George - The Story of George Maciunas and Fluxus

George Maciunas (1931-1978) was the founder of Fluxus, a radical avant-garde art movement of the 20th century. The film traces how the Lithuanian-born iconoclastic polymath assembled an international network of artists, musicians, and poets that provoked social and political change through performance, ready-mades, and artworks aimed at collapsing the boundary of art and life. From developing the first artist-owned lofts in SoHo, New York, to his attempt to realize a utopian society on a desolate island in the Caribbean, Maciunas was an uncompromising visionary with a rebellious sense of humor. What emerges in the film, is a kaleidoscopic, often contradictory but always revealing portrait of Maciunas' bold and tragic life. With interviews among over thirty artists and scholars including Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, and Nam June Paik, the film recounts Maciunas' mercurial personality, asks questions that remain central to our contemporary moment, and explores how one can live a meaningful and artful life.

  • Jeffrey Perkins
    The Painter Sam Francis, Bird, Meet the Kuchar Brothers
  • Jeffrey Perkins
  • Jeffrey Perkins
  • Liz Dautzenberg
  • George Maciunas
    Key Cast
  • Jonas Mekas
    Key Cast
  • Yoko Ono
    Key Cast
  • John Lennon
    Key Cast
  • Henry Flynt
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 4 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 9, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    150,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • BFI London Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 6, 2019
    UK premiere
    Official selection Experimenta
  • Art Basel
    June 15, 2019
    European Premiere
    Official selection Film Program
  • FILAF -Festival International du Livre d'Art et du Film -
    June 19, 2019
    European Premiere
    Official selection
Distribution Information
  • Kino Lorber
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
    Country: Canada
    Rights: All Rights
  • Re:voir
    Country: France
    Rights: Video / Disc
Director Biography - Jeffrey Perkins

Nicknamed 'the Fluxus cabdriver' by Nam June Paik, Jeffrey Perkins is an artist and filmmaker who has worked in relative obscurity for over five decades, having collaborated in the 1960s with Fluxus artists including George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, and Alison Knowles. Perkins co-founded the multi media group The Single Wing Turquoise Bird, which was the premier rock and roll concert light show in the sixties. Until recently he was best known for his light projection performances and his Movies for the Blind, based on sound recordings of interviews with passengers in his cab. He completed the feature documentary portrait of George - the story of George Maciunas and Fluxus in 2018 and his feature The Painter Sam Francis in 2008. Other films of his hand are Fluxus Film #22: Shout (1966), Stan Brakhage on Gregory Markopolous (1998) and Meet the Kuchar Brothers (1999). Jeff Perkins has been associated with Anthology Film Archives in New York since 1986, and has produced several programs and performances there since then.

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Director Statement

My works as a film maker have been the products of my personal life, and the influential life experiences that informed them, and given my life as an artist in and around Fluxus in NYC, I was very familiar with the person and myth surrounding George Maciunas. In 1966 I was introduced to George Maciunas at his apartment in Soho, and following that I was able to make a short film that was included in the first Fluxus Film Festival, as well as other works for Fluxus. George’s person was to me influential and inspiring, and served as a new direction in art making for me. 

It was 50 years later that I realized the idea of a documentary about George Maciunas. I strongly felt that such a film had yet to be made because I believe that the story of George Maciunas and Fluxus is still relevant in the complex world we live in today. My mission was to capture the stories of the living Fluxus artist as well as other essential figures, so that these would be preserved to inspire new generations. 

Since I am very well acquainted to most of the Fluxus-artists, the first steps were easily made. I began researching the dimensions of George's history with generous help from a younger generation of artists interested in the story of Fluxus. Years of travel and research resulted in 50 intimate interviews with the living Fluxus artists, as well as other essential figures. Jonas Mekas helped by donating virtually all of his 16mm film footage of George Maciunas to the project. Generosity from friends near and far came to build the wide and deep corpus of media and stories about George's life story. Much of the materials that I found and recorded had never been exposed to public view, in the body of a film about him, and of course my inspiration grew greater as the film project expanded. 

I found the artist Jessie Stead to edit the film like one finds a friend, by the happenstance of experience and intuition. She suggested the film should be a Fluxus piece in itself, while maintaining a familiar documentary structure. I believe that the spirit of Fluxus as a living thing is very much present in this film. Collectivity, immigration, utopia and freedom are themes that are very much present in 2018, which were also at the foundation of Fluxus. What I want to inspire with this film is stated in the manifesto from George Maciunas himself:: “To purge the world of bourgeois sickness, intellectual and commercialized culture. Promote a revolutionary flood and tide in art. Promote living art, anti-art, promote non-art reality to be fully grasped by all peoples, not only critics, dilettantes and professionals.”