The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces the sixth edition of Art of the Real, an essential showcase for the most vital and innovative voices in nonfiction and hybrid filmmaking, April 18-28. The 2019 lineup features a vibrant slate of new works by internationally acclaimed filmmakers and impressive, award-winning debuts from around the world, with two world premieres, 10 North American premieres, and six U.S. premieres.  

This year’s Opening Night selection is the North American premiere of Frank Beauvais’s intimate essay film Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream. Composed of excerpts from the 400-plus films the director watched during a period of seclusion in 2016, it’s a montage that reframes otherwise incidental images into an immensely moving reflection on life, love, and loss.

“Our sixth edition ranges widely in themes and formal approaches—from epic investigations into religious violence in India and cartel murders in Mexico to intimate accounts of local myths and practices. There’s even, in our opening night film, a very personal and moving account of the relationship between cinephilia and neurosis. Full of works that entangle history and memory, and the personal and the political, it’s a lineup that attests to the sheer abundance and vitality of documentary modes today,” said Film Society Director of Programming Dennis Lim. “We’re also very happy to be paying posthumous tribute to two major filmmakers—Toshio Matsumoto and Jocelyne Saab—whose work deserves to be much better known in the U.S.”

Highlights of the festival include the North American premiere of Karelia: International with Monument, returning Art of the Real filmmaker Andrés Duque’s exploration of the mysterious forests on the Finnish-Russian border where shamanic magic and historical trauma intermingle; Julien Elie’s Dark Suns, a chronicle of the cartel violence and state corruption in Mexico that has contributed to the murders of hundreds of women, journalists, students, and activists since the 1990s; While We Are Here, a discreetly expanding fiction from Clarissa Campolina and Luiz Pretti that follows the relationship of two New York transplants from its origins through its aftermath; Anand Patwardhan’s masterful Reason, which charts nearly a century’s worth of India’s ongoing violence against its own people; Paul Grivas’s Film Catastrophe, which revisits the 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise liner through a mix of on-set footage from Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme with civilian-shot footage from aboard the ship; Tamer Hassan & Armand Yervant Tufenkian’s Accession, which traces a collection of letters about the exchange of seeds in this uniquely process-based reflection on rural American life; Sarah J. Christman’s Swarm Season, which ambitiously links the earthbound and the cosmic in its observation of a colony of endangered honeybees and a group of astronaut trainees in volcanic Hawaii; and Sebastian Brameshuber’s Movements of a Nearby Mountain, a meditative portrait of a Nigerian mechanic set against the backdrop of a centuries-old iron mine in the Austrian Alps. Critical favorites from international festivals also feature strongly in this year’s lineup; Kavich Neang’s reflection on Phnom Penh’s historic White Building Last Night I Saw You Smiling and Miko Revereza’s spare yet highly personal meditation on undocumented immigrants No Data Plan bowed at Rotterdam, while Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s wry nature documentary Acid Forest and Nicole Vögele’s portrait of a working-class Taipei community, Closing Time, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival.

Film Catastrophe

 

Art of the Real includes a number of feature directorial debuts, including Lei Lei’s Breathless Animals, featuring voiceover from the director’s mother accompanied by anonymous images, found footage, and repurposed photographs; Erased,___Ascent of the Invisible, an evocative and deeply personal debut from Lebanese artist Ghassan Halwani that raises powerful questions about collective memory; Ian Soroka’s Greetings from Free Forests, which explores cave hideouts, unmarked graves, and archaeological sites in Southern Slovenia to unearth the buried histories of the Partisan Liberation Front; Francisco Marise’s To War, a psychological portrait of a special forces veteran that combines episodes from his daily life with military archival footage and excerpts from American war movies; The Game, Marine de Contes’s striking observational doc about the strange sport of wood pigeon hunting; Daniel Zimmerman’s Thoreau-referencing Walden, which charts the crosslantic journey of a fir tree as it is cut down, processed, and shipped; and Igor Drljača’s nonfiction debut Stone Speakers, which explores the Bosnian-born director’s heritage and identity through the tourist attractions and landmarks of his homeland. Art of the Real will also feature short films from both new and returning filmmakers, with highlights including the world premieres of Monika Uchiyama’s A New Use and Jeamin Cha’s On Guard, Anton Vidokle’s Citizens of the Cosmos, Natalia Marín’s Julio Iglesias’s House, Art of the Real and Projections alum Eric Baudelaire’s Walked the Way Home, and Elena López Riera’s Locarno-winning Those Who Desire.

