Anachronies

Those who are truly contemporary,
who truly belong to their time, are those who
neither perfectly coincide with it
nor adjust themselves to its demands. They are
thus in this sense irrelevant;
but precisely because of this condition, precisely
through this disconnection and this anachronism,
they are more capable than others
of perceiving and grasping their own time.

Giorgio Agamben

 

The contemporaneity of a film is usually perceived in two different ways: sometimes, according to the way the work responds to the concerns of theme and discourse of the present; in others, from its degree of suitability to the stylistic veins in vogue at the current moment. In view of the task of selecting recent international films to dialogue with the national program of the Directors’ Week, the Anachronies section takes its distance and chooses the path of aesthetic lag: if the films screening here are contemporary works, it is precisely because of their incongruity with the pretensions of the present; if they live up to their time, it is because they do not conform to any of its tendencies. Faced with the unbridled inflation of “contemporary cinema” – at the same time immeasurable and relentlessly mapped out – our interest is on the interstices of what is produced today: those films that do not allow themselves to be framed so easily; which do not respond to thematic or stylistic demands; which provide free relations with the past and open gaps for an uncertain future; films that are anachronistic because they struggle against the spirit of the present.

Considering a film by Eduardo “Teddy” Williams, for instance, the strangeness is paradoxical: while experiencing the enchantment of discovering the first cinema – places, people seeming to be filmed for the first time, as in a Lumière vista – we have the clear impression of being in front of the inscrutable gaze of a traveler who comes from the future (or from Mars). From the “earth-to-earth” of Tan atentos to the stratosphere of J’ai oublié !, the short work of Williams draws an ascending course, punctuated by wonderful accidents. Without ever giving up on verisimilitude, films are dedicated to dynamiting the most basic coordinates of the world – starting with the law of gravity. The consistency of the bodies, the coherence of spaces, the stability of time, everything suddenly becomes variable in this cinema of the outburst.

At first sight, nothing feels more current than a film that combines the movements of an African immigrant in the streets of Paris to the images of clashes between young demonstrators and the French police. However, beginning with the highly contrasted black and white of his night photography, Paris est une fête rejects, out of the gate, the simple submission to the urgencies of the present. As an artist who left the atelier and began to do his pictorial studies in the street, amid the chaos of the city and the crowd, Sylvain George’s camera sketches, composes brief portraits, risks a landscape. Its assembly composes a mutant tapestry, which is transformed with each new musical movement. Paris is not a blank frame, but an immensely rich canvas already painted, which the film comes to shave, pierce, twist in the density of the night.

Excavating images and sounds of the past: the eminently contemporary gesture. In the fertile landscape of reappropriation cinema, the films of Monica Savirón and Deborah Stratman occupy some of the most fertile grounds. In Savirón’s extremely meticulous work, the archive image is both a statement and a plastic, sonorous, vital material.

If Broken Tongue impresses with its incomparable condensation power – over a century of history in the feverish rhythm of a great three-minute movie -, Answer Print is a renewed look on the material virtues of cinema: file imperfections become vectors with its own visual poetics; the roughness of abrupt cuts makes an unexpected rhythm; the wild noises of projection become music.

In Second Sighted, it is the fluidity of forms that prevails. From the collection of the Chicago Film Archives, Olivia Block’s music and Deborah Stratman’s editing orchestrate the world’s variation: between one rhyme and another, the movement of one image contaminates the next, the landscape reveals its plastic virtues and its unsuspected evocations. In Illinois Parables, it is history that comes to disturb the stillness of the landscape. The erasure of indigenous peoples, a failed revolutionary dream, the massacre of the black community; these events insist on imposing their strength, to still be present. Each of the eleven episodes that marked the history of the state of Illinois since the seventeenth century engenders a unique formal treatment. It is as if the irreducibility of the historical event imposed upon the artist an equally rigorous imperative: the intransigent invention.

Contemporaneity is also a sensitive continent: there are emotions that we can experience every day and many others that are left behind, forgotten or denied to us on a daily basis, on all canvases. Scott Barley’s cinema is closer to J.M.W. Turner’s nineteenth-century painting than any other filmmaker of his generation. An immersive and hypnotic experience, Sleep has her house engages in the imprecision of the landscape to forge the hypnotic inconsistency of sensations.

