10 septembre 2007


Victor Erice - Abbas Kiarostami. CORRESPONDANCES
Paris MoMA Sept 19, 2007 - January 7, 2008

The meeting of two contemporary masters : what a perfect cinephilic event in all imaginable ways. Their full filmography will be screened over 4 months which is a rare occasion in itself, as their films are usually hard-to-see. It's always admirable when artists are celebrated at this level before passing away. This exhbition was first created in Barcelona in February 2006 by Alain Bergala and Jordi Ballo. Then moved to Madrid, now Paris. Australia booked it, and it will probably tour around the world. The presence of these filmmakers will be the major asset of this exceptional event to dialogue with eachother and with the public. Two conferences will be broadcasted live online!

  • L'Histoire des Trente, Year 2000 : Films on Time (Sept 22 / 18:00 GMT+2) with the short films projected : Ten Minutes Older (2001/Kiarostami); Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet : Lifeline (2002/Erice); Roads of Kiarostami (2005/Kiarostami); La Morte rouge (2006/Erice)
  • Question de Cinema (Dec 8 / 14h30-19h GMT+1) with Victor Erice, Abbas Kiarostami, Alain Bergala, Fabienne Costa, Jean-Michel Frodon, Stéphane Goudet, Youssef Ishaghpour, Jean-Pierre Limosin, Jean-Philippe Tessé, Marcos Uzal.
Kiarostami will also stage a live performance with video installation.

The centerpiece of this event will be the 10 video-letters Erice and Kiarostami have been exchanging the past 3 years at the suggestion of Alain Bergala. This could be as consensual and formulaic as a portemanteau project commissionned by a third party who imposes an idea to creators who don't need directions. But this project sounds really exciting.
Both filmmakers who happen to share the same age of 67 are discreet and introverted (especially Victor Erice who makes one new movie per decade) accepted to interact artistically by investing the short format of video-essay. Looking at the sent dates, Kiarostami seems less motivated or slower, but looking at the stills from the videos his contribution seems less literal (in a penpal way) and more abstracted, poetical (in the production of stand-alone pieces). Imagine if we could have a trace of a correspondance between Tarkovsky and Bresson, Satyajit Ray and Kurosawa...

  • 1) El Jardin del Pintor (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, 22 april 2005, 9'30"
  • 2) Mashhad (Kiarostami/Iran) AK to VE, 5 Sept 2005, 10'
  • 3) Arroyo de la Luz (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, 22 Oct 2005, 20'18"
  • 4) The Quince (Kiarostami/Iran) AK to VE, dec 2005, 12'
  • 5) José (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, 18 Jun 2006, 7'19"
  • 6) Sea Mail (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, 10 aug 2006, 3'49"
  • 7) A Rainy Day (Kiarostami/Iran) AK to VE, 11 mar 2007, 11'10"
  • 8) A la deriva (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, sep 2006 - mar 2007, 13'24"
  • 9) Treasure Map (Kiarostami/Iran) AK to VE, apr 2007, 7'23"
  • 10) Escrito en el agua (Erice/Spain) VE to AK, may 2007, 2'35"

Accompaning these videos, an exhibition of multimedia works by the two artists around the themes they have in common : childhood, landscape, roads, trees, silence... Notably there will be an artificial forest scenographied by Kiarostami himself. As well as their latest short films : Roads of Kiarostami (2006/Kiarostami), made for the Korean festival, and La Morte Rouge (2006/Erice), made for the original exhibition in Barcelona. The good news is also that Victor Erice is currently working on a new series of films called "Memories and Dream"!

RETROSPECTIVE (list of films projected)

Of Victor Erice I've only seen 2 (El Espiritu de la Colmena, El Sol del Membrillo) so I'm most excited to finally discover El Sur, and his short films.
I know very little of Kiarostami (Close Up, The Wind Will Carry Us, The Taste of Cherry), his films are not projected very often, especially the lesser-known. Thus I'll be able to catch up with this major oeuvre of our time that everyone around is praising.
I would love to see everything, and I'll try but if I can't, please let me know which titles I must not miss in priority.