In addition to these new works, Art of the Real will pay tribute to the late filmmakers Jocelyne Saab and Toshio Matsumoto. Known for her poetic vision and mastery of the essay film form, Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab was trained as a radio and television journalist before turning to documentary. In recognition of her contributions to documentary cinema, Art of the Real will screen her impressionistic Beirut trilogy, comprised of Beirut, Never Again, Letter from Beirut, and Beirut My City. The festival will also recognize the nonfiction works of Japanese avant garde filmmaker and critic Toshio Matsumoto, whose radical experimentation in documentary, narrative cinema, and video art produced a deeply rigorous, expansive, and electrifying body of work.

This year, Art of the Real is proud to continue its collaboration with curated streaming platform MUBI. A selection of titles from the 2019 program will be featured on MUBI following their presentation at the festival. Details on the films and schedule will be announced at a later date.   

Organized by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes.

Tickets go on sale Friday, March 29, and are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and MUBI subscribers; and $10 for Film Society members. See more and save with a 3+ film discount package and All-Access Pass. Plus, our student offerings continue with a specially priced $50 Student All-Access Pass.

Acknowledgments
Hirofumi Sakamoto, Mathilde Rouxel, Arthouse Hotel New York City

Citizens of the Cosmos

 

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

All films screen digitally at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65th St.) unless otherwise noted.

Opening Night
Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream / Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle
Frank Beauvais, France, 2019, 75m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Frank Beauvais’s intimate essay film assembles excerpts from the 400-plus films the French director watched over a four-month period of seclusion in 2016. On the soundtrack, Beauvais speaks of the breakup that led to his retreat, the estranged father with whom he bonded over cinema just before his death, and the symptoms of our current cultural climate that make pressing on an act of resistance. Beauvais’s montage—comprised of both international classics and obscurities—alights upon small but specific details, reframing otherwise incidental images into an indelible and immensely moving reflection on life, love, and loss.
Thursday, April 18, 7:00pm & 9:15pm

Accession
Tamer Hassan & Armand Yervant Tufenkian, USA, 2018, 48m
North American Premiere
Shooting for more than five years in 13 locations around the U.S., Tamer Hassan and Armand Yervant Tufenkian trace a collection of letters to the homes where each was sent or received in this uniquely process-based documentary. The letters, written to accompany seed packets sent between friends and families and dated as far back as 1806, are read aloud by individual narrators, unfolding as personal-poetic reflections on life and labor in rural America. Via a variety of 16mm film stocks, Accession maps a visual and aural correspondence between anonymous people and places with an exploratory flair.  

Preceded by:
A New Use
Monika Uchiyama, Japan/USA, 2018, 24m
World Premiere
Monika Uchiyama’s observational study of her family’s Tokyo-based wax factory captures the love and labor involved in the production and sustainability of handmade goods across generations.
Monday, April 22, 6:30pm

Acid Forest / Rūgštus miškas
Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Lithuania, 2018, 63m
Lithuanian, English, German, French, Spanish, Finnish, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Mandarin, and Estonian with English subtitles
New York Premiere
This wry reinvention of the nature documentary spies upon the local fauna of Lithuania’s Curonian Spit, observing from the same remove the cormorants who nest there and the human tourists who come to puzzle at their curious existence. What looks like a gray, apocalyptic wasteland on Lithuania’s otherwise scenic Baltic coastline—denuded of foliage by the birds’ highly acidic defecations—becomes a Rorschach blot for passing human visitors from all over the world, whose wildly divergent speculations about the cormorants and their habitat comically reveal the human species’ own ambivalent relationship with the natural world.

