“Adolfas never considered himself as an avant garde filmmaker,” said Pola Chapelle, singer and filmmaker and widow of Adolfas Mekas.
She was speaking at ‘In Conversation’ programme of the 16th International Film Festival of Kerala with Shai Heredia, curator of the international festival of experimental films Experimanta. “But he always experimented with the narrative to make sure he told the story in a different way,” she added.
Five films of the Adolfas Mekas, Lithuanian-born filmmaker, who is considered as a central figure in the New American Cinema movement, are being screened under the retrospective section of IFFK.
An ardent reader
Pola Chapelle said that her husband was an ardent reader. In 1944, during the Nazi occupation, Adolfas and his brother Jonas were captured and sent to a labor camp by the Germans. Later they escaped from the camp and found refuge in various displaced persons’ camp before moving to US. “In the camp of the displaced persons, Adolfas and Jonas used to barter food for books,” she said.
In 1971 Mekas joined the Film Department at New York’s Bard College, which was dubbed People’s Film Department under his chairmanship. He retired as a professor in 2004.
“He did not teach his students. He had a gift of simply dropping a word here and there. Adolfas gave his students a humorous worldly look at everything,” said Ms. Chapelle. She added that Mekas’ students were out there trying to make personal films in Hollywood.
Ms. Chapelle said that a lot had changed in the world of art since the 1960s. “Back then, people associated with different art forms used to get together for discussions. I do not think it is happening anymore,” she added.
She also said that there had been a shift in the trends of film students over three decades. “People should grow up without television,” she said.