Monday, August 08, 2005

Dreaming About Retrospectives ...

If I were an uber-programmer at a rep house or university cinematheque with a respectable archive, some superb contacts, and a windfall budget, these would be a baker's dozen filmmakers whose bodies of work I'd try to bring to the screen right now. The first five choices are only names to me, the next eight are names I have some familiarity with. Those who've followed my blog with any regularity know that a lot of these names have appeared here in the recent past, more than once. Some are totally new. Consider it a snapshot of what I'd like to see on celluloid. And feel free to list your fantasy retrospectives.

Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi
Artavazd Peleshian
Adolfo Arrieta
Robert Kramer
Rene Vautier
Harun Farocki
Raúl Ruiz
Yevgeny Bauer
Walerian Borowczyk
Takashi Miike
Buster Keaton
Abel Ferrara

Jean Rouch

(Why am I in such a daydreaming mood lately?)


Jaime said...

I recognize about 50% of the names you've listed. However, the others:

Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi
Artavazd Peleshian
Adolfo Arrieta
Robert Kramer
Rene Vautier

I don't know them at all. Could you comment briefly on why you (playing the part of a well-to-do programmer) would devote a series/retrospective to their work?

ZC said...

Ah - the five I know only by reputation. I'd probably program them all because (a) people I respect (sometimes one, sometimes many) hold them in very high esteem, and (b) they're fucking hard to see.

Gianikian/Lucchi: an Italian couple trained in visual arts, they make avant-garde films using a lot of found footage. Apparently their early films were shown with the aid of scents released into the air. I missed their recent film Oh, Uomo! when it showed at Anthology some months back. From what I gather, their 1986 film From the Pole to the Equator is their "major" one. NYPL has it on 16mm.

Peleshian - Armenian filmmaker, sometimes linked with Paradjanov. Check out this page devoted to him:

Arrieta - Adrian Martin wrote a post on him for a_f_b that made him sound very appetizing; he's also mentioned in two articles I had recently photocopied from old Millennium issues (on both French & Spanish avant-garde film).

Kramer - Major underground leftwing fiction/doc filmmaker. Here's Chris Fujiwara on him: ... he's also well-liked by Rosenbaum, Ray Carney, "the French," et al.

Vautier - According to Nicole Brenez, the twentieth century's greatest filmmaker. His reportedly incendiary anticolonialist film Afrique 50 was banned in France.

Jaime said...

Many tanks! Those sound like fascinating names.

I'd like to see a Larry Cohen series, his work that I've seen is strange and troubling and I want to see more.

I wouldn't overlook the majors either: a Hawks retro would include a lot of underseen films like THE ROAD TO GLORY, A GIRL IN EVERY PORT, and LAND OF THE PHARAOHS.

Rossellini, who may be the most major director whose work (save for a few well-known classics) is awfully difficult to track down.

If I ruled the world there would be a complete Bresson retrospective every year.

Steve said...

Shortly after Robert Kramer died, there was a retrospective spread out between Two Boots (whose theater had just opened) and MOMA. I found THE EDGE rather tedious, but ICE is one of the best American independent films of the '60s - and fictional portraits of the New Left - that I've seen. MILESTONES documents a period that hasn't aged particularly well - the tale end of hippiedom, when it was starting to become obvious that '60s idealism could't sustain itself when times grew more conservative - but it's interesting.

STARTING PLACE, his documentary on '90s Vietnam, is available on VHS.

The Walter Reade did a Ruiz retrospective in the late '90s, but of course it wasn't complete. Anthology did Ferrara in 2001.

I second most of your choices. I'd particularly like to see a Rouch retrospective, since I saw JAGUAR a few months ago at BAM. A friend of mine has seen many of his '70s films in Paris, including titles that have never been subtitled in English.

Brian Darr said...

I've only heard of a few of these myself (Peleshian, Farocki, Ruiz, and the last five. And I still haven't seen any films at all by Farocki, Borowycyk, Ferrara or Rouch.)

One of the great benefits of living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that the Pacific Film Archive has 35mm prints of three Peleshian films. I'm lucky to have seen all three (my favorite one, The Beginning, twice). I have to say I don't see much in the way of comparison to Paradjanov (having only seen Sayat Nova so far) other than the Armenian connection. Stylistically Peleshian seems to me to connect more concretely to Dziga Vertov and/or Bruce Conner (I hope I'm not misinterpreting things outrageously when I think of The Beginning as something of a Soviet version of A Movie, only even more entertaining.)

If you can't see his films, his interview in one of Scott MacDonald's "Critical Cinema" books (I forget which, though my first guess would be #3) is an interesting surrogate.