Preceded by:
Citizens of the Cosmos
Anton Vidokle, USA, 2019, 31m
Japanese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Based on a 1922 manifesto by Ukrainian anarchist Alexander Svyatogor, the latest from artist Anton Vidokle transposes Russian cosmism to present-day Japan. Through a combination of song, speech, and interpretive dance, Svyatogor’s notions of mysticism and immortality find intriguing new resonances.
Wednesday, April 24, 8:45pm

Breathless Animals
Lei Lei, China, 2019, 68m
Mandarin with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In Chinese filmmaker Lei Lei’s first feature, the director’s mother speaks in voiceover about her parents, the trials and tribulations of her youth, Maoist China, and violent dreams of animals fueled by late nights in front of the television. Accompanying these recollections, which drift across the soundtrack, are anonymous still and moving images, found footage, and repurposed photographs, occasionally made to skip, stutter, or slow through analog animation techniques. As memories weave through material evidence of the past, ruptures emerge in the film’s construction, calling upon the mind’s eye to fill in the gaps of history.
Saturday, April 27, 6:45pm

Closing Time
Nicole Vögele, Germany/Switzerland, 2018, 116m
Min Nan with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
At a curbside eatery in Taipei, Mr. Kuo and his wife, Mrs. Lin, cook late into the evening for the city’s night owls. As locals, laborers, and passersby alike stop in for warm bowls of rice, a portrait of a community slowly takes shape through overheard conversations and the routines of the restaurant. Filming patiently and with an unobtrusive hand, the Swiss-born Nicole Vögele takes a holistic approach to her subject, observing with a thoughtful distance the goings-on in front of and behind the counter, and in the process vividly captures a working-class milieu rarely seen on screen.
Thursday, April 25, 8:45 pm

To War

 

Dark Suns / Soleils Noirs
Julien Elie, Canada, 2018, 152m
Spanish with English subtitles
Shot in stark monochrome, Dark Suns chronicles the hundreds of murders of women, journalists, students, and activists in Mexico since the 1990s, and the insidious culture of cartel violence and state corruption behind them. Spanning the notorious femicides in Ciudad Juárez at the northern border to the murders of journalists in Veracruz in the south, director Julien Elie draws on the testimony of determined investigators, family members, journalists, priests, lawyers, and activists, tracing a path of organized and unpunished criminality that involves drug and human trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, and collusion with the governments on both sides of the border.
Saturday, April 27, 3:15pm

Erased,___Ascent of the Invisible / Tirss, Rihlat Alsoo’oud ila Almar’i
Ghassan Halwani, Lebanon, 2018, 74m
Arabic and English with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Lebanese artist Ghassan Halwani’s debut feature is an evocative, procedural investigation of the thousands of people who were disappeared in Beirut throughout the Lebanese Civil War. Nimbly deploying a range of media—including performance art, photoshopped photography, and hand-drawn animation—Halwani crossbreeds narrative and nonfiction devices to arrive at something deeply personal yet morally pertinent. Erased,___Ascent of the Invisible methodically raises powerful, uncompromising questions about the right to live (or to be “officially” killed), and the means by which a nation’s collective memory shaves away one’s sense of past and present.
Saturday, April 27, 1:00pm

Film Catastrophe
Paul Grivas, France, 2018, 55m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank off the coast of Tuscany, killing 32 people. In Film Socialisme (2010), the ship served as an allegorical vessel for Jean-Luc Godard’s pointed political critique. In Film Catastrophe, director, actor, and Film Socialisme co-cinematographer Paul Grivas revisits the events by combining on-set footage of the Godard film and civilian-shot footage captured aboard the Concordia as it ran aground. Made in the spirit of Godard’s frequent companion pieces to his own features, this “anatomy of a disaster” reanimates the ship’s ghostly aura and offers precious insight into Godard’s process.

