Category Archives: News

Chris Marker, Never Explain, Never Complain @ DOXA

There is a new film out entitled Chris Marker, Never Explain, Never Complain, by Jean-Marie Barbe & Arnaud Lambert. The film is to be shown as part of the 2017 DOXA Festival called “French, French” taking place 4-14 Mai 2017 at the Cinémathèque in Vancouver, BC, and will move to theh Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley after that (not sure of dates yet). For the news and the PDF of the DOXA press booklet I am grateful to Christine van Assche.

The festival will show recent French documentary films alongside a selection of Marker’s work, including Une Journée d’Andrei Arsenevitch, Le Souvenir d’un avenir, Chats perchés, Le Tombeau d’Alexandre, Le Fond de l’air est rouge, and L’Héritage de la chouette.

The program is curated by Thierry Garrel. If you dig a bit, you can find a Marker-related essay by Garrel on the DOXA site called “Two Cats, An Owl and a Lot of Nice Human Beings.” Garell writes:

As an opening to this retrospective, Chris Marker, Never Explain, Never Complain (2016), by Jean-Marie Barbe and Arnaud Lambert, portrays the cinéaste and his works through the testimonies of seven people who knew him and worked with him – including Wim Wenders, Patricio Guzman, and … yours truly, as I had the privilege to collaborate on the production side while working for French Television at INA, La Sept and ARTE, with all the films presented!

Here’s the text from the program on the new bio-essay-doc:

Chris Marker, Never Explain, Never Complain

Jean-Marie Barbe & Arnaud Lambert, France, 2016, 144mn

La vie et l’oeuvre de Chris Marker pourraient remplir plusieurs volumes — même un train de marchandises ! — mais Jean-Marie Barbe et Arnaud Lambert les brossent allègrement en tout juste 144 minutes. En répondant à la question : “Qui est Chris Marker ?”, chacun de leurs interlocuteurs convoquent à chaque fois un univers et des réalités différentes. Comme Wim Wenders, qui s’est saoulé à mort avec Marker dans un bar de Tokyo : “Cette nuit à La Jetée, nous avons parlé, parlé, mais nous avons bu tant de sake et de vodka… que j’ai presque tout oublié”. Ou André S. Labarthe, qui résume : “c’était un esprit libre.” Ce qui est sûr, c’est que tout au long de sa carrière, Marker ne s’est jamais satisfait de n’être qu’un ni de ne faire qu’une seule chose. Écrivain, cinéaste, photographe, érudit, dessinateur, amoureux des chats – on ne saurait le qualifier en un mot. Sinon peut-être : génie.

The life and work of Chris Marker could easily fill several documentary portraits, maybe even several freight trains, but directors Jean-Marie Barbe and Arnaud Lambert have kept it to a brisk 144 minutes. “Who is Chris Marker?” — is the question posed by the directors/interlocutors, and every answer reveals a different reality. Some of the recollections are funny and bittersweet, such as Wim Wenders getting blind drunk with Marker at a bar in Tokyo. “That night at La Jetée is the time when we talked most, but we drank so much sake and vodka that we forgot most of it,” says Wenders. As André S. Labarthe states simply: “He was a free spirit.” One thing is clear, over the length of his career, Marker was never content to do or be only one thing. Writer, filmmaker, photographer, polymath, cartoonist, cat lover — there is no single term that quite suffices. Except, perhaps, genius. -DW

Download Program (PDF)

Check out the DOXA site for more information.

Here’s the page for the Chris Marker retrospective.

According to the DOXA site, “Jean-Marie Barbe is the president of Tënk, the first online platform dedicated solely to auteur documentary. The goal is to provide access to the very best in nonfiction cinema to the widest possible audience. Tënk’s curatorial team of discerning documentary professionals selects films, drawn from festivals, and organizes them thematically.” [source]

Arnaud Lambert is no newcomer to Chris Marker investigations. He is the author of the brilliant, comprehensive volume – in French despite its English title – Also Known as Chris Marker, published in 2013 by LePointduJour.

Arte to Release “La Trilogie des Balkans” Chris Marker DVD

balkan-trilogy

In an email from April 26th, Sabrina Bendali of Arte France writes of the upcoming release of three Chris Marker films that have been put together into a “Balkan Trilogy.”  The overall title of the DVD is La trilogie des Balkans, set for DVD release on June 7, 2016 and containing the following films:

  • Le 20 heures dans les camps (1993, 26″)
  • Casque Blue (1995, 26″)
  • Un maire au Kosovo (2000, 27″)

Additional materials and details:

  • Slon Tango (4 min. short)
  • interviews with François Crémieux and Jean-Michel Frodon (30 min.)
  • accompanying booklet (20 pages)
  • TRT: 2 hours
  • Language: French with French sub-titles for deaf and hearing-impaired

“Je me permets de vous écrire pour vous signaler la parution le 7 juin prochain du dvd La trilogie des Balkans, dvd qui comprend trois films : Le 20 heures dans les camps, Casque Bleu et Un maire au Kosovo.

