screenings & events...
two films for voice and image
Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver)
1979, 35mm b&w film, live subtitles, 48 mins
Aurélia Steiner (Melbourne)
1979, 16mm colour film, live subtitles, 27 mins
Tuesday 24th February 2015, 6.45pm
Ciné Lumière, London
Followed by a dialogue to discuss Duras's film work between poet, writer & critic Sophie Mayer and artist Jonathan Whitehall.
Marguerite Duras was a celebrated pillar of modernist French writing – above all perhaps for Moderato Cantabile, her superb novel of 1958, or L'amant (The Lover), her memoir of 1984.
But she also made distinctive, experimental, intensely authored films, notably India Song of 1975. Her extraordinary and wonderful screenplay for Alain Resnais's Hiroshima mon amour in 1959 earned her an Oscar nomination - astonishing for such a peerless exercise in rigorous high-brow intention. In her films Duras often detaches voice from the image, an effect that opens a space for the creation of prayerful, meditative moods.
And when the images are created with the help of cinematographer Pierre Lhomme, as they are in these two Aurélia Steiner films, the result is extraordinary – work that casts an incantatory spell, in which we experience a state, perhaps, of waking dream.
Who is Aurélia Steiner?
Aurélia Steiner may have existed, may have lived, may have spoken. In these films, we hear Duras ·(thankfully so in these French language prints we will screen) addressing someone, maybe us all, or maybe someone in particular. Duras has indicated that these films, the texts spoken, began a letter written to an acquaintance, and that this mode of addressing, appealing to an absent other, produces a stance that slips between narrative fiction and non-fiction, always coherently. And this gave her a way to write of the unwritable: the European catastrophe - the Shoah. These films slip between fiction, autobiography, quotation, impersonation. Aurélia Steiner is name, is a subject with a past or pasts> We probably cannot envisage her - though we end able to envisage the rupture of Jewish lives and histories. But there is too love, love and desire. To love is to lose self, or to gain a self. But the question raised, that even the sea's vastness cannot wash away, is whether anything be made whole, after what has happened? Even architecture and landscape and horizons are charged memorials and reminders.
Vancouver·is screening in the UK for the first time, and translated (by Charlotte Maconochie) and subtitled for the first time in English.
Melbourne is freshly translated (by Adam Roberts).
The films will be followed by a dialogue between Sophie Mayer and Jonathan Whitehall.
Sophie Mayer is the author of The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love (Wallflower, 2009) and Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (IB Tauris, 2015), as well as several collections of poetry. She is currently a lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary University London, a member of queer feminist film curators Club des Femmes, and a regular contributor to Sight & Sound and The F-Word.
Jonathan Whitehall is an artist whose practice explores temporality and desire. He completed his PhD by practice at the Royal College of Art, writing on the work of Duras; his article L’Image menaceé: Trois moments d’ Aurélia Steiner, was published in Photographies (Routledge).· Working principally with video, drawing and photography, Whitehall’s work is informed by psychoanalytical theories of fantasy and subjectivity. He has ·exhibited ·internationally, most recently in /seconds, at Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. His most recent publication is a collaboration with the artist Peter Fillingham, co-writing an article entitled Beyond Language: At the Seams of Seduction, in Derek Jarman Super 8, Ed. James Mackay, (Thames and Hudson). He currently teaches on the BA Fine Art, at Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design, London Metropolitan University.
With thanks to the L’Institut français in Paris and London, to the Centre Georges Pompidou, and to Michèle Kastner & Jean Mascolo at Benoît Jacob.
Continuing the Chantal Akerman retrospective
Akerman 18: a short and a feature
Le jour où
Un divan à New York
Thursday 12th March 2015, 7pm
We have not seen Le jour où, and so eagerly anticipate this screening.
Akerman told Nicole Brenez in the Lola 'Pajama Interview' in 2011 that it is, "at its heart, a homage to Godard".
dir. Chantal Akerman, 1997, 7 mins
The plot of Un divan à New York can read like the outline of a 50s melodrama: a dour New York psychoanalyst Henry (William Hurt) decides to house swap his Fifth Avenue apartment for a place in Paris. He ends up in the bohemian home of a dancer named Béatrice (Juliette Binoche). She is as insouciant as he is dour, and messy as he is tidy.
But Henry’s patients love Béatrice, and she finds she really can help them. Coming home, Henry finds his world in superb shape. Even his dog is happier. Henry has the wit to lie on her couch.
Akerman’s confection has a lightness that is hard to catch if in a hurry. Good to watch some Lubitsch beforehand to get into the mood. Then think of Peter Bogdanovich talking about Lubitsch’s style (and imagine that he is describing Akerman: “Something light, strangely indefinable, yet nonetheless tangible… one can feel this certain spirit; not only in the tactful and impeccably appropriate placement of the camera, the subtle economy of his plotting, the oblique dialogue which had a way of saying everything through indirection, but also - and particularly - in the performance of every single player, no matter how small the role." (read the whole article here.
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Hurt,
Dir. Chantal Akerman, 1996, 105 mins
For further Akerman screenings