88-year-old Jonas Mekas is the undisputed godfather of American underground cinema – and a living legend. Through his influential column in The Village Voice and the founding of New York’s Film-Maker’s Cooperative, the Lithuanian émigré has tirelessly – and fearlessly – championed independent and avant-garde cinema: he was arrested and stood trial in 1964 for screening Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures and Jean Genet’s Un Chant d’Amour. For over half a century, with 16mm Bolex camera in hand, Mekas has been on the frontline recording political and cultural seismic shifts: from violent wars across Europe to artistic revolutions in The Big Apple, working closely with such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Kenneth Anger and, more recently, Harmony Korine.
Here, in an exclusive filmed conversation for Another Man, actor and artist Benn Northover enjoys a beer with his mentor and collaborator in a small bar in Paris. The two kindred spirits had just come off an intensive five-week European tour of film festivals – managing a visit to Mekas’s childhood village – and Northover was starting to think he could add a new title to Mekas’s mighty CV: that of Shaman. For the full conversation see the new Another Man ‘Altered States’ issue, out now…
Text by Ben Cobb
Benn Northover is a British-born actor, photographer and filmmaker now living in New York. His recent acting credits include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, out in November. As well as co-curating a new exhibition of Jonas Mekas’s work – to be installed at the Serpentine gallery in 2011 – he is currently working on a book of his photographic work, called Turiner Strasse, 3.