Vive le cinéma!
Ever since the early days of cinema, film has always been much more than a projection on a screen, even though that is how it has entered the history books. But early experiments with panoramas, magic lanterns, live sound and music and theatrical accompaniments show that film, right from the start, was also a spatial experience. Film would not be film, a festival not a festival, and a museum not a museum, if that whole story was not told.
For the jubilee exhibition Vive le cinéma!, Eye and the International Film Festival Rotterdam approached five major film directors from five continents, thereby reflecting the power and diversity of world cinema, which IFFR introduced. These filmmakers – Jia Zhang-ke (Asia), Lucrecia Martel (South America), Nanouk Leopold (Europe), Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (Africa), and Carlos Reygadas (North America) – have been invited to make a work that exploits the potential of the three-dimensional exhibition space instead of the two-dimensional cinema screen. For some of them, this is the first time that they are creating a cinematographic installation that explores the boundaries of their own work and the art of film in general. In this way, Eye and IFFR are celebrating their special and close ties with each other, with cinematography, and with film audiences in the Netherlands.
Attention: this exhibition is expected from 10 February through 9 May 2021.
exploding and expanded cinema
Since the emergence of cinema, there have been experiments in which filmmakers venture off the beaten track of the ‘ordinary’ narrative movie. As filmmakers and artists, they investigate the language and possibilities of film. That can sometimes lead to innovation within narrative cinema, or to intersections with other art disciplines. Such efforts are sometimes referred to as ‘experimental cinema’, or ‘expanded cinema’ or simply artistic cinema.
In the 1950s, the then Filmmuseum, under its first director Jan de Vaal, began to organize weekly screenings at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Cinema was incorporated as the seventh art into the rich palette of modern art. In the early 1970s, the Rotterdam Arts Council asked Huub Bals to organize an annual festival, and in the intervening 50 years, it has grown to become one of the leading platforms for international cinema. Bals never doubted the close ties between film and art. He is credited with the saying: ‘Film is cinema is art’.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam has been exploring that intersection more explicitly since the mid-1990s, initially under the name ‘Exploding Cinema’. Innovative filmmakers and artists from places and continents that, cinematographically speaking, had been ‘terra incognita’ for a long time, finally found a platform.
Since the opening of the new Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam-North, it has continued to build on that legacy with exhibitions that explore what cinema can be beyond the ‘standard’ movie picture. Film as the seventh art. Exhibitions that focus on the intersection of film and visual art, presenting both filmmakers and visual artists. Eye has made exhibitions with artists like Ryoji Ikeda, William Kentridge, Hito Steyerl, Anthony McCall, Fiona Tan, Jesper Just, Isaac Julien, and Francis Alÿs, and also with film artists like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wang Bing, Alex van Warmerdam, and Chantal Akerman, and with film directors who had not previously made work for three-dimensional space, among them Béla Tarr. In addition, Eye consistently considers the question of how to exhibit film, as was clearly demonstrated in exhibitions of work by figures like Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Oskar Fischinger.
It is notable that over the past two decades the fringe area between film and visual art has gradually become less clearly defined. Not only do many visual artists make use of the medium film, but conversely, more and more film directors are discovering the use of three-dimensional space instead of the two-dimensional cinema screen.
makers and works in Vive le cinéma!
The works to be presented at Vive le cinéma! are currently being developed, but here follows a look behind the scenes:
Jia Zhang-ke (born in Fenyang, China, in 1970) represents the voice of Chinese independent cinema. Films like Platform (2000) and Still Life (2006) often explore the boundaries between fiction and documentary. In Ash Is Purest White (2018) he combines a view of modern China with a revenge story seen through the eyes of a female lead character. For Vive le cinéma! he plans a new work based on the ubiquity of surveillance cameras.
Lucrecia Martel (born in Salta, Argentina, in 1966) rose to prominence as a filmmaker with her debut film La ciénaga (2001) and recently the hallucinating Zama (2017). Time and space in her work are elastic and infinite, and the sound design often determines the final form of the film. For her installation she is currently researching the possibility of working with heat images and reflections, and giving a voice to vanished and forgotten languages from northern Argentina that tell a long history of violence and colonization.
Nanouk Leopold (Rotterdam, 1968) & Daan Emmen (Rotterdam, 1968) have been making spatial works together since 2009 under the name Leopold Emmen. In that year they contributed to the IFFR programme ‘Size Matters’ with the six-hour Close-Up, which was screened at Hofpoort on Hofplein. The career of Leopold (Boven is het stil, 2013; Cobain, 2018) is closely tied to IFFR. Her debut film Îles flottantes (2001) had its world premiere in the Tiger Competition, and many of her other films have been screened at the festival. For Vive le cinéma! they are working on an architectural structure that will be complemented by a special soundtrack (by sound artist Donato Wharton) and various forms and colours of light.
Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (born in Hlotse, Lesotho, in 1980) is one of the most exciting visual voices of today. His film This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection was screened at IFFR in 2020. In Eye he plans to install a multi-screen projection in which he tells a story about the representation of black female bodies, provisionally entitled ‘…of BODIES OF NEGROS I will Sculpture god, grim and benevelent OR At the feet of mercy’.
Carlos Reygadas (born in Mexico City in 1971) studied law and worked as a diplomat before starting to make films. Japón (2002), Stellet licht (2008) and the highly personal Nuestro tiempo (2019) are just a few of his works that have been screened at IFFR and Dutch cinemas. Moreover, he contributed to the ‘Size Matters’ programme of IFFR with Serenghetti (2009), a film about football and nature. His installation draws on the image of a giant film reel and confronts the observer with their own gaze and that of the other.
The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of films, discussions and other activities.