Ensemble, ces trois brèves réalisations offrent une perception d’une rare acuité de ce qui s’est joué en ex-Yougoslavie durant la dernière décennie du 20e siècle. […]

Merci et bonne fin de journée.
Sabrina Bendali, Service press ARTE Éditions

More information and purchase are available at boutique.arte.tv/f11125-chris_marker_trilogie_balkans

Here’s an overview from the press release:

À travers les décennies et les convulsions de l’histoire, Chris Marker a toujours fait preuve d’une réactivité sensible et intelligente aux événements de la planète. Ce fut à nouveau le cas avec les guerres balkaniques des années 1990 : 45 ans après la fin de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, la guerre était de retour en Europe, des camps de concentration étaient ouverts à 500 km de Munich. En 1991-1995, une ville d’Europe symbole du multiculturalisme, Sarajevo, subissait le plus long siège de l’histoire moderne, les civils étaient abattus en pleine rue, la purification ethnique justifiait massacres et viols de masse, la communauté internationale prouvait que, malgré les leçons du siècle qui se terminait, elle restait impuissante à empêcher l’horreur, quand elle n’en devenait pas complice comme à Srebrenica. Dès le début des conflits en ex-Yougoslavie, Marker fut l’un des premiers à réagir. Il devait leur consacrer trois films, chaque fois selon une perspective originale qui, décalant l’observation journalistique ou le plaidoyer de principe, approchent davantage la vérité de ce qui est en train de se jouer, et les liens de ces événements avec le reste du monde.

Rough English Translation

Across the decades and the convulsions of history, Chris Marker always proved himself a sensible and intelligent guide to the events of the planet. This was true once again in the case of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Forty-five years after the end of World War II, war returned to Europe. Concentration camps were opened around 500 kilometers from Munich. From 1991 to 1995, the European city Sarajevo, symbol of multi-culturalism, suffered the longest siege in modern history. Civilians were killed in the middle of the street, ethnic ‘purification’ justified massacres and mass rapes. The international community proved that, despite the lessons of the century that was ending, it remained impotent at preventing such horror, even becoming complicit in the case of Srebenica. From the beginning of the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia, Marker was one of the first to react. He devoted himself to three films, each time following an original perspective which, offsetting journalistic observation or ethical plea, approached the truth of what was unfolding, and the links of these events to the rest of the world.

jaquette-trilogie-balkans

Special thanks to Christine van Assche for the ‘jacquette’ image above. Click to enlarge.

Film Summaries

Le 20 heures dans les camps – 26 min
1993. Au camp de Roska en Slovénie, des réfugiés bosniaques, dépouillés de tout ce qui leur appartenait, entreprennent de se réapproprier au moins l’information, en créant une télévision sur cassettes dotée de tous les éléments de la “vraie” télévision : présentateurs, jingles et piratage des émissions qui parlent d’eux.

Casque bleu – 26 min
Le témoignage d’un jeune médecin conscrit qui s’est engagé en 1994 comme casque bleu pour partir en mission en Bosnie. Après 6 mois dans la poche de Bihac, François Crémieux est de retour en France. Quel bilan tire-t-il de son expérience ? Que reste-t-il de ses attentes, de ses projections, de ses fantasmes d’avant le départ ?

Un maire au Kosovo – 27 min
En 1999 Marker recueille le témoignage de Bajram Rexhepi maire de Mitrovitsa, ville devenue célèbre à cause de son pont qui la coupait en deux et séparait la population albanaise du dernier bastion serbe. Bajram Rexhepi a été engagé comme chirurgien, dans l’Armée de libération du Kosovo. Il parle de son engagement et analyse avec lucidité les circonstances qui l’ont fait maire de Mitrovitsa.

PS: For those in Paris on May 28th, check out this symposium on Chris Marker et la photographie: www.fabula.org/actualites/….

Chris Marker et la photographie

chris-marker-et-la-photographie

What: Journée d’étude | Day of Study

Title: Chris Marker et la photographie | Chris Marker and Photography

Who: Vincent Jacques, avec la participation de | with the participation of:

  • Philippe Bazin
  • Christa Blümlinger
  • Pierre Gaudin
  • Vincent Jacques
  • François Niney
  • Bamchade Pourvali

When: samedi 28 mai 2016 | Saturday May 28th, 2016 – Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), Salle Vasari | 2, rue Vivienne – 75002 Paris

Additional information at fabula.org: la recherche en littérature & www.ciph.org.

Chris Marker et la photographie

Organisation scientifique : Vincent Jacques (ENSA Versailles / LéaV)

Samedi 28 mai 2016 à 10h

Salle Vasari, Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), 2 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris

S’il s’est fait mondialement reconnaître comme cinéaste grâce à des films comme La Jetée, Le fond de l’air est rouge ou Sans Soleil, le cinéma et la vidéo n’épuisent pas la pratique de l’image de Chris Marker. En effet, une constante de son oeuvre consiste en l’usage de la photographie. Entre 1956 où il publie son premier portfolio Clair de Chine dans la revue Esprit et l’exposition Passengers à New York dans les galeries de Peter Blum en 2011, il aura pratiqué le genre à intervalle régulier et publié cinq recueils de photo, Les Coréennes (1959), La Renfermée. La Corse (1981), Le Dépays (1982), Staring Back (2007) et Passengers (2011). Quatre de ces recueils sont accompagnés d’un texte de l’auteur (La Corse est écrit par Marie Susini) : comme c’est le cas dans toute la production de Marker, quel que soit le médium, la photographie participe d’une démarche plus large que l’exploitation d’une seule modalité d’expression.

