Anthology Film Archives: Jonas Mekas

Anthology Film Archives: Jonas Mekas

Reframing the Archives


Please note: This event took place in July 2019

Join Helen De Witt, curator and lecturer in Film Studies at Birkbeck University of the Arts London, writer/curator Karen Alexander, and filmmaker, author and academic Vicky Smith for a conversation on the inspirational legacy of Anthology Film Archives.

Anthology Film Archives evolved from roots and visions that go back to the early 1960s, when the late Jonas Mekas, the director of the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, a showcase for avant-garde films, dreamed of establishing a permanent home where the growing number of new independent/avant-garde films could be shown on a regular basis.

When it opened on December 1, 1970, the following manifesto was issued, summing up its polemical position:

"The cinematheques of the world generally collect and show the multiple manifestations of film: as document, history, industry, mass communication. Anthology Film Archives is the first film museum exclusively devoted to the film as an art."What are the essentials of the film experience? Which films embody the heights of the art of cinema?
"The creation of Anthology Film Archives has been an ambitious attempt to provide answers to these questions; the first of which is physical – to construct a theatre in which films can be seen under the best conditions; and second critical
– to define the art of film in terms of selected works which indicate its essences and parameters. One of the guiding principles of this new film museum is that a great film must be seen many times..."
– The Essential Cinema: Essays on the films in the collection of Anthology Film Archives, edited by P. Adams Sitney