News #006: My Nights with Pim, Harun, Margarethe & Marin

Hello and welcome to Rep Cinema International. This news report—back from a brief intermission after last week’s two interviews—focuses on significant events, job opportunities, assorted links, news and ephemera related to repertory cinema around the world. These are things I pick up along the way and gather together, a random assortment of events, ideas, writing, projects and thoughts.

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Repertory cinema highlights

  • The Apostles of Athens at the Greek National Opera (Athens)
    On February 15, the Greek Film Archive premiered a new restoration of The Apostles of Athens (Dimitris Gaziadis, 1930), a film formerly considered lost but recovered from the vaults of the Cinémathèque française—incidentally, a scenario that also played out with the rediscovery of Gaziadis’ 1927 film Astero several years ago. The Apostles of Athens is based on the 1919 opera of the same name and was “the first Greek film to be accompanied by a synchronized recording of music and songs". Though that soundtrack is now lost, it has been historically researched and re-created, and was performed live at this event by the National Symphony Orchestra. This live recording will be married to the film on a DCP of the restoration that is expected to travel the circuit of festivals and cinematheques courtesy of the Greek Film Archive.

  • Peligro: sin identificar at Museo del Cine (Buenos Aires)
    This past weekend, the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken in Buenos Aires held the special event Peligro: sin identificar (“Danger: without identification”), bringing unidentified and under-identified film reels from their archive to the screen. Thanks to archivist Leandro Varela for bringing it to my attention, especially because the museum livestreamed the event via their YouTube channel. (By the way, I’m very interested in partnering with institutions who are broadcasting livestream events relevant to this newsletter.)
    The event was inspired by Mostly Lost, a yearly event at the U.S. Library of Congress in Culpeper, Virginia, in which unidentified film reels are screened for a group of archivists, academics and silent film enthusiasts, who are encouraged to shout out any types of information that could be used to deduce the identity of the film: actors’ names, models/years of automobiles, landmarks from cities and so on. I attended the first event in 2012 and it was a very unusual and exciting experience.
    The lure of these events is clear: the chance to see film reels that mostly likely no one but perhaps the archivist would ever get the chance to see. This selection of reels in Museo del Cine’s collection—with some from France, Italy or the United States—serves to highlight how widely films traveled during the silent era. And the reason for showing them is also clear: there is a huge wealth of film history that is lost, but it’s likely that some important material can be recovered through shared knowledge paired with the painstaking practice of examining reels sitting on archives’ shelves with old, hand-written labels reading “La bruja”, “La guillotina; Supremo sacrificio” or “La filosofia del amor”.

  • Mai in Focus at Stockholm Feminist Film Festival
    Stockholm Feminist Film Festival dedicates a retrospective to pioneering Swedish director Mai Zetterling. The filmmaker’s Loving Couples (1964), The Girls (1968), Amorosa (1986) and the rarely-screened TV film We Have Many Names (1976, pictured above) will be shown, alongside Christina Olofson’s Zetterling-focused documentary I Rollerna Tre (1996), an extended interview with legendary Swedish actresses Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson and Gunnel Lindblom, who reflect on their work with the filmmaker. Olofson and Lindblom—who you would likely recognize from The Seventh Seal if not by name—will join for a panel discussion.

  • Feminist Re-Imaginings at the Rio 1980-2020 at Rio Cinema (London)
    London’s Club des Femmes has initiated a project coinciding with CdF founder Selina Robertson’s PhD research on “a cultural history of intersectional feminist moving image exhibition in 1980s London” through a series of “re-imaginings, re-screenings, archival activations and reflections” at Rio Cinema. The first program this past weekend combined Margarethe von Trotta’s The Second Awakening of Christina Klages (1978, West Germany) with Leeds Animation Workshop’s Give Us a Smile (1983, UK). The series will continue to provide cross-cultural dialogues between films through the frame of feminist film exhibition histories. The second program will show Coup pour coup (Marin Karmitz, 1972, France) with short works by British artists Tina Keane and Anne Robinson.
    I also wanted to shout out the just-ending series REBEL FILMS, an ambitious partnership between CdF, Lizzie Borden, Courtisane, Elles Tournent and CINEMATEK in Brussels which has been going on for the last two months. It’s a really wide-ranging series of films that “traces the changing spaces in which women come together” in films directed by women from the 1930s up to today. I realized that the listings on CINEMATEK’s website, of all their fascinating programming, unfortunately disappears after films have shown. This is the case with a lot of institutions and I guess it makes this information feel pretty ephemeral. Luckily, the listing above on the Courtisane website still shows the entire program of the series.

  • Liberation War Film Week at the Cinémathèque Algérienne (Algiers)
    I thought this series of films focusing on the Algerian War of Independence was worth mentioning, as many know the most famous film in the series, The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966, Italy/Algeria), but probably not the others. The international selection of 13 films includes Youssef Chahine’s Djamila (1958, Egypt), focusing on Algerian freedom fighter Djamila Bouhired and made while the war was still ongoing; controversial French Communist filmmaker René Vautier’s To Be Twenty in the Aures (1972), his second Algerian War film after the 1963 documentary Peuple en marche; and three films made by Ahmed Rachedi between 1969–2015.