Notre journée d’étude se propose donc d’aborder l’oeuvre par le biais de la photographie, c’est-à-dire d’étudier le travail photographique de Marker en lui-même et dans le cadre d’une démarche plus générale. Soulignons d’emblée que ce travail n’a jamais vraiment été entrepris, les textes sur Marker étant quasi exclusivement consacrés à ses films tandis que les histoires de la photographie contemporaine font systématiquement l’impasse sur cette part de l’oeuvre. L’approche du travail photographique de Marker se fera selon trois axes. 1- Analyser comment l’auteur brouille la limite entre les genres (cinéma, essai, installation, jeux vidéo…) dans une recherche constante de nouvelles articulations entre l’image et le texte. 2- Étudier comment se construisent les séries de photographies en vue d’écrire et de réécrire en permanence la mémoire du siècle, à la lisière de l’intime et du collectif. 3- Aborder la question du traitement informatique de l’image photographique : quels sont les enjeux des manipulations opérées grâce aux logiciels de retouche numérique qui deviennent la marque de fabrique des dernières photos de Marker ?www.fabula.org

Programme

•10h-10h15 | Accueil des participants
•10h15-11h | Philippe Bazin (École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Dijon) : « Les transports de Chris Marker. À propos de Passengers ».
•11h-11h45 | Christa Blümlinger (Université Paris 8, ESTCA) : « L’attraction du Musée. Notes sur Chris Marker ».
11h45-12h : Pause
•12h-12h45 | Pierre Gaudin (École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles) : « La photographie filmée comme document-matière et document-mémoire chez Chris Marker : prise de vue photographique et montage cinématographique ».
12h45-14h45 : Pause déjeuner
•14h45-15h30 | Vincent Jacques (École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles, LEAV) : « Floue, lisse, pliée : métamorphoses de la photo chez Chris Marker ».
•15h30-16h15 | François Niney (La Fémis, IRCAV) : « Un battement de cil, un battement de coeur : photo animée et photogramme arrêté, le “cinémarker” entre reprise et suspens du temps ».
16h15-16h30 : Pause
•16h30-17h15 | Bamchade Pourvali (Université de Paris Est-Marne la Vallée) : « Philosophie de la photographie et mise en page chez Chris Marker ».
17h30 : Fin de la journée

Chris Marker Month at MUBI

Our friends at MUBI are putting on a Chris Marker retrospective this Summer, giving UK members the ability to see Chris Marker films online for a small monthly fee. I’m trying to get more details on the programming & country limitations, so please check back here. Note 7/28/15: I’ve confirmed that the retrospective is limited to the UK site.

We’ve been adding one title a week for the past three weeks, and from tomorrow July 29th (and as I’m sure you know, the anniversary of Marker’s birth and death) the four of them will be live.

IN CELEBRATION OF CHRIS MARKER
This summer we’ll be hosting a retrospective on one of our all-time favourite auteurs, Master film & video essayist Chris Marker. Each week we’ll play one of his most iconic works.MUBI Marker Month

MUBI is known for its informed, eclectic and globe-spanning programming. The site has a large archive of films known and unknown, a selection of which are available live at any given time. MUBI screens classics and obscure indie films alike, all curated by people with great taste & wide-ranging interests. You won’t find this cinéphilic catalog on Netflix. In addition, extensive user-contributed lists, ratings, favorites & following functionality add a social media dimension to the site.

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Fonds Chris Marker – 550 Grands Cartons chez Cinémathèque française

Pleased to see a web presence for the estate of Chris Marker at the Cinémathèque française: www.cinematheque.fr. Here is the current communication available, discussing the reception of 550 large boxes from the Marker’s personal estate, the sum total of his books, harddrives, memorabilia, computers, press clippings, keepsakes from uncountable years of travel. What followed and still follows is an inventory of all these materials. This article represents a ‘state of the estate’ two years in to a three year project of conservation and curation. We will get this translated into English [State of the Estate] as soon as possible.

Fonds Chris Marker : où en est l’inventaire ?

Au printemps 2013, la Cinémathèque française a accueilli dans ses réserves 550 grands cartons de déménagement contenant les archives de Chris Marker, décédé durant l’été de l’année précédente. Sous la conduite d’un comité scientifique composé de personnalités proches du cinéaste et familières de son œuvre, l’inventaire du fonds a débuté rapidement. La durée totale de l’opération était estimée à environ trois années. Où en est-on, deux ans après ?

Les 550 cartons qui composent le fonds se répartissent comme suit :

5 cartons d’affiches ; 6 cartons de disques vinyles, documents sonores ; 15 cartons de photographies ; 39 cartons d’appareils informatiques, vidéo et disques durs ; 55 cartons d’objets, miniatures… ; 66 cartons de supports audiovisuels (Beta, master…) ; 98 cartons d’archives (presse documentation, dossiers) ; 112 cartons de VHS et DVD édités et d’enregistrements personnels ; 137 cartons de périodiques et d’ouvrages.

A ce jour, les cartons de photographies ont été entièrement inventoriés, bien que toutes les photos n’aient pas encore pu être identifiées. De même, l’inventaire des appareils est achevé. La bibliothèque de Chris Marker, riche de quelque 137 cartons, a fait l’objet d’un travail approfondi en voie d’achèvement. Bibliothèque de travail, et non de collectionneur, elle présente la singularité que chaque ouvrage est truffé de documents divers : correspondances, coupures de presse, etc. Chaque volume a ainsi dû faire l’objet d’une description précise des éléments qu’il contenait. Pour rendre compte de cette bibliothèque, le rapport d’inventaire sera certes instructif, mais à l’évidence insuffisant. Un projet de bibliothèque virtuelle est donc à l’étude.

