Free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis!
From historical investigations to deeply personal stories, the films screening the NYFF51’s Motion Portraits program present a variety of approaches to the cinematic portrait. Join Joaquim Pinto (What Now? Remind Me), Pacho Velez (Manakamana) and Mitra Farahani (Fifi Howls from Happiness) for a discussion of their films.
First-person filmmaking at its most intimate and expansive, Joaquim Pinto’s What Now? Remind Me emerged from a year in which the director—documentarian, producer, sound designer, and Lisbon film scene stalwart—endured an experimental clinical trial for HCV patients. Although the film doesn't flinch at describing the pain and despair of chronic illness, it remains above all a testament to the joys of a fully lived life, and to the inseparability of art and life. Darting between vivid scenes of the present and bittersweet recollections of the past, What Now? reveals Pinto’s day-to-day existence with his beloved husband, Nuno, and reaches back to his artistic coming of age, capturing a love of cinema that led to a wide network of friendships and collaborations. Confessional but never solipsistic, looking beyond individual experience toward history and the world, this moving film becomes an all-encompassing meditation on what it means to be alive. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival.
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s (literally) transporting film, Manakamana—shot inside a cable car that carries pilgrims and tourists to and from a mountaintop temple in Nepal—is radically simple in conception. Each of its 11 shots lasts as long as a one-way ride, which corresponds to the duration of a roll of 16 millimeter film. This newest work from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab—which previously produced Sweetgrass (NYFF '09) and Leviathan (NYFF50)—is thrillingly mysterious in its effects: a staged documentary, a cross between science fiction and ethnography, an airborne version of an Andy Warhol screen test. As with the richest structural films, Manakamana is a kind of head movie that viewers are invited to complete as they watch. Working within a 5-by-5-foot glass and metal box, Spray and Velez have made an endlessly suggestive film that both describes and transcends the bounds of time and space. Winner of the Filmmakers of the Present prize at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival. A Cinema Guild release.
Mitra Farahani's Fifi Howls from Happiness is an act of recovery, and an entrancing documentary construction that appears to weave its own form as it proceeds, according to the inspirations and demands of its jubilant, egotistical and irascible subject. That subject is the Iranian painter and sculptor Bahman Mohasses, who was a celebrated and iconoclastic figure in the pre-revolutionary 60s and 70s, known for his art as well as his merciless public pronouncements. Mohasses remained in Iran after the revolution, but he frequently traveled in secret to Italy, which he finally made his home in 2006. Throughout the years, many of his works were destroyed by the new government, and many more by Mohasses himself. Filmmaker Mitra Farhani tracked down Mohasses in a Roman hotel and filmed him during the last six months of his life. The poetic self-portrait that they made together is a joyous celebration of freedom—to create, to destroy, to indulge, to pontificate and make withering judgments, to live without regret.