Preceded by:
Cairo Affaire
Mauro Andrizzi, Argentina, 2019, 25m
North American Premiere
In this amateur espionage thriller, three tales of suspense and conspiracy in the Middle East are communicated through on-screen text. Employing both found and original footage shot in Cairo, Tehran, and Yemen, director Mauro Andrizzi distills real-world anxieties into a gripping reflection on cinematic storytelling.
Saturday, April 20, 1:00pm

The Game / Les Proies
Marine de Contes, France, 2018, 53m
French and Occitan with English subtitles
In this strikingly photographed work of observational nonfiction, director Marine de Contes studies the strange sport of wood pigeon hunting. Deep in France’s Landes forest, a group of gamesmen jerry-rig a complex system of pulleys, tunnels, platforms, and cages; as they patiently await their prey, conversations highlight the cultural and familial traditions still honored by the practice, even as the distant sound of falling trees signals its imminent demise. With close observation, de Contes captures a dying ritual with care and curiosity.

Preceded by:
So Dear, So Lovely
Diana Allan, Canada/Lebanon, 2019, 23m
Arabic with English subtitles
In this two-part tour through the streets of Lebanon, a colorful Palestinian cab driver offers offhand insight into the region’s fraught political and social climate through boisterous serenades and excitable outbursts.
Friday, April 26, 6:30pm

Greetings from Free Forests / Lep pozdrav iz svobodnih gozdov
Ian Soroka, Slovenia/USA/Croatia, 2018, 98m
Slovenian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Underground resistance is made literal in Ian Soroka’s debut feature, which excavates the buried histories of the Partisan Liberation Front, who resisted the Fascist occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II. Through rich landscape cinematography, haunted archival images, and the vivid testimonials of local hunters, foresters, tour guides, and historians, the film traces the hidden historical currents beneath Southern Slovenia’s verdant terrain, exploring cave hideouts, quarries, archaeological sites, unmarked graves, and even a subterranean bunker   that became a film archive.
Sunday, April 21, 1:30pm

Karelia: International with Monument / Carelia, internacional con monumento
Andrés Duque, Spain, 2019, 90m
Russian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Karelia: International with Monument explores the mysterious forests of a remote territory on the Finnish-Russian border, an idyllic setting where shamanic magic and the historical trauma of Stalin’s purges intersect. With his expressive, inquisitive camerawork and a deliriously idiosyncratic approach to montage, Andrés Duque (Oleg and the Rare Arts, Art of the Real 2016) observes local customs, plays with children in the woods, and follows the fraught efforts to commemorate the purges’ forgotten victims, creating a wild, hallucinatory portrait of a place that still bears the traces of ancient folkloric custom—and the wounds of the past.
Tuesday, April 23, 8:45pm

The Stone Speakers

 

Last Night I Saw You Smiling / Yub Menh Bong Keunh Oun Nho Nhim
Kavich Neang, Cambodia, 2019, 75m
Khmer with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Once a thriving artist community and cultural hub, Phnom Penh’s historic White Building has been sold to Japanese condo developers, displacing nearly 500 families. Born and raised in the building, filmmaker Kavich Neang returns to interview friends, neighbors, and family as they prepare to uproot, stirring up the dust and memories that have accumulated in the building’s walls. As longtime residents somberly reflect on their old home and its imminent destruction, summoning memories of Cambodia’s post-independence golden age and of similar evictions during the Khmer Rouge, Neang captures the serene light and music its storied hallways one last time.
Sunday, April 28, 4:30pm

Movements of a Nearby Mountain / Bewegungen eines nahen Bergs
Sebastian Brameshuber, Austria/France/Nigeria, 2019, 86m
Igbo, German, and English with English subtitles
North American Premiere
At the foot of the Austrian Alps, a Nigerian mechanic works in a garage, repairing and exporting cars to his homeland. In the distance is Erzberg, a mountain that’s been mined for iron ore since Ancient Rome. Against this backdrop, the mechanic toils away in relative solitude, his routine labor standing in stark contrast to the resources being mined for capitalist gain in his periphery. A result of director Sebastian Brameshuber’s friendship with the film’s real-life subject and framed around a centuries-old legend of the mine’s mysterious creation, Movements of a Nearby Mountain commingles fact and fiction, myth and memory, in a meditation on man’s place in our globalist economy.
Friday, April 19, 8:45pm