L’inventaire se poursuit actuellement avec les objets, les affiches, les supports audiovisuels et les archives papier. Ce travail devrait être achevé à l’automne 2015. L’inventaire des disques durs, sur lesquels Chris Marker a travaillé au cours des vingt dernières années de sa vie, a également débuté. Ces disques contiennent plusieurs millions de fichiers. Mener à bien la description de ces contenus sera un travail de longue haleine. De même, un premier travail a été mené sur le fonds de près d’un millier de disquettes informatiques, par une conservatrice spécialiste de ce type de support. Un travail de sauvegarde et de restauration, préalable indispensable à l’inventaire des contenus, sera mené dans les prochains mois.

Dans le courant de l’automne, ce sont les collections de VHS, DVD, CD et disques vinyle qui seront inventoriés, permettant ainsi, à l’horizon de l’été 2016, d’avoir analysé l’ensemble des cartons du fonds et d’avoir ainsi une première vue globale de sa cohérence et de sa richesse. Le travail de catalogage pourra alors commencer, l’objectif demeurant de mettre le fonds à la disposition des chercheurs à l’horizon de 2018, en même temps qu’il sera présenté sous forme d’une grande exposition à la Cinémathèque française, sur laquelle le comité scientifique commence déjà à travailler.

Rappelons que ce comité est composé de : Raymond Bellour, écrivain, critique, chercheur et enseignant ; Laurence Braunberger, productrice ; Jean-Michel Frodon, journaliste et enseignant ; Raymonde Morin-Bouche, représentant la succession Chris Marker ; Serge Toubiana, directeur général de la Cinémathèque française ; Christine Van Asche, conservatrice honoraire au Centre Georges Pompidou.Joël Daire, avec le concours de Valérie Sanroma-Kernke et Marie Bergue

Chris Marker Archives Postcard

François Maspero Passes

Finally, I cannot forget to mention Chris Marker, without whom, quite simply I would not have become what I am. Among others, it was he who shared with me the ideal that was then behind Peuple et Culture, and much besides: a whole vision of the world where dreams were always at the heart of reality; for without dreams (unlike utopia) you can only live life as a vegetable. He, too – even more so – gave me this love for life, this life force, not to give up on what you have committed to doing.
François Maspero, “An interview with François Maspero: ‘A few misunderstandings'”, versobooks.com

Thanks to John Burgan, posting to the Chris Marker group on Facebook, I have learned of the death of François Maspero, radical French publisher and subject of Chris Marker’s 1970 film Les mots ont un sens. He was born 19 January 1932, grew up in the Resistence during the war that took his parents (his father at Buchenwald), became an estimed and controversial publisher, then author, and passed on 11 April 2015.

François Maspero

François Maspero, the French publisher, bookstore owner and writer who published much of the great leftwing writing of the ‘sixties—authors like Frantz Fanon and Louis Althusser, writings against torture, against Stalinism, against the Algerian and the Vietnam War—died today at age 83. His bookstore was occasionally bombed and his publications banned, perhaps most famously when he published Alleg’s “La Question,” which made public the systematic use of torture by the French in Algeria.John Burgan, Filmmaker

DISPARITION Indépendance de l’Algérie, révolution cubaine : l’éditeur et libraire engagé, devenu écrivain sur le tard, est mort samedi à 83 ans.

L’éditeur et écrivain François Maspero est mort à Paris le 11 avril. Son ami médecin, le rhumatologue Marcel-Francis Kahn, raconte dans quelles conditions sur le site de Mediapart, où il a annoncé le décès le soir même : «Alerté par une fuite d’eau, on l’a découvert dimanche mort dans sa baignoire. Il avait passé la journée du vendredi 10 avec moi, qui l’avais amené dans une clinique de banlieue où il a subi un examen radiologique demandé par le spécialiste qui le suivait. Il avait 83 ans. Hier, on honorait la libération de Buchenwald où est mort son père. Je connaissais François depuis près de quarante ans et, au fil des ans, il était devenu mon meilleur ami.» Tous ceux qu’il a édités entre 1959 et 1982, à l’enseigne des éditions Maspero, tous les militants qu’il a soutenus, tous les lecteurs de l’œuvre personnelle qu’il a entreprise à partir des années 80 : il y a beaucoup de monde dans la cohorte de ceux qui se souviennent de lui.
Claire Devarrieux, “François Maspero, héraut de toutes les luttes“, Libération, 13 avril 2015

Here is Marker’s film via dailymotion.com.

Les mots ont un sens de Chris Marker

There is a transcript of the film’s commentary (French only) at www.chrismarker.ch (PDF). I have also exported this document to Rich Text format, which can be opened in Word, Pages, and other word processing programs: Les mots ont un sens – François Maspero (RTF)

It strikes me – and I may well be wrong here – that this court métrage may be the last film of Marker’s that we hear his own voice supplying the commentary. For a non-native speaker, Marker’s voice is difficult to parse, quite different from the narrator voices that came before in La Jetée and later in Sans Soleil, to give but two examples. Maspero, for his part, speaks extremely quickly. The film comes across as a conversation between peers rather than taking the more journalistic interview approach we saw in Le joli mai, where Marker is perceivably less comfortable in asking questions of his subjects (while avoiding being filmed himself). Voix off, toujours…

Here’s some additional background on Marker’s film on Maspero, from Catherine Lupton:

