Watch the First Five Minutes of Jonas Mekas’s Mars Bar Movie, Opening Friday

With its former home at First Street and Second Avenue now a hole in the ground, a couple of Mars Bar’s neighbors are paying tribute to it in the next days.

Tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (to the dismay of some bloggers) upscale boutique Blue & Cream will launch an exhibition of photos that Debby Hymowitz took at the old dive in 2010 (you can see some of them online). And tomorrow, Jonas Mekas’s love letter to the watering hole, “My Mars Bar Movie,” opens at Anthology Film Archives. It’ll be its first screening since an underattended premiere at the Greenpoint Film Festival in October.

From the film’s first five minutes (excerpted exclusively above), it’s clear this isn’t a traditional documentary. The director said as much yesterday afternoon, nursing a beer and a double shot of vodka at Anyway Café.

mekasEvan Bleier Jonas Mekas at Anyway.

“This film is not a documentary that tries to tell everything there is to know about this place,” said Mr. Mekas. “It’s like a personal notebook. Like a diary. There are many different people who will have their own idea about what the Mars Bar was. This is mine.”

Though the film makes it evident that hard drinking was a big part of Mars Bar’s culture, the filmmaker said there was more to it than that. “People did not come to Mars Bar to get drunk,” he said. “They came for the atmosphere. It was like a family. I think it was very important for this area to have something like that, to have a place where you could go and forget and not care about anything.”

Mr. Mekas said he hoped the film would honor owner Hank Penza’s ability to keep Mars Bars open and unique for so long. “I wanted to put it together and show it almost in his honor, as a tribute to him – show that we are not forgetting, that we are remembering,” he said, adding that the bar’s closing was a symptom of a changing city. “He could not stay there because somebody had to buy it and build something bigger. What do they call that? Gentrification. It’s making everything more impersonal.”