No Data Plan
Miko Revereza, USA, 2019, 70m
English and Tagalog with English subtitles
A cross-country journey from Los Angeles to New York—captured in images of transit zones and passenger-train interiors—serves as the backdrop to this highly personal reflection on the experience of undocumented people in ICE-age America. In his film, riveting in its spareness and attention to banal detail, director Miko Revereza pairs off-hand, observational images of colorless non-places and flat, empty landscapes with stark subtitles that unfold the fraught story of an affair between his mother and a much younger man. These disembodied voices summon images and memories of the Philippines, his family’s country of origin.
Friday, April 19, 6:30pm

Reason / Vivek
Anand Patwardhan, India, 2019, 236m
Hindi with English subtitles
An epic chronicle of India’s ongoing violence against its own people, Anand Patwardhan’s masterfully assembled documentary charts nearly a century’s worth of caste-related persecution carried out in the name of nationalist and religious ideology. Stretching from the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi to the more recent deaths of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, Reason provides a detailed account of the controversies surrounding the murders of many figures associated with the country’s “untouchable” Dalit caste, before exploring the community’s current-day protests and the acts of terrorism that have multiplied as a result of the country’s fall from democracy.
Saturday, April 20, 3:15pm

The Stone Speakers / Kameni Govornici
Igor Drljača, Canada/Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2018, 92m
Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, and English with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
In Igor Drljača’s first nonfiction feature, the Bosnian-born director explores his home country’s heritage and identity through the attractions and landmarks that in recent years have drawn visitors from across the globe. With grace and agility, the film’s camera crisscrosses the landscape, quietly observing tourists as they view statues, pyramids, and various religious sites, each tied to a self-styled, postwar ideology the country hopes to reinforce through the Balkan tourism boom. In The Stone Speakers, myth and memory share space in both the physical world and the collective unconscious, highlighting the danger of culturally prescribed narratives.
Monday, April 22, 8:45pm

Swarm Season
Sarah J. Christman, USA, 2019, 85m
U.S. Premiere
In the shadow of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, a young girl, Manu, and her mother lovingly breed a colony of bees. Meanwhile, as Manu’s activist father protests the construction of a giant telescope on the mountain’s sacred ground, a group of scientists study the landscape in preparation for our inevitable relocation to Mars. Ambitiously linking the earthbound and the cosmic, the intimate and the expansive, director Sarah J. Christman tracks these existentially fraught narratives with an acute attention to time, scale, and historical consequence. As her monumental images gather force, Swarm Season takes on a potent allegorical dimension.
Wednesday, April 24, 6:30pm

To War / Para la guerra
Francisco Marise, Argentina/Spain/Portugal/Panama, 2018, 65m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Living alone in rural Cuba, special forces veteran Andrés Rodríguez Rodríguez maintains his former training regimen: calisthenics, camouflage, and tactical combat exercises. Haunted by memories of the Angolan and Nicaraguan wars, he channels his trauma through his aging but still active body, and seeks comfort by phoning the families of former comrades. Pairing episodes from Andrés’s day-to-day life with military-related archival footage and excerpts from American war movies, this psychological portrait from first-time director Francisco Marise brings the past to bear on the present in visceral fashion.
Preceded by:

Gulyabani
Gürcan Keltek, Netherlands/Turkey, 2018, 34m
Turkish with English subtitles
In Gürcan Keltek’s mesmerizing short, an ostracized clairvoyant recalls traumatic episodes from her past through diary entries and letters to her estranged son. Accompanied by ominous images of the Turkish landscape and unsettling music cues, her words reflect, painfully and poetically, on a lineage of violence left largely unacknowledged.
Sunday, April 28, 6:45pm

While We Are Here / Enquanto estamos aqui
Clarissa Campolina & Luiz Pretti, Brazil, 2019, 75m
Portuguese, English, French, and Arabic with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Charting a relationship from its origins through its aftermath, While We Are Here follows the lives of Lamis, a Lebanese woman, and a Brazilian man named Wilson, who one day meet while living in New York. In alternating voiceover, the pair reflect on their impressions of the city, their courtship, and their eventual separation, as vivid images of urban and rural life trace Lamis and Wilson’s individual paths from New York to Berlin and Brazil, respectively. Equal parts diary film, travelogue, and epistolary drama, this discreetly expanding fiction from partners Clarissa Campolina and Luiz Pretti captures the beauty and fragility of love and its memory.
Thursday, April 25, 6:30pm

