This program features two of Dulac’s key works—The Seashell and the Clergyman, considered the first surrealist film, and La Folie des vaillants, a symbolist portrait of gypsy romance—and a series of abstract studies of the arabesque form. On August 24, cellist and composer Leila Bordreuil will provide live musical accompaniment for The Seashell and the Clergyman.

Étude cinématographique sur une arabesque (1929, 7m, 35mm)
A “cinegraphic ballet,” this abstract film—inspired by the first and second arabesques of Claude Debussy—uses rays of light, spouting water, spider webs, and other natural motifs to enact a visual dance.

Thèmes et variations (1929, 9m, 35mm)
Dulac returned to the arabesque form in this abstract study of a dancer, a dialectical sequence of comparisons and contrasts that places the human body in opposition to natural and mechanical phenomena alike.

Disque 957 (1929, 6m, 35mm)
Earlier in her career, Dulac had developed a narrative script about the life of the Romantic composer Frederic Chopin. This abstract study of the interplay of light and movement on a spinning record was conceived as a “visual impression… [of] listening to Chopin’s Preludes 5 and 6.”

La Folie des vaillants (1925, 46m, 35mm)
A symbolist portrait of two gypsies in love, this captivating film finds Dulac deconstructing onscreen gender roles and striving to achieve her idea of cinema as a “visual symphony,” emphasizing rhythmic editing over acting to achieve a “cinema of suggestion.” Print courtesy of the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC).

The Seashell and the Clergyman / La Coquille et le clergyman (1928, 40m, 35mm)
Based on a script by Antonin Artaud, Dulac’s best-known work is a masterful exploration of rhythm within an image and between images, and is considered the first surrealist film.

Bordreuil is a Brooklyn based cellist and composer from Aix-en-Provence, France. She works in the realm of Noise music, improvisation, New Music and sound-art. Her cello playing is often improvised, and mainly focuses on texture variations and a collage of phantom overtones and pitched utterances. Through an original vocabulary of extended techniques, preparations, and imaginative amplification methods, her instrument is used as an abstract resonant body to challenge conventional cello practice. Her composed works draw from a similar texture-based musical aesthetic, but also focus on the relationship between sound and space. In her site-specific electro-acoustic compositions, architecture is the foundation of the piece and musicality arises from an organized spacialization of sound.