  • Harun Farocki at Cinémathèque de Tanger (Morocco)
    Nine films by Harun Farocki, “a German director whose work had a decisive influence on the history of political film,” are shown throughout February and March at the Cinémathèque de Tanger. Videograms of a Revolution (with Andrei Ujica, 1992), Inextinguishable Fire (1969) and War at a Distance (2003) are all worth watching, or re-watching, to think about the ways in which Farocki not only made films about political issues, but how he made films politically, really thinking through the ways one could construct films to break dominant modes of filmmaking and passive experiences of film consuming.

  • Black Light at Eye Filmmuseum (Amsterdam)
    The really excellent Black Light retrospective at last year’s Locarno Film Festival, curated by Greg De Cuir Jr., consisted of films from 1919–2000 highlighting “the representation of black identity in films.” Eye Filmmuseum present their take on the theme, with the participation of De Cuir through his ongoing Avant-Noir project and several of the same titles shown in Locarno, for example Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1992, UK/US) and Putney Swope (Robert Downey Sr., 1969, US). Eye’s series differs in its multidisciplinary focus on dance and theater, its specific focus on people of color in Dutch cinema and its inclusion of more recent films like Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017, US) and Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014, France/Mauritania).
    A particular highlight appears to be One People (Pim de la Parra, 1976), a Dutch-Surinamese romance-and-decolonization hybrid. It was the first narrative feature made in the South American country, premiering at Cannes 1976 just seven months after Suriname’s independence from the Netherlands. I’m not suggesting that the film is a masterpiece—it will have been made on the heels of de la Parra’s “erotic comedy tetralogy” of sleazy X films, some with ridiculous titles like My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie (1975)—but I’m not suggesting that it couldn’t be a worthwhile film to consider either.


Lots of cinemas around the world are closed right now

While speaking about exciting film screenings happening, I’d feel remiss to not acknowledge that due to the ongoing COVID-19/coronavirus epidemic, an increasing number of cinemas internationally are closing temporarily. Certainly cinema closures are widespread in mainland China—the second largest film market in the world—for measures of safety but also because distributors are delaying releases of new films, so there would be no films to show anyway. China’s CGTN reports how this is affecting film production and exhibition worldwide and how closures are currently increasing in South Korea as well. In terms of repertory cinemas, the Hong Kong Film Archive warns visitors:

“All LCSD museums and cultural venues will continue to be temporarily closed until 2 Mar 2020 (Mon), and programmes held at these venues during the same period will also be cancelled, to tie in with the response level for Novel Infectious Disease being raised to Emergency Response Level and avoid people from gathering. As the Hong Kong Film Archive is closed on Tuesdays, the venue will be reopened on 4 Mar 2020 (Wed) at the earliest, but the actual reopening date will be subject to further announcement. The refund arrangement of cancelled programmes during venue closure will also be announced later. For other enquiries, please contact the Duty Manager at 9098 9387 (10:00 – 17:30 daily).”

Our friends at the Asian Film Archive in Singapore have been conducting temperature taking and collecting visitor information at their screenings this month, and all March screenings have been canceled. Of course, the most important thing is safety, but it’s really sobering to think of the factors that can affect cinemagoing, something we all find so important. Keep informed of WHO advice and local advice. Stay safe everyone.


Reading

Is Berlinale over yet? Or has it just begun? I’m trying to avoid getting heavily sucked into coverage of it (saving that for the Democratic primaries) but I wanted to highlight that the Berlinale Forum Magazine can be viewed in its entirety online in PDF format, and as selected articles on the Arsenal website. Not only does it include full program notes and bios for the Forum 50th anniversary series and the lineup of the panel day, but also essays on the series by Diedrich Diederichsen, B. Ruby Rich, Anselm Franke, Luciano Monteagudo, Karina Griffith, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Nicole Brenez and more.

For the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s blog, Dana Reinoos writes on Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker (1953, US) and Terence Malick’s Badlands (1973, US), the February double-feature in BAM’s always excellent Beyond the Canon series. Reinoos finds that: “Badlands works as an appropriate title for both films[…] There’s so much empty, barren land, so many places to go, but nowhere to hide in all that isolation.”

Andrew Northrup, writing for Kinoscope on “Archive and Memory at IFFR 2020,” finds that “One of the mixed blessings that has arisen from the wider availability of archives online is that they are often hastily uploaded to internet repositories with basic metadata and categorization, meaning that they occasionally enter into another state of limbo and are only found by those conducting in-depth research. As that saturation increases, archival-driven projects like the above will undoubtedly become more and more valuable and no less diverse in the formal sense, and their prominence at IFFR 2020, despite no dedicated strand for them, is perhaps an indication of their increased presence in years to come.”


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Endnotes

  • Featured images: We Have Many Names (Mai Zetterling, 1976, Sweden) // To Be Twenty in the Aures (René Vautier, 1972, France) // Daïnah la métisse (Jean Grémillon, 1932, France) // On vous parle de Paris: Maspero, les mots ont un sens (Chris Marker, 1970, France)

  • More coming soon!

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