Since Erice filmography is considerably shorter he was offered a Carte Blanche to show alongside films he liked.The original list Erice submitted was declined by the curators because the titles were too familiar for the French public and had enough exposition already. So these films will not be shown at the exhibition but it's important to know Erice elected them originaly to illustrate, inspire, nourish and dialogue with his own filmography :

  • The Kid (1921/Charles Chaplin/USA)
  • I was born but... (1932/Yasujiro Ozu/Japan)
  • Treasure Island (1934/Victor Fleming/USA)
  • Germany Year Zero (1947/Roberto Rosselini/Italy)
  • The Bicycle Thief (1948/Vittorio de Sica/Italy)
  • Los Olvidados (1950/Luis Buñuel/Spain)
  • Moonfleet (1954/Fritz Lang/USA)
  • The Night of the Hunter (1955/Charles Laughton/USA)
  • Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959/François Truffaut/France)
  • Ivan's Childhood (1962/Andrei Tarkovsky/Russia)
  • Mouchette (1967/Robert Bresson/France)
The recurring theme was obviously "childhood" as seen by classic masters of cinema history.
Meanwhile, it's a pleasure to discover, instead, more films recommended by Erice as his favorites, ones we never heard of or aren't as widely available as the above titles. So here is the final list, that will be screened :

  • Las Hurdes (1933/Luis Buñuel/Spain) Short DOC
  • Espoir, Sierra de Teruel (1939/André Malraux/France) director's cut
  • The Saga of Anatahan (1953/Josef von Sternberg/USA)
  • Chibusa yo eien nare (1955/Kinuyo Tanaka/Japan)
  • Acto da Primavera (1963/Manoel de Oliveira/Portugal) DOC
  • El verdugo (1963/Luis Garcia Berlanga/Spain)
  • La Tía Tula (1963/Miguel Picazo/Spain)
  • Uccellacci e uccellini (1966/Pier Paolo Pasolini/Italy)
  • My Childhood (1972/Bill Douglass/UK)
  • Queridísimos verdugos (1973/Basilio Martín Patino/Spain) DOC
  • L'Ordre (1974/Jean-Daniel Pollet/France) Short DOC
  • Lost, lost, lost (1976/Jonas Mekas/USA)
  • My Ain Folk (1976/Bill Douglas/UK)
  • We Can't Go Home Again (1976/Nicholas Ray/USA)
  • My Way Home (1978/Bill Douglas/UK)
  • Dalla nube alla Resistenza (1979/Straub/Huillet/Italy/France)
  • La verdad sobre el caso Savolta (1980/Antonio Drove/Spain)
  • El viaje a ninguna parte (1986/Fernando Fernán Gómez/Spain)
  • A Comedia de Deus (1995/João César Monteiro/Portugal)

    One last choice was denied by the right holders :
    Khaneh siah ast / The House Is Black (1962/Forough Farrokhzad/Iran)

The recurring theme here would be "resistance". I love to look at a Carte Blanche listing, because like a favorites list, it tells so much about someone's personality and particularly about their cinema vision and sensibility. And it's the opportunity to share a part of this filmmaker's cinephile culture.

More later when the exhibition opens... [video-letters 1 - 2]

Related : Exhibition coverage in e-Cahiers (Sept 2007); Errata podcast, Robert Davis and J. Robert talk about Kiarostami's Homework (1989); Girish : Abbas Kiarostami's Early Films; Zach Campbell : Kiarostami Until 1987

12 commentaires:

davis a dit…

Wow, what a great bunch of juxtapositions. Spirit of the Beehive screened several times around San Francisco recently (and it was mentioned a lot when Pan's Labyrinth was in theaters), but I missed it. I don't think I've seen anything by Erice!

Both of his Cartes Blanche are quite intriguing, even the more common films, which seem to be not just about childhood but about the mingling worlds of childhood and adulthood, or about a confused or scared child's (justified) view of the adult world, which is true of much of Kiarostami's work and from what I understand Erice's, too. Very neat.

Of course looking at his more obscure selections, most of which I don't know, is even more mysterious. I love the idea of drawing a line from Bunuel's Land Without Bread (Las Hurdes) to, say, Night of the Hunter.