Walden
Daniel Zimmermann, Switzerland/Austria, 2018, 106m
An intrepid display of formalist filmmaking, this Thoreau-referencing feature charts a fir tree’s journey from the Austrian countryside to the Brazilian rainforest. Comprised entirely of 360-degree sequence shots, Walden visually maps a course from forest to city to sea, methodically surveying each location along the way. As the tree is cut down, processed into lumber, and transported by train, truck, and cargo ship across the Atlantic, director Daniel Zimmermann highlights the relative value and consequence of globalized trade and man’s place within the larger ecosystem.
Friday, April 26, 8:45pm

Breathless Animals

 

Shorts Program (TRT: 81m)
Julio Iglesias’s House / La Casa De Julio Iglesias
Natalia Marín, Spain, 2018, 13m
U.S. Premiere
Marín’s schematic, clever essay film about a Shanghai municipality’s attempt to build a replica Spanish town is an atypical investigation into the concepts of globalization, housing, and repetition, taking as its inspiration Vilém Flusser’s thought that “we will no longer understand the world through written lines, but through imagined surfaces.”

Walked the Way Home
Eric Baudelaire, France/Italy, 2018, 26m
North American Premiere
Initiated by the song written by the American composer Alvin Curran, Baudelaire’s ominous film charts an itinerary through Europe’s normalized state of armed surveillance. Employing slow motion and vertical video footage, Baudelaire observes armed soldiers as they patrol the streets of various European cities in this reflection on the power structures of modern life

Those Who Desire / Los que desean
Elena López Riera, Switzerland/Spain, 2018, 24m
Spanish with English subtitles
The formalities of courtship and traditional masculinity are acutely observed in this portrait of “colombiculture,” a male-dominated pigeon breeding competition that takes place in the director’s home region of Orihuela, Spain. Winner of the Pardino d’oro for Best Swiss short film at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival.

On Guard / Bo-cho-seo-neun Sa-ram
Jeamin Cha, South Korea, 2018, 18m
Korean with English subtitles
World Premiere
The symmetry of security guarding and caretaking are carefully tracked in this sly hybrid that breaks both jobs’ repetitive rules down to a series of trivial and mysterious events, highlighting a tacit apprehension that fuels both occupations.
Sunday, April 21, 4:15pm

Tribute to Jocelyne Saab: The Beirut Trilogy (TRT: 118m)
Lyrical and uncompromising, the films of Jocelyne Saab (1948-2019) are at once landmark works of Lebanese cinema and masterpieces of the essay film form. Her films’ poetic voiceovers recall Chris Marker, and her fragmented, diaristic images are reminiscent of Jonas Mekas. But Saab’s poetic vision, and her intimate interactions with the displaced, the exiled, and the voiceless, mark her films as uniquely her own. Trained as a radio and television journalist, Saab turned her attention to documentary films in the wake of the Lebanese Civil War. Her epic, impressionistic trilogy of documentaries about Beirut that followed captures a city at once wounded, mournful, and bristling with life and energy, chronicling a moment at which “a kind of bitter poetry has replaced the carelessness of the past.”

Beirut, Never Again
France, 1976, 35m
French with English subtitles
Gunfire and song mix with a poetic voiceover written by the Lebanese writer and painter Etel Adnan in what would become the first entry in Saab’s “Beirut trilogy,” which searches for traces of life amid the bombed-out buildings and errant fires of a ghost city, where even the children have become soldiers, looters, and scavengers.

Letter from Beirut
France, 1978, 48m
French with English subtitles
Dreamlike, melancholy, and cautiously hopeful, this epistolary film finds Saab returning to a Beirut that has irrevocably changed, where she wanders the streets, rides buses, chats with refugees and peacekeepers, and reflects on the war’s toll during a brief moment of peace.

