Earlier this week, filmmaker, writer, editor, publisher, and professor Adolfas Mekasdied at the age of 85. He was an important voice in the burgeoning underground scene in New York in the 1950s and '60s, first as co-publisher along with his brother Jonas of Film Culture magazine then as a filmmaker — his film Hallelujah the Hills is an important work of the early '60s avant-garde. While Jonas immersed himself in the NYC art and film scene, making films and co-founding Anthology Film Archives, among other accomplishments, Adolfas headed upstate to co-found the film department at Bard College in 1971, and he taught there until the early years of the 21st century.
In 2007, I interviewed Adolfas about his brother for my arts journalism thesis project, which focused on Jonas' 365 Films project and his importance to film culture (digital and otherwise). Adolfas was extremely gracious with his time and spoke freely and candidly about a host of topics: Jonas, his departure from Bard, the difference between film and cinema, what constitutes cinema in the digital age, and on and on. Despite only knowing each other through a brief email exchange, he spoke with me as if we went way back, something I always appreciated.
The plan for the interview — and the 4,000-word magazine-ready piece I wrote as my thesis — was to get it published after I graduated. That never happened. So rather than have this interview languish on a hard drive, I share it here as my own way of remembering this titan of American cinema.Read More