Film at Lincoln Center presents a series celebrating French film critic Serge Daney (1944–1992) and the films he championed in his book La Rampe, occasioned by its long-awaited English translation by Semiotext(e) under the title Footlights. The series will run from January 26 through February 4, 2024, and will feature a robust selection of works by master filmmakers, with many presented on 35mm or in digital restorations, accompanied by guest introductions. 

In 1983, Daney released La Rampe, a collection of essays published in the seminal film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma over the course of the 1970s. In compiling some of his essential texts from a turbulent decade—one that saw filmmakers exploring new formal, political, and emotional territory as they wrestled with the comedown from the ebullient revolutionary spirit of the ’60s—Daney created a kind of collective self-portrait of a generation of film lovers who used cinema as a means not only to understand the world, but to change it. 

To accompany the arrival of La Rampe in English, Film at Lincoln Center is pleased to offer a generous selection of the films that Daney discussed in its pages, presenting the films referenced above alongside classic titles by Jacques Tati, Ousmane Sembène, Akira Kurosawa, and Robert Bresson, epochal works such as Robert Kramer and John Douglas’s Milestones and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, and a rare screening of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s epic Hitler, a Film from Germany, described by Susan Sontag as “a film altogether exceptional in its emotional expressiveness, its great visual beauty, its sincerity, its moral passion, its concern with contemplative values.” 

With guest introductions from translator and series co-programmer Nicholas Elliott, French filmmaker-critic Axelle Ropert, and others, this series aims not only to bear witness to the catholic taste and acute intelligence of Daney, a thinker whom Jean-Luc Godard recognized as the last in a long critical tradition started by Denis Diderot, but to bring his thought into the present and ask what it means to those working and thinking in film today.  

Organized by Nicholas Elliott and Madeline Whittle.

Léa Baron (Institut Français – Cinémathèque Afrique), Jon Davies; Stéphane Delorme; Hedi El Kholti and Janique Vigier (Semiotext(e)); Audrey Evrard; Lili Hinstin; Steve Macfarlane, Adeline Monzier and Anne Takahashi (Unifrance); Shanny Peer; Jake Perlin; Axelle Ropert.

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