projection 11:

City Symphonies (Part 1)

4pm / 29 March 2009  
Ha'penny Bridge Inn, upstairs (Dublin)


"In this film, by showing certain basic aspects of a city, a way of life is put on trial... the last gasps of a society so lost in its escapism that it sickens you and makes you sympathetic to a revolutionary solution." Jean Vigo described the film in an address to the Groupement des Spectateurs d'Avant-Garde. ‘À Propos de Nice’ is a 1930 silent short film directed by Jean Vigo and photographed by Boris Kaufman. The film depicts life in Nice, France by documenting the people in the city, their daily routines, a carnival and social inequalities. A propos de Nice constructs around the central motif of the carnival a savage, frenetic vision of a superficial society in a state of putrefaction. As bold in its formal experimentation as it is in its gleefully morbid fascination with ugliness, the grotesque humour of its portraits of the holidaymakers that swarm over the Promenade des Anglais (sometimes suggestively intercut with shots of animals!) is brutally undercut by images of distressing poverty. The uneasy atmosphere of indolence and boredom boiling over into lustful frenzy while willfully ignoring the encroaching sense of death and decay that surround it makes this Vigo's darkest film. A propos de Nice limits itself to the death dance of caricatures, caricatures all the more startling for being stolen from life with a hidden camera. What is already present in A propos de Nice is Vigo's ability to capture the natural beauty of a real, non-studio setting and spontaneously elaborate on the impression, transforming the commonplace into the magical. His eye for atmosphere and detail would grow from film to film, but from the outset it was rooted in a documentary practice that simultaneously transcended the documentary."
(Le Cain, Maximilian., Senses of Cinema


Live music by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly (Dublin)

"I am an eye. I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, I am showing you a world, the likes of which only I can see" Dziga Vertov

"I was returning from the railroad station. In my ears, there remained chugs and bursts of steam from a departing train. Somebody cries in laughter, a whistle, the station bell, the clanking locomotive...whispers, shouts, farewells. And walking away I thought I need to find a machine not only to describe but to register, to photograph these sounds. Otherwise, one cannot organize or assemble them. They fly like time. Perhaps a camera? That records the visual. But to organize the visual world and not the audible world? Is this the answer?"- Dziga Vertov

‘The man with Movie Camera’ is a silent feature length film directed by Dziga Vertov and photographed by his brother Mikail Kaufmann. It is shot in more than one city and depicts Soveit urban life in general. Vertov says in his essay "The Man with a Movie Camera" that he was fighting "for a decisive cleaning up of film-language, for its complete separation from the language of theater and literature. For Vertov, "life as it is" means to record life as it would be without the camera present. "Life caught unawares" means to record life when surprised, and perhaps provoked, by the presence of a camera This explanation contradicts the common assumption that for Vertov "life caught unawares" meant "life caught unaware of the camera."

"We all felt...that through documentary film we could develop a new kind of art. Not only documentary art, or the art of chronicle, but rather an art based on images, the creation of an image-oriented journalism" Mikhail Kaufmann.

‘Man with a Movie Camera’ is at once a documentary, a newsreel and an experimental film. It reveals Vertov’s deep criticism of a cinema and documentary tradition tied to narrative and literary structure. He deconstructs the image by using different camera techniques slow motion, fast motion freeze frame etc. In the use of these more abstract and cinematic techniques he reveals an everyday experience. Often using hidden cameras he seeks a new cinematic truth. The images become linked by chance, rhythm and visual connections.

Curated by Aoife Desmond.