Number 5 in the series, On vous parle de Paris: Maspero, les mots ont un sens (1970, ‘Maspero, Words Have a Meaning’), is an affectionate portrait of the left-wing publisher and bookshop owner François Maspero, who was a contributor to Far From Vietnam and would later publish the commentary to Le Fond de l’air est rouge. Maspero is one of the most satisfying and likeable of Marker’s films from this period, achieving an exemplary balance of quirky human warmth with a clear and inventive form of political argument. Premised on the idea that ‘for Maspero, words have a meaning’ – or expressed differently, that books have an active role to play in the global revolutionary movement – the film is divided into seven sections: Quotation, Introduction, Selection, Definition, Information, Recuperation and Contradiction, each prefaced by an image of the word torn from a dictionary and placed on a black ground. Catherine Lupton, Chris Marker: Memories of the Future, 122-123

Works of François Maspero

  • Le Sourire du chat, roman, 1984.
  • Le Figuier, roman, 1988.
  • Les Passagers du Roissy-Express, 1990, photographies d’Anaïk Frantz. Prix Novembre.
  • Paris bout du monde, 1992, texte de l’album de photographies d’Anaïk Frantz.
  • L’Honneur de Saint-Arnaud, chronique historique, 1993.
  • Le Temps des Italiens, récit, 1994.
  • La Plage noire, récit, 1995.
  • Balkans-Transit, photographies de Klavdij Sluban, chronique d’un voyage, 1997. Prix Radio France internationale, « Témoins du monde ».
  • Che Guevara, introduction aux photographies de René Burri, 1997.
  • Les Abeilles et la Guêpe, 2002.
  • Transit & Cie, récit, La Quinzaine, 2004.
  • Le Vol de la mésange, nouvelles, 2006.
  • L’Ombre d’une photographe. Gerda Taro, biographie, Fiction et Cie, 2006.
  • Des saisons au bord de la mer, roman, Seuil, 2009.

The Cat’s Grin

One other item of interest linking Maspero and Marker is the book The Cat’s Grin by Maspero (in its English translation). This book is still available, for instance here at amazon.com. A reader offers the following cogent review:

Cat's Grin by François MasperoCat’s Grin is an extremely personal and profound look at the Occupation and Liberation of France through the eyes of a boy plowing through both adolesence and this tumultuous time period. Cat (Luc) recalls pre-war France and his family life so precisely that the reader lives it too. As his life begins to unravel, Cat responds in his typical hilarious and wise fashion. He goes on a brave, desperate search for his beloved brother, Antoine, a fighter for the Resistance; leads his fellow schoolboys in paper airplane flying adventures in the Luxembourg gardens; and finally must come to terms with the unendurable impacts of the war. With writing that is both stark and eloquent, Cat’s Grin will sneak into your heart and stay there for a long time.Erin Byrne, amazon.com, April 13, 2007

Marker, of course, went on to give the name “Grin Without a Cat” to the English version of Le fond de l’air est rouge, in which he traces the origins, events and viscissitudes of the radical politics and protest in the 60s and 70s. The French original appeared in 1977, with the revised, expanded – and retitled – English version arriving 1988.

Obituaries & Further Reading

The Verso piece is particularly fascinating, as Maspero gives us a great gift, his own perspective on himself and his times. It serves in a way as a fascinating sequel in words to Marker’s film, across the years.

François Maspero, 2006

Duncan Campbell – Essay Film Homage to Marker & Resnais Wins 2014 Turner Prize

From the New York Times, 1 December 2014:

Inspired by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais’s 1953 film, “Statues Also Die,” which was shown alongside “It for Others,” Mr. Campbell mixed images of African artifacts, consumer items and a dance work by the British choreographer Michael Clark in which the performers trace words and equations from Marx’s “Das Kapital” with their bodies. Mr. Campbell’s film, like “Statues Also Die,” tackles cultural imperialism: the appropriation of African artifacts by Western institutions. But the film, about an hour long, also suggests, in a section on an uprising during the Irish Troubles in the early 1970s, that the ownership and manipulation of images are not confined to the art world.Roslyn Sulcas, Innovative Filmmaker Wins Turner Prize for Art, nytimes.com

From The Guardian, 1 December 2014:

Turner prize 2014: Duncan Campbell wins Britain’s prestigious art award

Irish favourite takes prize for ‘essay film’ It for Others, which uses dance, the IRA and Marxism to explore the value of art

The judges called Duncan Campbell’s work ‘an ambitious and complex film which rewards repeated viewing’.

A 54-minute “essay film” that refers to IRA martyrdom, Marxist theory and anthropomorphic ketchup dispensers as it explores the value of art won its maker Duncan Campbell the 2014 Turner prize.

It was by no means a surprise. Campbell, aged 42 and probably the best known of the four artists shortlisted, had been the bookmakers’ favourite all along to take a prize created 30 years ago to “promote discussion of new developments in contemporary British art”.

His film, It for Others, was first seen at the Scottish pavilion of the Venice Biennale in the summer of 2013.

The Turner prize judges called it “an ambitious and complex film which rewards repeated viewing”. They also “admired his exceptional dedication to making a work which speaks about the construction of value and meaning in ways that are topical and compelling”.

