Jonas Mekas Biography


Most of Jonas Mekas's life is unpredictable. He was born Decemeber 24, 1922 in Semeniskiai, Lithuania. He would go on to become one of the most important figures of the American independent cinema. In 1944, he was taken with his brother, by Nazis and sent to a forced labor camp in the suburbs of Hamburg where he would spend eight months. When the war ended, the Mekas brothers spent four years in a number of different displaced persons camps run by the Allies. In the late fall of 1949 the Mekas brothers arrived in America and settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Two weeks after his arrival Jonas Mekas borrowed the money to buy his first Bolex 16mm camera and began to record moments of his life.

"I had only bits of time which allowed me to shoot only bits of film," he explains. "I said to myself, 'Fine, very fine. If I don't have time to devote 6 or 7 months to making a film, I won't break my heart about it, I'll film short notes, from day to day, every day if I can film one minute, I film one minute."

--Kimberley DeSoto, 2001




Jonas Mekas