One, Jonas Mekas, was born to the cinema when he went into exile after escaping from a Europe that no longer had a place for him.
Arriving in the United States with his brother Adolfas in 1949, having fled Lithuania when the Nazis invaded and experiencing forced labour and camps for displaced persons, after seeing the Iron Curtain descend over Europe, Jonas Mekas discovered the New York of the Beat Generation and its exhilarating art scene. For a few cents he bought a 16 mm Bolex which would never leave him. He filmed his daily activities, moments in his own life and that of his friends and acquaintances, Brakhage, Anger, Smith, Markopoulos, Maciunas, Warhol, Ginsberg, the Velvet, Lennon and Yoko Ono, Dali… At the same time as his diary, he recorded the times of the New York avant-garde that he passionately defended in the columns of Film Culture and Village Voice, simultaneously promoter and archivist through the Filmmakers'Co-op and Anthology Film Archives which he co-founded. Moving to video in the late 1980s then trying installations with the new millennium, Jonas Mekas has never since ceased to film the present, always on the look out, ready to capture those serendipitous moments that quiver in his images, simultaneously very intimate, absolutely contemporary, and swathed immediately in the sweet sadness of memory.
The other, José Luis Guerin, born in Catalonia, grew up with the cinema that he regularly attended and the films he made from his teenage years in the mid 1970s.
His documentary and feature films focus on places through the passing years and transformed by time: the Irish village where John Ford filmed The Quiet Man, a district of Barcelona in the process of transformation (En construcción – Under Construction), a Normandy villa where an unsolved tragedy occurred eighty years earlier (Thuit), the streets of Strasbourg in search of a woman (Dans la ville de Sylvia), global poverty in the course of a film-maker's peregrinations from festival to festival (Guest), his street in Barcelona witness to a tragedy (Recuerdos de una mañana)…
Who will be surprised that Jonas Mekas and José Luis Guerin, direct descendants of the Lumière brothers, tireless directors of their places, their times and their inhabitants have corresponded in film? This, a video installation made up of nine film letters, at the heart of this meeting of the two film-makers, is exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, in parallel with the programmed screening of all their films, in their presence.