The film was inspired by a 1953 work by Alain Resnais and Chris Marker called Statues Also Die, which explored and lamented the colonial commercialisation of African art.Mark Brown, Turner prize 2014: Duncan Campbell wins Britain’s prestigious art award, theguardian.com

CNN, seemingly unfamiliar with Chris Marker, contributes this take and goes on to discuss a controversy surrounding the reception; as Marker and Resnais’ film was banned upon release, the controversial nature of Campbell’s work is fitting.

His film, It For Others, which was described by the panel as “an ambitious and complex film which rewards repeated viewing”, is a response to a “film essay” from 1953 about African art and colonialism.

This archive footage is interspersed with new material, including a dance routine based on the equations in Karl Marx’s seminal work, “Das Kapital,” created by the choreographer Michael Clark.

All of this is overlaid with a voiceover that imitates the style of a lecture.

[…]

Digby Warde-Aldam, the art critic for the UK’s Spectator magazine, said: “Surely no arbiter in their right mind could have let such hectoring, cultural studies-sanctioned guff slip through the net?”

“If you’re serious about the rubbish on show this year, you are insulting every artist working in Britain today,” he said.

Jake Wallis Simons, Turner Prize 2014 won by Irish film artist Duncan Campbell, cnn.com

About Duncan Campbell

Campbell, who lives in Scotland, is a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. He is the fourth alumni of the school to have won the prize in the last 10 years. For more on Campbell and the GSoA, see scotlandnow.dailyrecord.co.uk.

Filming Das Kapital

Karl Marx’ seminal work has been back in the spotlight of late, due of course to the success of French scholar Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century [orig. Le capital au XXIe siècle, Paris, Seuil, 2013). Campbell’s work is not the first attempt to draw Marx’ masterwork into filmic expression. Eisenstein worked on a version of the book as film in 1927-1928, after the completion of October and while working on The General Line (1929).

Eighty years later, Alexander Kluge – the wunderkind polymath pupil of T.W. Adorno, a political philosopher, filmmaker, television producer and prolific short story writer – produced a monumental 9 1/2 hour film entitled Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike – Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Capital. For more on Kluge’s production, see Julia Vassilieva, “Capital and Co.: Kluge/Eisenstein/Marx”, Screening the Past.

Harun Farocki 1944-2014

Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki was born in 1944 in German-annexed Czechoslovakia. From 1966 to 1968 he attended the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). In addition to teaching posts in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Manila, Munich and Stuttgart, he has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Farocki has made close to 90 films, including three feature films, essay films and documentaries. He has worked in collaboration with other filmmakers as a scriptwriter, actor and producer. In 1976 he staged Heiner Müller’s plays The Battle and Tractor together with Hanns Zischler in Basel, Switzerland.

Since 1966 he has written for numerous publications, and from 1974 to 1984 he was editor and author of the magazine Filmkritik (München). His work has shown in many national and international exhibitions and installations in galleries and museums.

Thanks to Dirk K., who sent the following news and citation. I will have so much more to say, when it is time… Dirk writes:

Harun Farocki died yesterday.

He certainly understood a thing or two about Marker, the modus operandi of Sans Soleil, and its effects:

SANS SOLEIL … has an extraordinary text — a text that emanates from a lifetime’s preoccupation with cinema, as you just sketched it. This text can also be reproduced without the film, by which I do not at all imply that the images in the film are somehow worthless. Rather, the text has had such a strong effect that in some places nobody paid much attention to the images. To give a small example: there is a scene in SANS SOLEIL where the camera accompanies two people visiting a grave. It rushes ahead of them and waits for them at the graveside, just like a television crew would do it, if it had the time and a chance to stage things. Why does the camera rush ahead? — this sort of question has not generated any critical energy. I probably write, or rather: occupy myself with writing, in order to determine the difference between film and text. I want to make films that are not that far removed from texts, and that are nonetheless very distinct.

Harun Farocki: Working on the Sightlines, ed. Thomas Elsaesser. Feb 2014, 180

OK, me again. Here are some preliminary reflections from Germany, France and the US.

Obits & Appreciations

Zum Tode Harun Farockis: Einzelkämpfer gegen die Macht der Bilder
spiegel.de

Harun Farocki, Celebrated Filmmaker, Dead at 70
news.artnet.com

Harun Farocki n’expérimentera plus
next.liberation.fr

Harun Farocki: Der ungeschminkte Blick auf die Realität
zeit.de

Der Filmemacher Harun Farocki ist gestorben
welt.de

Regisseur Harun Farocki tot
spex.de

Watch Harun Farocki Explain His Final Solo Show
news.artnet.com

Further Reading

I will be posting further articles on Farocki as they appear to my Google + page. I will also brush up a dusty article I wrote on Images of the World and the Inscription of War, potentially Farocki’s most prominent essay film.

If you have not read Farocki’s printed essays, a good manual to have is his (regrettably out of print to my knowledge) book Nachdruck/Imprint Texte/Writings, ed. Susanne Gaensheimer, Nicolaus Schafhausen, trans. Laurent Faasch-Ibrahim, assistant ed. Volker Pantenburg, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2001. Most recently, Farocki published Harun Farocki: Diagrams: Images from Ten Films, along with Thomas Elsaesser and Maren Grimm, with Benedikt Reichenbach as editor. He is also co-author with Paul Virilio of the hyper-contemporary Serious Games: War-Media-Art, like Nachdruck/Imprint bi-lingual in English and German.

