Jonas Mekas: My Paris Movie

Jonas Mekas loves Paris. So does this blogger and his wife. We were there in December last year. Funny to sit in New York, the home of Mekas, one year later, in his Anthology Archives cinema, in the hall named after Maya Deren.

Mekas in Paris, his latest long film, from 2011, 159 mins., a film he made, because, according to his own words: ”A few months ago Danièle Hibon, a curator at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, very casually asked me if I would consider making a new work to celebrate 20 years of cinema at the Jeu de Paume. Since it was Danièle who in 1992 curated my first exhibition in Paris, also at the Jeu de Paume, I said, without a second of thought, Of course I will do it, absolutely so!”

A tribute to Paris it is. Also literally. I have never seen so many toasts being given as in this film that most of the time takes place in bars and restaurants or in private homes at the dinner tables. White wine, sometimes red, loads of oysters – hard to watch! – looong looong takes from the streets of Paris in different seasons, rainy, a bit of snow but also sunshine, and also shootings from his hotel room(s) and from the windows of his hotel room, the roofs of Paris, but also the old man climbing stairs to get up to look at Paris from above.

I celebrate what I see, he says, and he celebrates Guillaume Apollinaire and the futuristic movement – and all the time in a charming, mild and generous way. To be honest it is nice when Mekas once in a while refrains from the shaky and abrupt camera movements, and indeed, even for Paris lovers, the film is too long, could have lived with less toasts, but then suddenly there is Jonas Mekas alone in his hotel room in January 2009 talking to us, or rather expressing true emotions having heard about the election of Obama in January 2009. Moment of beauty.

Tomorrow Jonas Mekas will be 90, a true artist, a multi-artist, an icon for the independent cinema. Congratulations.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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