 min., video
Memories of Frankenstein (1996), 95 min.
Letters to Friends (1997), 1 hr. 28 min., video
Birth of a Nation (1997), 85 min.
Symphony of Joy (1997), 1 hr. 15 min.
Scenes from Allen's Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit (April 1997), 67 min., video
Letter from Nowhere -- Laiškai iš niekur N.1 (1997), 75 min., video [in Lithuanian]
Song of Avignon (1998), 5 min.
Laboratorium Anthology (1999), 63 min., video
This Side of Paradise (1999) 35 min., 16 mm
Notes on the Factory (1999) 64 min., video
Notes on Film-Maker's Cooperative (1999), 40 min., video
Autobiography of a Man Who Carried his Memory in his Eyes (2000) 53 min., video
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000) 4 hrs. 48 min.
Mozart & Wien and Elvis (2000) 3 min.
Silence, Please (2000), 6 min., video
Requiem for a Manual Typewriter (2000) 19 min., video
Remedy for Melancholy (2000) 20 min., video
Letter to Penny Arcade (2001), 14 min. 33 sec., video
Ein Märchen (2001) 6 min., video
Ar Buvo Karas? (2002), 2 hrs. 28 min.
Mysteries (1966/2002) 34 min.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1949/2002) 15 min.
Travel Songs 1967-1981 (2003) 28 min.
Letter from Greenpoint (2004) 80 min., video
Notes on Utopia (2003-5) 55 min., video
Father and Daughter (2005), 4 min. 30 sec., video
Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese (2005), 1hr 20 min.
Scenes from the Life of Hermann Nitsch (2005), 58 min., film and video
First Forty (2006). Forty short films, using materials from earlier films, re-edited specially for internet and installations.
365 Day Project (2007). 365 short films, one for each calendar day of the year 2007.
Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR (2008), 4 hrs. 49 min., video
I Leave Chelsea Hotel (2009), 4 min.
Sleepless Nights Stories (2011), 114 min.
My Paris Movie (2011), 2 hrs. 39 min.
My Bars Bar Movie (2011), 86 min.
Correspondences: José Luis Guerin and Jonas Mekas (2011), 99 min.
Re: George Maciunas and Fluxus (2011), 87 min.
Mont Ventoux (2011), 3 min.
Happy Easter Ride (2012), 18 min.
Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland (2012), 25 min.
Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man (2012), 68 min.
On 21.12.2012 Kinodot and Cloudcinema has organized the open screening of Sleepless Nights Stories by Jonas Mekas in St. Petersburg, on the occasion of his 90th birthday.