Soda Pictures Releases 3 DVD Chris Marker Collection in English

Chris Marker Collection, a 3 DVD set of Chris Marker films published to coincide with the Whitechapel exhibition currently running in London, is out! The 3 DVD collection of Chris Marker films was published June 2, 2014 by SODA Film+Art and is now available for purchase. It’s a thrilling addition to Marker’s English-language releases. Without further ado, here are the overall details on the release. We’ll ad some additional images down the road.

Chris Marker Collection DVD set

Contents

BLU-RAY

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)

DVD 1

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)
  • Description of a Struggle (Description d’un combat, 1960, 60 min)

DVD 2

  • The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (La Sixiéme face du Pentagone, 1968, 27 min)
  • The Embassy (L’Ambassade, 1973, 20 min)
  • Theory of Sets (Théorie des ensembles, 1991, 11 min)
  • Three Video Haikus (Trois Vidéo Haikus, 1994, 3 min)
  • Blue Helmet (Casque blue, 1996, 26 min)
  • E-CLIP-SE (1999, 8 min)
  • The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés, 2004, 59 min)

Blu-Ray tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | Running time: 80 mins. approx. | Audio LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Language English/French with English subtitles S| Region B | Colour | 1080p | 24fps

DVD Tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | DVD 1 Running time: 134 mins. approx. | DVD2 Running time: 154 mins. approx. | PAL
Language English/French with English subtitles | Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Sterio | Region 2 | 1080p | 24fps

Chris Marker Collection - interior

Passion for Words, Madness for Images

This collection of Chris Marker films consists of three works that pre-date La Jetée, the featurette that firmly planted his name as a filmmaker, as well as a series of seven shorter films that span each decade of his career thereafter. These remarkable curios reveal much about him, his ideas and his visuality, as well as his take on the modern world from an artistic point-of-view – from China, Siberia and Israel in the 1950s to the Pentagon, art collectives, cheshire cats, haikus and early new media.

Released in conjunction with a major exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London, and with a new piece by writer and curator Chris Darke (Rediscovering Chris Marker), alongside a seminal early piece by Roger Tailleur (Markeriana: A Scarcely Critical Description of the Work of Chris Marker).

Chris Marker Collection DVD 1 - Pentagon

About Soda Film + Art

Soda Film + Art (SoFA) is an international agency that focuses on visual artists working in feature filmmaking. It operates at the nexus of film and art, and acts as a centralised bureau for development, production, sales, distribution and exhibition support. SoFA also has a collectable DVD label, with bespoke packaging that is unique to each title and artist vision, but together forms a cohesive library – and ultimately an overview of what’s happening in art + film today. sodapictures.squarespace.com | www.sodapictures.com/about-us/

Purchase: sodapictures.squarespace.com

Rediscovering Chris Marker

By 2002, it was evidently no longer enough to describe Marker simply as a ‘filmmaker’; cinema was merely one of the forms into which this prolific artist had channelled his protean creativity. When Marker died in July 2012, aged 91, he left behind an utterly singular body of work. From his first appearance in print as an author in 1946 to his final film, a 60-second ‘trailer’ for the 2012 Vienna film festival, his oeuvre spanned over 65 years and was remarkable in its scope. He designed and edited books, published journalism and essays, as well as a novel and short stories. As a visual artist, he was an accomplished photographer, cartoonist, and multimedia practitioner. But he remains best remembered as a filmmaker, with more than forty-five titles to his name and over thirty more as a commentary-writer or editor.
Chris Darke, “Rediscovering Chris Marker”, Chris Marker Collection booklet, 5

Icarus, Arte and Argos Release Four Chris Marker Films on iTunes

iTunesThe last few years have seen a growing availability of Chris Marker’s films, initially via pirate uploads to YouTube and an underground culture in subtitles, Criterion’s essential pairing of La Jetée and Sans Soleil, then online at streaming sites like MUBI, followed more recently by the great coffret of Planète Marker by Arte (to complement the Pompidou exhibition & retrospective). Other French DVD releases were unveiled, such as the remastered Le Joli Mai (Arte again), Argos’ Level Five, Lettre de Sibérie and Dimanche à Pékin, and the remastered Loin de Vietnam (Arte). Icarus had also done a great job with Grin Without a Cat, Remembrance of Things to Come, The Case of the Grinning Cat, The Last Bolshevik and The Sixth Side of the Pentagon.

Still, English speakers had discovered and embraced Marker, and wanted more. Then came Whitechapel. The current exhibition in London has prompted the box set of films by Soda Pictures, a most welcome release just shy of a month away. And now news has surfaced of the release on iTunes of some key Marker films, the details of which are below. It is said of American tourists that the first thing they ask of hotels in Paris is a WiFi connection, so it is fitting that we get – setting aside the indispensable Criterion & Icarus releases – our media via broadband. Before too long and before any eschatelogical events, we hope to have within reach of our eyes and ears a more complete collection of the many masterpieces by Marker, in English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Hungarian, Tibetan, Mongolian… Prais the digital dieties and the Babel of languages and enjoy!

Please note: all plot summaries below reproduced from Apple’s site. Sosume.