Given the univocal appearance of reality, to disorganize the arrangements of the world (Eduardo Williams); facing the urgency of struggle, forging an anachrony (Sylvain George); in view of the programmed obsolescence, to insist on the life of images that are about to disappear (Mónica Savirón); before the daily erasure of the past, to glimpse the movement of the present (Deborah Stratman); facing the hegemonic perceptual schemes, to refound the sensibility (Scott Barley). Anachronies is an invitation to rediscover, in this present continuous time, another form of bond: the cleft of invention.

 

1 Thank you note: the process of constructing this program was also anachronistic. At a time when even smaller films need to get more and more involved in bureaucratic distribution schemes to reach the audience, the filmmakers present at the selection, in attitudes of extreme generosity, have entrusted us with their films for free. To them, my deep gratitude, with the desire of a future reunion in more favorable conditions.

 

Curated by Victor Guimarães

Answer Print
dir: Monica Savirón
5' . 2016 . EUA
Rating free

The fading that devastates color films occurs in the dark. It is accelerated by high temperatures and, to a lesser extent, relative humidity. Dye fading is irreversible. Once the dye images have faded, the information lost cannot be recovered—Image Permanence [...]

Screening:
november 20 at 17h

Beware
dir: Eduardo Williams
8' . 2010 . Argentina
Rating 14 years

The supermarket is filled with products, but there’s no one there. Oh, yes, there’s one kid. But he doesn’t walk as if he was in a supermarket. His friends fight with the cashier, they’re looking for something she says it doesn’t exist. Later on the streets [...]

Screening:
november 17 at 17h

Broken Tongue
dir: Monica Savirón
3' . 2013 . EUA
Rating free

An ode to the freedom of movement, association, and expression. It pays homage to the diaspora of the different waves of migration, and challenges the way we represent our narratives. Mainly made with images from the January 1st issues of The New York Times since its [...]

Screening:
november 20 at 17h

Could See a Puma
dir: Eduardo Williams
18' . 2011 . Argentina
Rating 14 years

 The accident leads a group of young boys from the high roofs of their neighborhood, passing through its destruction, to the deepest of the [...]

Screening:
november 17 at 17h

I Forgot!
dir: Eduardo Williams
28' . 2014 . França, Vietnã
Rating 14 years

Climb up, lets jump, the fields are green and the houses gray. Were all small. It feels like the pores of my skin have become [...]

Screening:
november 17 at 17h

Paris est une fête – un filme en 18 vagues
dir: Sylvain George
95' . 2017 . França
Rating 14 years

A film/poem in 18 waves, featuring 18 scenes that describe Paris and its cityscape, which is traversed by a “young unaccompanied foreign minor” and shot through with terrorist attacks, white roses, a state of emergency, red, white and blue, the Atlantic Ocean and [...]

Screening:
november 18 at 23h59

Que je tombe tout le temps?
dir: Eduardo Williams
15' . 2013 . França
Rating 14 years

A young man in search of a seed emerges from the underground where he spends time with his friends. In their company he begins a long digestive [...]

Screening:
november 17 at 17h

Second Sighted
dir: Deborah Stratman
5' . 2014 . EUA
Rating free

Obscure signs portend a looming, indecipherable slump. An oracular decoding of the landscape.  Made in collaboration with composer Olivia Block, and by invitation of the Chicago Film Archives, utilizing solely films from their [...]

Screening:
november 20 at 17h

Sleep has her house
dir: Scott Barley
90' . 2017 . Reino Unido
Rating free

The shadows of screams climb beyond the hills. It has happened before. But this will be the last time. The last few sense it, withdrawing deep into the forest. They cry out into the black, as the shadows pass away, into the ground.Through long static takes, the film [...]

Screening:
november 21 at 17h

The Illinois Parables
dir: Deborah Stratman
60' . 2016 . EUA
Rating free

An experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of [...]

Screening:
november 20 at 17h

The Sound of the Stars Dazes Me
dir: Eduardo Williams
20' . 2012 . Argentina
Rating 14 years

Sometimes we find ourselves walking, talking or simply looking at things. That is what the protagonists of this film do. However, inside this mystery of life, we don’t know who they are or what they do. Teddy Williams builds yet again a dense and fantasmatic [...]

Screening:
november 17 at 17h