wednesday 16 april
TO CHRIS MARKER, AN UNSENT LETTER
(dir Emiko Omori, USA, 2012, 78 min, in English)
This collective cinematic love letter to Chris Marker captures the notoriously private director, self-described as the ‘best known author of unknown works,’ through interviews with his colleagues and admirers, evoking a man whose preference for personal privacy made him cinema’s most famous enigma: a man who is his works.
IF I HAD 4 DROMEDARIES
(Si j’avais 4 dromadaires)
(dir Chris Marker, France/West Germany, 1966, digital video, b/w, 49 min., French w/ English subtitles)
Composed of photographs shot by Marker himself over the course of his travel in the form of a voiceover conversation, anticipating Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag, and revealing Marker’s understanding of the secret rapport between still and moving image.
Introduction by Kristian Feigelson, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris.
7:30pm UMass Amherst
137 Isenberg School of Management
Chris Marker Colloquium with Kristian Feigelson on Thursday 4/17.
Fellow Left Bank filmmaker Alain Resnais once remarked of CHRIS MARKER: “A theory is making the rounds, and not without some grounds, that [Chris] Marker could be an extraterrestrial. He looks like a human, but perhaps he comes from the future or from another planet… There are some very bizarre clues. He is never sick or ill, he is not sensitive to cold, and he doesn’t seem to need any sleep.” Resnais’ words stand as an apt evocation of the singularly elusive genius that was Chris Marker, French filmmaker, writer, documentarian, photographer, film essayist, transmedia artist, and friend of the noble feline. Was he born in Ulan Bator, Mongolia or in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France? In World War II, was he solely a combatant in service to the French Resistance, or did he also enlist as a paratrooper in the US Air Force? These are but two among many examples of the way he deftly dislodged his public identity from a sure footing in factual certainty. His was and is an alternative celebrity, one built upon the surrogacy of avatars and pseudonyms, and upon refusing to remain pinned down and categorized. A rare master of editing and montage, his work holds out to us the past, the present, and the future woven into a projected story that is part travelogue, part philosophical treatise, part ethnographic study, part personal testament, and part meta-discourse on the nature and function of cinema. Marker waged what is perhaps the most difficult kind of cinema to accomplish well: a hybridization of genres, a limpid and flexible discursive rhythm organized associatively, a philosophical rupturing of narrative structure—in short, a groundbreaking realization of the essay film. As he remarked in a rare public moment: “The process of making films in communication with oneself, the way a painter works or a writer, need not now be solely experimental. Contrary to what people say, using the first-person in films tends to be a sign of humility: ‘All I have to offer is myself.’” An early explorer of cyberspace, he moved beyond the provisional confines of the traditional moving image to create multimedia gallery installations, first in 1990 with Zapping Zone, in 1996 with Silent Movie, and in 2005 with Owls at Noon, and in 1998 he released the interactive CD-ROM Immemory. His justly acclaimed masterpieces La Jetée (1963) and Sans Soleil (1983) are part of an oeuvre comprised of over 40 films of various lengths, which include Letter from Siberia; Cuba Sí; Le Joli Mai; Far From Vietnam; A Grin Without a Cat, as well as profound cinematic portraits of fellow auteurs Akira Kurosawa and Andrei Tarkovsky. Marker was born on July 29, 1921, and entered the empyrean on the same day, 2012, at the transcendent age of 91.
EMIKO OMORI began her career as a filmmaker and cinematographer in 1968, when there were few camerawomen and fewer still Asian American camerawomen. Her first job was as camerawoman/editor on the KQED program, “Newsroom.” Since 1972 she has freelanced as a cinematographer on many award-winning projects as well as producing her own films. In 1991 she wrote and directed the highly acclaimed drama, Hot Summer Winds, a co-production of American Playhouse and KCET. In1999, her documentary/memoir, Rabbit in the Moon, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was broadcast on POV, and won a National Emmy and numerous other awards. At Sundance she was awarded the Best Documentary Cinematography for two documentaries: Rabbit in the Moon and for Academy Award nominee Regret to Inform. She produced the series Pacific Diaries and directed Skin Stories for Pacific Islanders in Communications. In 2005 she produced and directed Ripe for Change for the PBS series California and the American Dream. Her documentary, 7,500 Miles to Redemption, premiered at the Oregon State Penitentiary and the Salem Film Festival in 2007. Her documentary, Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm, premiered at Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center at the Scanners Video Festival in 2007. Her 2011 documentary on the visionary tattoo artist, Ed Hardy TATTOO THE WORLD, screened at many film festivals and museums including the Mill Valley Film Festival, New York Museum of Modern Art, De Young Museum in San Francisco, won the Audience Award at the Alexandria Film Festival, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Honolulu Academy of Art. She has just completed her feature documentary To Chris Marker, An Unsent Letter. She lives in San Francisco with her cat Wyatt.
KRISTIAN FEIGELSON, associated researcher in sociology at the Raymond Aron Center for Political Sociology (EHESS), teaches cinema at the University of the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris. A specialist in cinemas of Central and Eastern Europe, and an organizer of international colloquia and collaborative research, and contributor to journals including Annales, Communications, Esprit, Études, Théorème and Positif, he has published numerous works on cinema including Political Camera : Cinema and Stalinism (Théorème 8, PSN, Paris, 2005), Cinema and Cities (Théorème 10, PSN, Paris, 2007); Croyances et Sacré au cinéma (co-dir), CinémAction, Corlet, 2010; Just Images: Ethics and the Cinematic, Cambridge Press, 2011; Bollywood: Industry of Images (Théorème 16, PSN, Paris, 2012). Among his recent books is The Film Factory (Armand Colin, Paris, 2011).
Krisitian Feigelson will also give a talk about Chris Marker at a colloquium on Thursday 4/17.