At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
August is “The Month of Reality” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, August 15: Black Sun (2005) by Gary Tarn – 75 mins – UK, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.
Stunning visuals in a documentary about a painter gone blind.
Justpressplay: As director Gary Tarn floats the camera high above the rooftops of New York City’s bustling metropolis and people scurry far below like ants, it’s with a creeping sense of it-could-happen-to-anyone dread that we listen to narrator Hughes De Montalembert describe the brutal and senseless attack on his person that robbed him of his sight. One night, outside his home near Washington Square, two men forced him inside and demanded money. When Hughes informed them he didn’t have any the situation turned ugly and the men attacked him. While attempting to fight one of the men off with a poker from the fireplace, the other sprayed paint remover into his eyes, blinding him.
As an artist and filmmaker the sheer psychological devastation is almost beyond comprehension. But rather than give up and resign himself to the darkness, Hughes’ story is one of hope, triumph and a gentle hymn to the indomitable nature of the human spirit. With a quiet air of dignity, Hughes's gentle, warbling narration combined with Tarn's opaque cinematography act as a sort of lullaby to the senses as he at once captivates you with his soothing tones and regales you with his enlightening and empowering struggle. As Hughes describes the slow deterioration of his sight in the hours following the attack, Tarn fades us in and out with dark, grimy yellow filters and oblique tracking as slowly we too are plunged into darkness.
From there it’s a journey of rediscovery as Hughes begins his rehabilitation…
Variety: The documentary "Black Sun," first feature by composer-turned-filmmaker Gary Tarn, provides a window on the world of blind artist Hughes de Montalembert. Accompanied by footage of street scenes and exotic locales, often deliberately shown out of focus to mimic impaired vision, de Montalembert, who had been a painter and filmmaker, frankly recounts how he lost his sight but conquered despair to lead a full and well-traveled life. Although the relation between sound and vision occasionally strikes too literal a note, de Montalembert's compelling story and Tarn's painterly imagery capably sustain the succinct running time.
As sweeping helicopter shots establish location in New York City, de Montalembert's voiceover explains how thieves threw paint thinner in his eyes in his own apartment in 1978, leaving him capable of seeing only light and vague shapes. At first nearly suicidal, he gradually learned how navigate Manhattan by himself, and eventually traveled alone to Indonesia, where he wrote a book by hand describing his experience. Tarn's digitally filmed footage of passersby is elegantly composed, his rich, self-penned soundtrack even more so.
2006 Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival / Grand Prix Winner
"A work for all places and times; for anyone who seeks fully to live, to engage, it is indeed essential viewing" Time Out *****
Gary Tarn's remarkable film Black Sun, winner of many international awards and co-produced by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Children of Men) and John Battsek (One Day in September), tells the story of Hughes de Montalembert, a French artist and filmmaker living in New York, who was blinded during a violent assault in 1978.
Seul-le-cinema: The images that Tarn chooses to accompany the narration usually do not illustrate the painter's story in any literal way. There are but two scenes where the images correspond to the physical reality of the story: one in which a pair of steel wraparound "glasses" are created to shield Montalembert's eyes, and another in which he describes how he lost 12 pages of writing because he was unable to tell that his pen had run out of ink. For the latter scene, Tarn stages a recreation, showing a blank notebook with his subject's pen running across the page, scribbling unseen words that will never be read as the page remains unmarked. It is the only point in the film in which the images ostensibly show Montalembert himself, even though we only see the narrator's hand holding a pen. Throughout the rest of the film, Tarn's camera is even more oblique.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, August 22: Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation (1999) by Chris Rodley, Dev Varma – 150 mins – UK, Documentary/ History.
This presentation will consist of the last three episodes of this six-part television documentary mini-series, originally aired on British television in 1999. Each episode lasts about 50 minutes.
The complete series is a serious, non-titillating history of pornography, from the earliest days of erotic art right up to the present day's multimedia. Each of the six parts focuses on a different aspect of the history of pornography.
Ten years in the making, the series told for the first time on British television the history of pornography: it charts the changes in sexual imagery prompted by the advent of new technologies over thousands of years, from ancient times to print, photography, film, video and the Internet. With unprecedented access to the modern porn industry, interviews with pornography experts and historians, and an unparalleled collection of archival material, it is also the story of how these technological mediums influenced the development of pornography, who used it, how it was distributed, and how it was censored.
But the real story of pornography is also a secret history of civilization. Pornography, far from being some smutty sideshow on the margins of society, has in fact played a vital and central role in civilization and our cultural evolution.
Each program focuses on a different technology and how that new technology revolutionized pornography and made it available to new groups of people, however hard the authorities tried to control it.
Episode Four: Twentieth Century Foxy: Film
Covers the rise of the porn film industry. But porn on film, and the porn cinema was an interstitial time. At the end of the 70s the new vehicle for porn was video.
Episode Five: Sex Lives on Videotape: Video
Shows how the advent of video ended pornography's crossover dreams. Video re-made pornography in its own image, replacing the glamour and fantasy of the movies with a real documentary style. The most significant contribution of video was that it turned consumers into producers; the audience picked up cameras and started recording their sex lives on videotape.
Episode Six: Pornotopia: Digital
Future Schlock looks at the new era of digital manipulation and asks how digital technology has affected the pornography that we produce, and the way we consume it. Some people say that the Internet has dealt the biggest blow yet to the establishment. Pornography in physical forms - books, magazines, and videos - could always be seized and destroyed, but on the Net, pornography has shed its physical form and gone digital.
DVD verdict: [The site has a good discussion of this film] Pornography is pretty explicit for a made for television documentary. There is no actual penetration shown, but pretty much everything else is fair game. Female nudity is something that has almost become routine (and the documentary has theories as to why). But if too many penises give you the willies (I know, but I figured we needed to get that joke out of the way already), then you will not feel comfortable with this series. Pornography does not shy away from showing bodies and describing everything bodies do, right out in the open with good lighting. This is history, and the show treats every artifact with respect.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, August 29: Every Little Thing / La moindre des choses (1997) by Nicolas Philibert – 105 mins – France, Documentary.
The protagonists in this film are the patients and staff at the La Borde psychiatric institute in France, set in the tranquil woods of the Loire Valley. Each summer the institute performs a play on a stage set in the beautiful grounds of the chateau. This film charts the passage of this magical event and allows the viewer a glimpse at life in one of the world's most highly regarded psychiatric institutions. Philibert, director of the hugely-acclaimed Etre et avoir and In the Land of the Deaf, calmly and compassionately builds an experience that is less like watching a documentary and more like being enveloped in a book of breathlessly honest poetry. He delicately celebrates the work of La Borde and quietly makes us question the distinctions that society applies in the classifications of normal and abnormal.
DVD available from Amazon.com.