The Lower East Side Biography Project
excerpt from 28 minute biography
Steve Zehentner: Producer, Co-director/editor, Director of Photography
Jonas Mekas is a Lithuanian-born American filmmaker, poet, writer, and curator who has often been called "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema." Editor of Film Culture magazine, co-founder of Film-Makers' Cooperative and the Filmmaker’s Cinematheque which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of avant-garde films, Mekas has stated "that the cinema was the tongue in which we could reach everybody."
The Jonas Mekas Biography was produced by of The Lower East Side Biography Project and was directed and edited by Virginia Williams, Aubrey Anable and Justin O. Silverman in collaboration with Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner.
The Lower East Side Biography Project was created in 1999 by performance artist Penny Arcade and video producer Steve Zehentner as an ongoing biography series and oral history archive. The LES Bio Project’s biographies and archive will help to ensure that future generations have access to the mad souls of invention and rebellion that built the Lower East Side’s international reputation as an incubator for authenticity and iconoclasm in art, culture and politics.
The project seeks to stem the tide of cultural amnesia by bridging the cultural gap between long time residents and newcomers to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of New York’s Lower East Side. To this end, the LES Bio Project has a community-media training component where young filmmakers are trained in production and post-production technologies and then become shepherds of an individual oral history that they edit into a 28-minute biography. Since its inception, the LES Bio Project has trained over forty individuals, completed forty 28-minute biographies, videotaped dozens more interviews and live events.
The completed biographies are cablecast and streamed live every Monday at 11 p.m EST on Time Warner Cable Channel 34 and on Manhattan Neighborhood Network Community Channel One.
View the current livestream and cablecast schedule on the project's Facebook page.