Realism(s) #5, or: notes on factory gates


Sortie d'usine - ph. Louis Lumière, 1895

Most narrative films begin after work is over.

--Harun Farocki, Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik, 1995.

Trop tôt, trop tard - Straub-Huillet, 1981, color, 16mm

If we line up one hundred years of scenes of people leaving factories, we can imagine that the same shot had been taken over and over and over. Like a child who repeats its first word for one hundred years to immortalise its pleasure in that first spoken word. Or like Far Eastern artists who repeatedly paint the same picture until it is perfect, and the artist can enter the picture. When we could no longer believe in such perfection, film was invented.

--Harun Farocki, Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik, 1995.






Exit - Sharon Lockhart, 2008, color, 16mm


None of these directors impose their world view on the spectator – they don't hit you on the head with their visions, leave you lying there paralysed, ready for a serious brainwash; rather, they approach the world, describe it. They show people at work and in their free time, and the dynamics of groups. Their pictures remain clear, the style is unadorned; a multiple exposure or a superimposed image is the wildest manipulative special effect their films admit. They reject the classical bourgeois notion of the functionality of art, in which everything is finally resolved and ascribed its meaningful place.

--Olaf Möller on the filmmakers of Filmkritik, Passage along the Shadow-Line, 1998.


Cinema of Attractions #2



Outtakes from a new short film, 'Tales', about a girl and a ghost, by Raya Martin, Saskia Gruyaert and Antoine Thirion, viewable here.


An aside, or: forests #5


(trees that remain subjects of an eternal fascination among experimental filmmakers, perhaps because of their state(s) of coexistence, transformation, betweenness: between the stasis of the trunk and movement of the leaves; between the durable and the fragile; the ever-transforming coexistence of textures and colours; between the earth, from which they emerge, and the skies, to which they aspire...)

--Mubarak Ali, Everything that Rises Must Converge, 14.06.10.


To the derelicts of the earth #3, après Paris

A Bit of Paris - Joseph T. Keiley, 1907


indifferent to the passage of time / all cities would look the same were it not for the monuments that distinguish them

Rien que les heures - Alberto Cavalcanti, 1926, b&w, 35mm

Realism(s) #4

Cimetière du Montparnasse, 02.06.10


We stumbled across Pialat’s grave by accident, wandering amidst rows of blackened stone, scanning epitaphs, looking for nothing in particular. I had to resist the urge to clear away the debris – a few pebbles, a laminated photograph, some neglected shrubs. They seemed misplaced: what should stand between this body below and the cold slab upon which our respects rest? As if the tomb of the man who made La gueule ouverte should mediate its gaze from oblivion – that of the sky, and beyond. Pialat never flinched; nor should we.

We discovered later that Rohmer’s grave is located in the 13th. division of the same cemetery, but decided not to return. After all, there's little reason to think that the monuments to these men should be anything other than their cinema – never, sadly, a fixed point in the earth (at least a material trace), but always an excuse to look away.






Film socialisme is nothing less than an affront, one to the manner in which cinema now likes to present images before it surrounds them with worlds. A common approach to Godard’s work is to suggest that he poses questions, not answers; that his films withhold rather than ‘communicate’. But Film socialisme is the most direct film in recent memory: its editing is a form of crisis historiography (or, that crystalline structure Deleuze once pointed to: sheets of the past colliding with simultaneous peaks of the present), and its approximations of light a catalogue of yesterday’s media. See it, as I was lucky to, on 35mm: film offers an anchor, a liberation, a measure of what is at stake. If we are still talking – perhaps now louder than ever – about the medium's electronic mutation, there’s little need to worry about specifics here: DES CHOSES / COMME ÇA. From this point on, cinema is no longer in a position to recover.

Distance(s) #13

Film socialisme - JLG, 2010, digital video