From under the umbrella of the 11-day Providence French Film Festival (www.provfrenchfilm.com), Magic Lantern presents a series of experimental francophone films and videos that run the gamut from workplace ennui to reverse-ethnographies to formal Lettrist works to balloon massacres. Featuring work by 11 artists from 4 countries in 3 formats made over the last 4 decades, this curated screening offers a rare glimpse into the glorious traditions of Avant-Garde cinema as they exist outside the USA.
Featuring: Self Portrait Post Mortem by Louise Bourque (2:30, 35mm, 2002), La Femme qui se Poudre (A Woman Powdering Herself) by Patrick Bokanowski (18:00, 35mm, 1972), Autres C’est Les Autres (Les) by Fatmi Mounir (11:00, video, 1999), Going Back Home by Louise Bourque (2:30, 16mm, 2000), The Song of Rio Jim by Maurice Lemaitre (6:00, 16mm, 1978), The Last Long Shot by Cecile Fontaine (7:00, 16mm 2001), (w)hole (t)rous by Frederique Devaux (5:00, 16mm, 2000), Lunch Break on the Xerox Machine by Marie Losier (3:00, 16mm, 2003), Bouquets 1-10 by Rose Lowder (11:00, 16mm, 1994-1995), Mi Casa, Su Casa by Pierre Reimer (9:00, video, 2004), Fin de Siecle (Paris at the Turn of the 21st Century) by Pip Chodorov (5:00, 16mm, 1996)
Self Portrait Post Mortem by Louise Bourque (2:30, 35mm, 2002) An unearthed time capsule consisting of footage of the maker’s youth- ful self — an “exquisite corpse” with nature as collaborator. Bourque buried random out-takes from her first three films (all staged produc- tions dealing with her family) in the backyard of her ancestral home (adjoining the grounds of a former cemetery) with the ambivalent in- tentions of both safe-keeping and unloading them (she was relocating). Upon examining the footage five years later she found that the mat- erial contained images of herself captured during the making of her first film. That discovery seemed handed over like a gift and prompted the making of this film, a metaphysical pas-de-deux in which decay undermines the image and in the process engenders a transmutation.
La Femme qui se Poudre (A Woman Powdering Herself) by Patrick Bokanowski (18:00, 35mm, 1972) “…One notices these briefly passing creatures (one of which is, yes, a woman powdering herself) slowly and deliberately undertaking acts you don’t quite understand, but which are clearly of a ghastly nature (perhaps a murder?); one watches two ‘real’ characters suddenly change into ink spots while a bombardment of drawn or painted meteorites explodes on what might be the ‘earth’; one looks at somebody pouring coffee into a full cup which then overflows into an endlessly dark and ink-like trail; at which point you say to yourself that what is going on here, in this black and upsetting film, has the logic of a nightmare.” – Dominique Noguez
Autres C’est Les Autres (Les) by Fatmi Mounir (11:00, video, 1999) Moroccan-born video artist Mounir Fatmi engages the issue of his difference from the “average” Frenchman in the most direct manner possible: by stopping people in the street to ask them the question “Who are the others?” It is not only the answers he receives, but the interpretations of the question, that are revealing.
Going Back Home by Louise Bourque (30 seconds x 2, 16mm, 2000) The disasters of life can make it hard to go home. Bourque’s brief beautiful, and affecting film goes by so quickly it’s printed twice on the reel, so you can get a second look.
The Song of Rio Jim by Maurice Lemaitre (6:00, 16mm, 1978), From the founder of the French Lettrist Movement, a film history of the cowboy western – told not in images (there is only black leader), but in sound.
The Last Long Shot by Cecile Fontaine (7:00, 16mm 2001) Fontaine’s unique approach to found footage allows her to lift pieces of emulsion from the film base and then reapply them, wrinkled, torn, and twisted, to a whole new construction. The skin of the film, indeed!
(w)hole (t)rous by Frederique Devaux (5:00, 16mm, 2000) Devaux is devoted to a Lettrist approach to film, emphasizing fractures, fragments and noises gathered from everyday materials – here, mainly chopped-up subtitles from a 35mm film.
Lunch Break on the Xerox Machine by Marie Losier (3:00, 16mm, 2003) “For 3 months, every day at 1pm, I would hide in the copy room at work and lay my face on the Xerox machine. The result: an animation of my face eating my fist.” – Marie Losier
Bouquets 1-10 by Rose Lowder (11:00, 16mm, 1994-1995) “Bouquets 1-10 consists of ten one-minute films covering a variety of subjects. After working for nearly two decades on frame-by-frame in-the-camera structuring devices, I managed in this series to abandon the stationary camera while still retaining what I consider a necessary graphic coherence. The procedure is too intricate to describe briefly but basically it entails using the film strip as a canvas with the freedom to film frames on any part of the strip in any order, run- ning the film through the camera as many times as needed. Each bouquet of flowers is also a bouquet of frames mingling the plants to be found in a given place with the activities that happen to be there at the time.” – Rose Lowder
Mi Casa, Su Casa by Pierre Reimer (9:00, video, 2004) A post-conceptual artprank played out with the logic of the old videogame Circus Atari: abstract un- dulating fields of kiddie-party pink reveal themselves to be the soft targets of the filmmaker’s weapon- ized camera. By the end of Reimer’s latex slaughter-fest, tiny remnants of his victims are strewn across the room, leaving an airy paradox of satisfaction and emptiness. – Ed Halter
Fin de Siecle (Paris at the Turn of the 21st Century) by Pip Chodorov (5:00, 16mm, 1996) A joyful and lighthearted look at alienation. What you will see: ugly modern buildings, too many tourists, uniformity – everywhere the zsame cafés, the same shopping bags, beggars and homeless people, Senegalese hawkers selling little Eiffel towers, the police and people running from them, aggressive restaurant owners, crowded markets and metros, traffic jams and fumes, prostitutes, fistfights, clowns…
What you will hear: “Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals” by Carl Stalling, a medley of sound recordings from Warner Brother cartoons, 1941-50.