Legendary Moments: Hannah Lack x Jonas Mekas

Film Editor Hannah Lack recalls the time she drank beers with the iconic New York filmmaker

Shot by Hugh Lippe for Volume 2, Issue 88: August
Shot by Hugh Lippe for Volume 2, Issue 88: August 2010

Over the years the Dazed & Confused editors have racked up some monumental encounters: from Katie Shillingford’s tea with Björk to Tim Noakes nibbling Nando's with Grace Jones. Continuing to celebrate the forthcoming Dazed x Ray-Ban event with Kim Gordon and Bobby Gillespie, we asked our film editor, Hannah Lack, to tell us about hanging out in New York's East Village with famed filmmaker and friend of Harold Pinter, Jonas Mekas.

"A couple years ago I flew to New York to interview avant-garde filmmaking legend Jonas Mekas. I had interviewed Iggy Pop and seen the Stooges play in Williamsburg the night before, so I arrived at Mekas’s warehouse in Brooklyn in the morning a little hungover, but expecting to spend a restful hour interviewing the 89-year-old. Inside, I found cats stalking around piled-up reels of film and Mekas playing a trumpet-like instrument and opening up a bottle of red wine. He’s a fantastic storyteller – we talked about his work, and how he smuggled Jean Genet’s banned film Un chant d’amour into the US under his raincoat (with help from Harold Pinter), taught the Kennedy kids to shoot Super 8 during summers in Montauk and filmed the first ever Velvet Underground gig; and also, of course, his collaborators over the years – Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, Allen Ginsberg…

Soon talk of his avant-garde film restoration work at Anthology Film Archives on 2nd Ave turned into a trip there for a personal tour, then we moved across the road to a favourite bar for a few beers, where we began gathering friends, including his son. The scene moved on to a Mexican restaurant, where more people joined Mekas’s travelling band, including Stella Schnabel. By the time I had to leave, the fedora-wearing Mekas was at the centre of a crowd, ringleader and master of ceremonies, waving goodbye and a little disappointed that Dazed & Confused couldn’t keep the pace. If I have one-tenth of his energy at 89, I’ll be happy. Mekas is still making new work, and has a big retrospective this December at the Serpentine Gallery, with screenings at the BFI – another busy year for the indefatigable legend."

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