Class of Struggle

itunes.apple.com…class-of-struggle

Plot Summary

Class of StruggleIn 1967, Chris Marker and Mario Marret (under the aegis of SLON) produced À Bientôt J’espère, which documented a strike and factory occupation—the first in France since 1936—by textile workers at the Rhodiaceta textile plant in Besançon, the goals of which prefigured many of the demands that would come to define May 1968. Many of the Rhodiaceta workers who had collaborated with Marker and Marret on the film were unhappy with the final production. In response, Marker and other SLON filmmakers reorganized their efforts to begin training workers to collaboratively produce their own films under the name “The Medvedkin Group,” after the Russian filmmaker Marker would later memorialize in The Last Bolshevik. Class of Struggle is their first production. Picking up in Besançon a year after the events depicted in À Bientôt J’espère, the film focuses on agitation by workers at the Yema Watch Factory, particularly the efforts of one recently radicalized worker, Suzanne Zedet. Zedet describes her political activity, and the punishments issued in response by the factory management. She also articulates the radical scope of her and her fellow workers’ demands, which go beyond higher wages and better benefits, and reflect a desire to reorganize the country’s economy and social order. One of those demands is access to culture and to the tools of cultural production. The film itself is one attempt to meet this demand, and we see the workers editing and developing film under a banner that reads: “Cinema is not magic; it is a technique and a science, a technique born from science and put in service of a will: the will of workers to liberate themselves.” One of the most radical films produced in an era defined by radicalism, Class of Struggle reflects this will to liberation.

Far From Vietnam

Distributor: Icarus Films
itunes.apple.com…far-from-vietnam

Plot Summary

Initiated and edited by Chris Marker, Far from Vietnam is an epic 1967 collaboration between cinema greats Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, and Alain Resnais in protest of American military involvement in Vietnam – made, per Marker’s narration, “to affirm, by the exercise of their craft, their solidarity with the Vietnamese people in struggle against aggression.” A truly collaborative effort, the film brings together an array of stylistically disparate contributions, none individually credited, under a unified editorial vision. The elements span documentary footage shot in North and South Vietnam and at anti-war demonstrations in the United States; a fictional vignette and a monologue that dramatize the self-interrogation of European intellectuals; interviews with Fidel Castro and Anne Morrison, widow of Norman Morrison, the Quaker pacifist who burned himself alive on the steps of the White House in 1965; an historical overview of the conflict; reflections from French journalist Michèle Ray; and a range of repurposed media material. Passionately critical and self-critical, and as bold in form as it is in rhetoric, Far from Vietnam is a milestone in political documentary and in the French cinema.

La Jétee

itunes.apple.com…la-jetee
Chris Marker, filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his complex queries about time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. Marker’s La Jetée is one of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made, a tale of time travel told in still images.

Le Joli Mai

itunes.apple.com…le-joli-mai

Plot Summary

Le Joli Mai is a portrait of Paris and Parisians during May 1962. It is a film with several thousand actors including a poet, a student, an owl, a housewife, a stockbroker, competitive dancer, two lovers, General de Gaulle and several cats.Filmed just after the March ceasefire between France and Algeria, Le Joli Mai documents Paris during a turning point in French history: the first time since 1939 that France was not involved in any war. Part I, “A Prayer from the Eiffel Tower,” documents personal attitudes and feelings around Paris. A salesman feels free only when he is driving his car, and then only if there is not too much traffic. A working-class mother of eight has just gotten the larger apartment that she had been wanting for years. The space capsule of American astronaut John Glenn is examined by a group of admiring children. Two investors talk about their careers and adventures. A couple who have been in love since their teens discuss the possibility of eternal happiness. At a middle class wedding banquet, the guests are raucous while the bride is quiet, dignified and reserved. Part II, “The Return of Fantomas,” is an investigation of the political and social life of the city. Marker and Lhomme alternate between public events and private discussions: the former focusing on the Algerian situation, such as a funeral for people killed in Paris street demonstrations after the Algerian settlement. Meanwhile, the latter includes a conversation with two girls about the state of France; a meeting with a pair of engineers who describe the potential of the current technological revolution; an African student who discusses his own response to the French and the Parisians’ reaction to his skin color; a worker-priest forced to choose between the Church and his fellow workers; and an Algerian worker describing conflict he has experienced with native Frenchmen. The film ends with sweeping views of Paris, the façades of its prisons, and the faces of its people as they struggle to make sense of their moment in history.

§

After publishing this post, I read the reflections of on bfi.org.uk in the article “The owl’s legacy: in memory of Chris Marker“, by Catherine Lupton, Thom Andersen, Chris Petit, Jem Cohen, John Gianvito, Patrik Keller, Sarah Turner, Kudwo Eshun, José Luis Guerin and Agnès Varda. A thought of Thom Anderson’s struck me in relation to the distribution of Marker’s films in the US. It goes against the grain of this celebratory post, as does our first comment regarding the lack of availability of the iTunes releases in the UK. Here is Mr. Anderson’s thoughts, thoughts that make one wonder about the political backdrop of Marker’s limited presentation in this country historically:

I only had that one chance to see A Valparaiso projected. I’ve never had a chance to see most of his films, and others only many years after their original release. The political censorship we face in the United States has allowed only his more melancholy films, such as Sans soleil, to pass, while stopping his optimistic films, such as Sunday in Peking, If I Had Four Camels and Cuba Sí!. Others were delayed until their usefulness had vanished.

I read a review of Le fond de l’air est rouge in Variety in 1977; I first saw it in 2002, when it was finally released in the US with a new title, A Grin Without a Cat, that reversed the connotations of the original. The grin is the armed revolutionary vanguard, and the cat is the people. The disillusioned leftist has for many years been a sympathetic figure in American culture. Marker, of course, didn’t choose this role – it was falsely imposed on him in the US by selective sampling of his work.Thom Anderson

Chris Marker holding small award