In Memory & Thankfulness, Jonas Mekas (24.12.1922 – 23.01.2019)

Short synopsis:
A personal film about lithuanian refugee Jonas Mekas, who, in New York, became a great inspirer for independent film, poetry and people. Filmed between 2015 and 2020, mainly in Brooklyn, with son Sebastian, and many friends - like Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Julian Schnabel - at auction for the Harry Smith-Heaven & Earth Library; …then visiting Hamburg(Golden Poodle), Berlin, Leipzig, Kassel(documenta), for film- and book-presentations. Some flashbacks, and footage from Jonas-films, about “home”, feeling lost, and memory, then again with extreme positive energy. And very alive memorial-events at St.Marks Church, AnthologyFilmArchives in East-Village, and in Birzai, the place of Jonas’ childhood, in the fields of Lithuania, with a silver cow. Jonas, who was called “Godfather Of American film-avantgarde”, often laughed: “I am a farmer boy.”

Music: Matthias Schuster, Das Institut, Geisterfahrer, Peter Brötzmann, Saal 2, Bürgermeister Der Nacht, Auguste Varkalis, Now We Are Here Band, Jonas, Julius Ziz ...

Guests: Sebastian Mekas, Hollis Melton, Oona Mekas, Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Julian Schnabel, John Leland, Michael Stipe, Andy Lampert, Vyt Bakaitis, Steve Buscemi, Lillian Isabella, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Phong Bui, Indra Drevinskaitè, Heike Geißler, Anne König, Mario, Holger Steen, and friends, horses, cows and happy birds


23.Jan 2023… after Berlin-premiere “Jonas In The Fields” at Arsenal-Kino, Berlin:

 Many many thanks and acui labais to all filmfriends, Christian Hiller (who organised a lot, and made fotos in a jiffy), Milena Gregor &Arsenal Kinoteam, great to see son Sebastian, his wife Justina, his mum Hollis, and the attentive and warmhearted audience! The show for Jonas In The Fields was a wonderful evening…, Jonas surely would have liked it, we miss him a lot…, very much..., and then… there were some good drinks later, cheers, and i sveikata! …yes… Long Live Cinema! (PSe)




The premiere, 2.nd Oct.2021, in the beautiful old Metropolis Kino, at the 29th Filmfest Hamburg, was just wonderful... in memory and thankfulness to Jonas... ...our friend and hero of independent film, poetry and people... ...for ever. Kommentar von Laila Unger  Laila Unger text english  Kommentar Joachim Büchner: „Jonas in the Fields“ ist ein unschätzbar wichtiges Dokument…  Fynn Steiner (Bürgermeister der Nacht):Hier der Hinweis auf einen zeitgemäßen Heimatfilm…“  Kommentar, Katharina Schütz, (Theaterregie, Literaturperformance) Jens Kraft (SAAL 2) Kommentar, Drew Van Weelden

"Dear Peter, I just watched "Jonas in the Fields.” It’s a wonderful film. I loved it! I could watch it again and again.  You covered so much—and Jonas is so happy, so funny and wise. ... " (Hollis Melton, wife-ex of Jonas, and mother of Sebastian und Oona Mekas, August 2022)



January 2023, Berlin, dear filmfriends, you are lucky: you have another chance to see a Jonas Mekas-film in cinema on big screen, last show of great series.

Thanks to Arsenal-Kino. Quite well, I remember the premiere with Jonas at the Berlinale, Filmforum-section,

in the old, huge, beautiful Delphi-Filmpalast, full house. At first I was wondering about the length of 4 hours…, the film started… and then I was only wondering about the film.

Time was not important…, ..the way Jonas Mekas worked, was it work..., or playing?…,

I could see, hear and feel the flowing… of his pictures, sounds, music, rhythm, …his voice… – his voice like music, very present…, carries you into his world…,

with a kind of directness and simplicity, lightheartedness, and deep criticism, looking for the real…, “I want it real!”… and with kindness and humour… ,

…“celebrating Life!”..

Wim Wenders called Jonas the ‘James Joyce of movies’.., Peter Beard called him the ‘Picasso of film’,

and then wonderful when Jonas often said: “I am a farmer-boy”…, and raised his glass of wine…, aciu labais!, y i sveikata!... :) 

(P.Sempel), Wednesday, 25.Jan2023., “ As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty”, Arsenal-Kino, Berlin.

Director Statement (Peter Sempel, 6/21)

Jonas Mekas, in honour and memory... he became 96... Such an energetic and wonderful music, film, art, and life-inspirer! ..We met end of the 80s in NY, and since then often also around half the world, with camera. ...He reads, at home in Brooklyn, f.ex. some parts of his book "I Had Nowhere To Go", saying how he envies the gypsies... This is over 30 years my film about Jonas, and still only glimpses into his fascinating life... Many great loving friends repeat his "Keep dancing, singing, have a good drink, and don´t get too serious!",...yes, i sveikata! ...I remember very well one of my last scenes when I filmed Jonas, as he was filming a big flock of singing birds and he cheered: "Look, the birds are happy!"

A few Film-moments, text in progress: information for website, P.Sempel, 6/21:)

This is a longtime project about Jonas Mekas. 1994: Jonas in the Desert (104min, 16mm), 2002: Jonas At The Ocean (94min, 16mm), 2013: Jonas In The Jungle (98min, BluRay, Digibeta)
How it started: his film "He Stands In A Desert Counting The Seconds Of His Life" which i saw at the Int. Film Festival Torino 1985, and his presentation of my film DANDY at Anthology Film Archives in 1989. Then he was a special guest for one minute in the Kazuo Ohno film "Just Visiting This Planet", sitting on his refridgerator next to a big clock and then said: (which he doesn't remember) "hey, why don't you make a whole film about me?", like saying "give me the apple over there".. Over the years we had many meetings, drinks and films.


Vita (Peter Sempel): Born in Hamburg, grew up in Australian bush, no electricity, to school on horseback. As teenager back in Hamburg, Abitur, hobby: undergroundmusic +opera, started films 1981 because of music, and dance. Many shorts, and 14 long films, with Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave, Nina Hagen, 2films Kazuo Ohno, 3films Jonas Mekas, Flamenco, Ginsberg, Patti, Lemmy (Motörhead), Meese+Artscene, Jazzer Peter Brötzmann, Dieter Meier/Yello, Bazon Brock, …, many independents and animals. Often presents his films (and fotos) personally, in all kinds of places, but best in cinemas!





Copyright by Peter Sempel