Beirut My City
France, 1982, 35m
French with English subtitles
Considered by Saab to be her most important film, Beirut My City returns Saab and her collaborator, the playwright and director Roger Assaf, to the shell of her former home following Israel’s 1982 invasion, finding small glimmers of hope in the chaos of refugee camps and the rubble of decimated neighborhoods.
Sunday, April 28, 1:30pm

Toshio Matsumoto
The filmmaker and critic Toshio Matsumoto (1932-2017) was both a pioneer of experimental cinema and video art in Japan and a highly influential theorist, challenging the conventions and exploring the boundaries of documentary art, avant-garde film, and narrative cinema alike. From his collaborations with the collective Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) in the late 1950s, through his expressive “neo-documentarist” and electrifying expanded cinema experiments of the 1960s, to his radical appropriation of emerging video technologies in the 1970s and ’80s, Matsumoto’s efforts to reinvent the moving image at the molecular level resulted in one of the most rigorous and expansive bodies of work in the cinema.

Matsumoto Experimental Shorts Program (TRT: 47m)

Vibration
Japan, 1984, 3m
A flicker film made using only intense shock-zooms, Vibration is one of a series of films Matsumoto made in the 1980s that explored proprioception through a mixture of minimalist effects and modernist architecture.

Delay Exposure
Japan, 1984, 3m
Set to a soundtrack of pulsing synth bleats, Delay Exposure rhythmically deploys a low-tech, in-camera tricks—including lens-flares, whip-pans, and rapid, strobing exposure shifts—to builds an affective sense of place and architecture.

Shift
Japan, 1982, 10m
In Shift, Matsumoto utilizes early digital video effects to transform architectural structures into cascading geometric waves and impossibly bubbling surfaces.

Metastasis
Japan, 1971, 8m
This mesmerizing portrait of a toilet was created with an electronic color processor developed for science and medical imaging, resulting in a rhythmic study of color and form with a score by the composer Toshi Ichiyanagi.

Atman
Japan, 1975, 11m
Named after the Sanskrit word for the inner soul, Atman frames a masked demon amid a discolored blood-red trees and sick-green landscape through hundreds of quick zooms and reframings, resulting in one of Matsumoto’s most thorough destabilizations of perception.

For the Damaged Right Eye
Japan, 1968, 12m
An explosive reworking of Funeral Parade of Roses, combined with animation, found footage, and a battery of expanded cinema techniques including multiple projections, For the Damaged Right Eye’s blistering pop collage of psychedelic image manipulations and discordant sonic mashups is true to its title: a violent assault on the senses.
Tuesday, April 23, 7:00pm

Funeral Parade of Roses / Bara no sôretsu
Japan, 1969, 105m
Japanese and English with English subtitles
A monumental work of queer cinema that loosely adapts Oedipus Rex to the radical subcultures of 1960s Japan, Funeral Parade of Roses follows Eddy, a trans woman (the debut role of famed entertainer Peter) as she navigates both Tokyo’s gay-bar demimonde and its revolutionary student movement. Visceral and discordant in style and politics, Matsumoto’s masterpiece takes on a breathlessly inventive queer aesthetic, hybridizing Sirkian melodrama, sexploitation movie luridness, talking-head testimonials, bratty New Wave–isms, and a barrage of experimental film techniques into a dizzying, stroboscopic dreamscape.
Saturday, April 27, 9:00pm

Demons / Shura
Japan, 1971, 35mm, 134m
Japanese with English subtitles
Matsumoto’s minimalist and relentlessly grim second feature marries elements of horror film, noir, and jidai-geki to present a dark vision of fate and the depths of human nature. Adapted from a 19th-century kabuki play and shot in inky monochrome, Demons unfolds the twisty tale of a wronged ronin who unleashes an infernal force of cruelty in his quest for vengeance. Grisly, shocking, and furiously nihilistic, the film is another example of the director’s reinvention of narrative genres through characteristically jagged montage and exhilarating experimental flourishes.
Saturday, April 20, 8:45pm