The Forum already turned its attention to American director Shirley Clarke (1919-1997) last year. It is thanks to the untiring research and restoration work carried out by American distributor Milestone Films that Clarke’s Portrait of Jason can now be screened as an additional revival. In the director’s own room at the Chelsea Hotel, an Afro-American hustler called Jason Holiday talks of the different roles he plays in life: male prostitute, housemaid, con-artist, worker at a graveyard for dogs and nightclub entertainer. In the process, this provocative film questions our ideas of identity and truth.
An initiative by the Arsenal “Living Archive” project has led to the seminal Indian documentary Kya hua is shahar ko? (What Happened to This City?) by Deepa Dhanraj being digitalised and restored. The riots between Hindus and Muslims in 1984 form the starting point for this film of immense political power, which analyses the mechanisms of political power struggles as well as the instrumentalisation of economic conditions and municipal poverty.
The rediscovery of the only feature length film by Dominique Benicheti is a true film historical revelation. Le cousin Jules, which was shown at a few festivals in 1973/74 before being largely forgotten, is today seen as a milestone in documentary filmmaking. This extremely minimalist film shot in cinemascope and colour with stereo sound actually took 6 years of painstaking work to produce, following the ritualised everyday life of an 80-year-old farmer and blacksmith from Burgundy before gradually blossoming into a moving swansong to a bygone era.
Cheongchun-eui sipjaro (Crossroads of Youth), a melodrama about the adventures of a country boy in the big city of Seoul, is the oldest surviving Korean feature film and the only one by director Ahn Jong-hwa to have been preserved. The end of the Japanese occupation, the division of the country and the devastating war between North and South did as much to destroy film historical heritage as carelessness in the post-war era. What has not been lost, however, are the memories of the art of mise-en-scène, the film narrators called “pyeonsa”, the music and the costumes that all formed part of silent film performances in the 1930s. Taking these memories as his inspiration, director Kim Tae-yong (Late Autumn, Forum 2011) has put together a modernised stage show for the revival of this cinematic gem complete with orchestra, narrator and singers, which is now coming to Berlin thanks to the generous support of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea, the Koreanische Kulturzentrum, the Korean Film Council, the Korean Film Archive and the Busan International Film Festival.
Le cousin Jules by Dominique Benicheti, France 1973
Cheongchun-eui sipjaro (Crossroads of Youth) by Ahn Jong-hwa, Korea 1934
Kya hua is shahar ko? (What Happened to This City?) by Deepa Dhanraj, India 1986
Portrait of Jason by Shirley Clarke, USA 1967
Kanko no machi (Jubilation Street), Japan 1944
Onna (Woman), Japan 1948
Konyaku yubiwa (Engagement Ring), Japan 1950
Yuyake gumo (Farewell to Dream), Japan 1956
Shito no densetsu (A Legend or Was It?), Japan 1963
January 21, 2013