Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Los Angeles Film Forum Screens À bientôt, j’espère

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A day late and a dollar short. But SLON is an elephant and has a long memory. Sorry we missed this. Sorry you missed this. If you didn’t miss it, let us know what you thought. Reprinted from: lafilmforum.org

Tonight’s films will include:

A Bientot J’espere (Be Seeing You) (1968, 43 min)

A Film by Mario Marret and Chris Marker

In the spring of 1967, workers at the massive Rhodiaceta textile mill in Besançon, France, walked off the job. It was no ordinary strike. The month-long work stoppage was about more than just wages, it addressed the workers’ rights to a decent life. Political and cultural concerns were effectively merged.

From 1967 to 1976 Chris Marker was a member of SLON (the “Company for the Launching of New Works”). One of several groups that emerged in those years, in which filmmakers, militants, and others came together to focus in a cooperative and parallel basis on the problems of movie production, SLON was based on the idea that cinema should not be thought of solely in terms of industry and commerce.

So it was only natural that Chris Marker, along with other technicians and members of SLON, would visit Besançon to document the strike, and the lives and attitudes of the workers.

Management went on to sack 92 militants at the end of the year and resorted to lockouts, so that the majority of workers eventually went back to their jobs with few concrete gains. But the strikers had developed a sense of the potential power of labor — and had helped lay the groundwork for May of 1968, when France would be rocked by revolutionary protests. The film’s most important moments are composed of conversations with workers and their wives in their homes. They believe the working class is increasingly at the mercy and disposition of the system, a system that gives them no power, a system that would like them to remain powerless. And so it was that their local demands grew to questions about the larger political system.

First released in 1968, Marker’s piercing film is an extraordinary document of a pivotal moment in European labor history. This is the first time the film has been subtitled in English.

For more on the Société pour le lancement des oeuvres nouvelles, see autourdu1ermai.fr and iskra.fr.

4 comments

  • I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

    While I’m here, I was wondering if any knew what version of the song “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” is used in Sans Soleil. I’ve never been able to locate it.

  • Hope this comes to New York soon. As to your Sans Soleil question, I’ve seen that film so many times and can’t remember that song being in it at all, but maybe I’m missing something even after 19 or so viewings. For myself, the ethereal music during the kamikaze sequence is what I would most like to track down some day.

  • Thank you! I’ve added a link in the blogroll to Les Films du Jeudi, Chris Marker catalog, which includes Berliner Ballade; Casque Bleu; Chat écoutant la musique; Chats perchés; Détour, Ceaucescu; E-clip-se; From Chris to Christo; L’Ambassade; Le 20 heures dans les camps; Matta ’85; La Sixième face du Pentagone; Slon Tango; Théorie des ensembles; and Trois vidéos Haïkus.

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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