november 2018, arsenal cinema

A Tribute to Sergei Parajanov

Armenian-Georgian director and artist Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) is one of the most fascinating figures in 20th century cinema. Born in Tbilisi to Armenian parents, he grew up there before moving to Moscow to study at the VGIK film school and subsequently worked in the Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. The cultures, traditions, folklore, and myths of these countries and regions pervade his films, which continue to impress today thanks to their singular expressive power, unmistakable originality, complex visual compositions, and radically free cinematic forms. Celebrated as an outstanding filmmaker from the mid-60s both at home and beyond, Parajanov’s artistic audacity and multi-faceted approach to culture was met with increasing rejection in the Soviet Union, however. Interventions on the part of the censors were followed by prison terms spanning many years and a filmmaking ban; Parajanov was only able to make two further features once it was finally lifted. This ten-film tribute, which presents all of Parajanov’s eight still-extant features, including his rarely screened early works, now enables his work to be re-discovered. In cooperation with the Parajanov Museum in Yerevan (Armenia), an exhibition of Parajanov’s artistic works will be on show at the Filmmuseum Potsdam from 1.12. onwards.

november 2018, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour – 
Letters in Movement

Flowing cascades of signs, rotating words, dancing letters, scratched, embossed, double-exposed, superimposed, animated – from the very beginning of cinema, printed characters have been freed from their static identity and made dynamic in multiple ways. Letters that succumb to movement have very different functions in this new system: they open or close films, act as a commentary or a metaphor (of storytelling), as providers of information or graphic elements, as a dramatic tool or an emotionalizing factor. Writing in film opens up new areas of association, posing questions about visibility and structure, perception and materialism, mise-en-scene and innovation. This is what we want to explore in the Magical History Tour’s excursion into the moving world of letters, presenting examples of how writing has been dealt with in fiction, avant-garde and experimental cinema as well as in "classic" writing or Lettrist films.

november 2018, arsenal cinema

AFRIKAMERA 2018: The Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa region is more known for its armed conflicts and political, social, and humanitarian crises than for its cinema culture. Even if the number of local productions is far more modest than that of the continent’s Francophone countries, a lively film scene has sprung up in recent years. AFRIKAMERA 2018 – The Horn of Africa presents a selection of current features and documentaries from and about the region as well as from neighboring East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Ruanda.

november 2018, arsenal cinema

The Living Word – The Films of Eugène Green

The films of Eugène Green form some of the boldest, most unique, and most charming attractions in contemporary cinema. Since making his directorial debut at the age of 53 with TOUTES LES NUITS (2001), he has consistently retained his own personal, inimitable style and developed it further: schooled in the film poetics of Robert Bresson, his actors perform in anti-psychological, minimalist fashion, reciting their lines while looking directly into the camera or with their gaze fixed on the person they’re addressing with penetrating directness. Drawing on the full sound and force of language, they celebrate each syllable with baroque enjoyment, even as the form of expression stems from the language of the present day. Green’s visual compositions (for which Raphaël O’Byrne has been responsible from his very first film onwards) move between fragmentation and the intense presence of bodies and faces. With these stylistic fixtures as a starting point, LE MONDE VIVANT (2003) went on to add a degree of laconic, mischievous wit to the mix, giving his works their tragi-comic potential. His progressively materialistic approach to staging was equally accompanied by an increased degree of spiritual content. The origins of his cinema and its relationship to language stem from a desire articulated by Émilie, the female lead of TOUTES LES NUITS: “I’ve never been looking for happiness, but rather for joy.”

Eugène Green was born in the US and came to Europe at an early age, eventually setting in Paris in the late 60s after brief stays in Czechoslovakia and Munich. It was in the French capital that he founded the Théâtre de la Sapience in 1977, which conceived of baroque theatre in new, contemporary ways. From the end of the 90s, he also made his debut as an author of poetry volumes, novels, essays, and notes on a “Poetics of the Cinematographer” (2009).

We are showing Eugène Green’s entire cinematic oeuvre to date, with the director in attendance on the two first evenings: eight features and four shorter works.