HarryTuttle a dit…

You should really watch Spirit of the Beehive asap! It's part of my top100. Clearly a one-of-a-kind film. And you will never forget the face of this young Ana Torrent.

I enjoyed your podcast on Kiarostami, now I'm looking forward to seeing First Graders and Homework. Which early short films you've seen at the SF retrospective would you recommend?

davis a dit…

Oh, I forgot to say thanks for the link to the podcast. Homework is a gem, and if you catch it, be sure to report back about what the print was like. As J. Robert mentioned in the podcast, the film has been chopped up.

The early shorts are interesting mostly as a window into Kiarostami's art as it's still developing. My favorite is probably Orderly or Disorderly? It's deceptively simple as it starts like a didactic children's film but then begins to make light of didactic filmmaking. The Chorus is also good. It's uncharacteristically plotted and colorful -- lush, even -- but really cute.

Unfortunately I missed a bunch of things that I was hoping to catch. Someone told me The Wedding Suit was great.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Thanks for the recommendations Rob.
Yeah the butchery story is shocking! I will tell you next month when I get to see Homework.

David McDougall a dit…

Harry - 2 recommendations (though the first you'll assuredly be seeing anyway):

definitely see El Sur, which is tremendously beautiful and nostalgic.

El Verdugo is hilarious, politically important, and also tragic. It is Berlanga at his best, and should be on any short list of Spain's best films. Don't miss it.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Thanks Dave.
Erice calls it "Berlanga-Azcona's masterpiece". But I didn't expect it would be funny... I'm even more intrigued now.

David McDougall a dit…

Luis García Berlanga and Rafael Azcona work together frequently; this relationship was well established by the time they worked on El Verdugo. Though it's complex and multifaceted, the film is above all a comedy and a brilliant one at that. I wish it was available on DVD in the U.S. so it could earn the reputation here that it deserves.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I've never seen anything they've done, that's why this carte blanche of lesser known titles is so fascinating.
It shows that Erice wasn't really free to pick whatever he wanted... that the curators have a veto. But it's nice to know it's for the benefit of the wider availability of underdogs.

From the list I've only seen 3 (Las Hurdes, L'Espoir, L'Ordre), so I don't know anything about all the others.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Added link to Sep. 2007 e-Cahiers coverage of the exhibition, available in English online (free in part).

HarryTuttle a dit…

contrary to what the program announced, their latest short films was commissionned before the Paris exhibition.
- Roads of Kiarostami (2005/Kiarostami), made for the Korean festival (Pusan 2005, I think), in commemoration of the anniversary of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb drop.
A slideshow of his B&W photographies with occasional voiceover commentary, persan poetry and his own filmography citation.
- La Morte Rouge / Soliloquio (2006/Erice), made for the original exhibition in Barcelona.
A very nice documentary on a now-disappeared beach Casino in San Sebastian, turned moviehouse. Where the young Erice watched his very first movie, at 6 yold, a horror movie called The Scarlet Claw (1944/Roy William Neill/USA), which traumatized him for a long time. This might be the inspiration for the film The spirit of the Beehive, where he develops this same childhood confusion between real and fiction, but with Frankestein instead.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I really enjoyed watching El Verdugo, thanks for recommending it to me. It's the first Berlanga film I saw though.

There is a trivialized black humour, around death and death penalty, akin to the Czech New Wave (maybe most notably with The Cremator (1968/Herz).
The way this executioner takes his job at heart, like if it was the professional conscience of a baker, without enjoying it, but honoring the nobility of its necessity. It's both crazy and amusing. Not to mention all the misunderstandings ensuing because of the social taboo around this job.

It's definitely a politically incorrect comedy, and very funny at that. But it's not just a comedy, like you say, it's a satire of society, with a powerful playwright I think.

HarryTuttle a dit…

17-11-2007 : Michel Ciment talks about the exhibition at Paris MoMA, Erice-Kiarostami Correspondances. Guests : Alain Bergala, Stéphane Goudet, Youssef Ishaghpour. (France Culture, REAL video, FRENCH, 45')