Monday, February 20, 2012

I’ll Be Your Mirror – 750,000 visitors in a square of light

This is the first guest contribution by Dawn Saville. - D. D.

Performance art partisan Marina Abramović’s physical endurance, dedication and scope of vision are emblematic of her career. She once walked the length of the Great Wall of China over the span of three months in a performance piece that was eight years in the making. She is no stranger to public nudity, fasting, self-mutilation, blood, fire and tears. Famously known for carving a pentagram into her stomach before flagellating herself with a whip until her back bled, she also laid in the center of a burning five-pointed star (a symbol of communism of her native Yugoslavia) until she lost consciousness from lack of oxygen.

Forty years later Abramović is securing the immortality of this legendary career in Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, a documentary that has its Canadian premiere as it opens the Reel Artists Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Shot over eleven months in seven countries and racking up 700 hours of footage The Artist is Present delves into Abramović’s beginnings as a performance artist in the early 1970s, through her collaborative work with lover and fellow artist, Ulay, and the explosion of her cult-status solo career. The film’s primary focus, though, is on her 2010 MoMA retrospective of the same name, whose centrepiece is her longest running and most physically and emotionally demanding solo piece to date. Museumgoers lined up for hours, sometimes camping out over night, for a chance to sit in a chair across from Abramović and stare silently into her eyes for as long as they wanted; this lasted 7.5 hours a day, six days a week, for three months. At one point in the film Abramović describes her role in the piece as “a mountain, a stillness, in the middle of hell.”

Indeed, Abramović’s beacon-like presence lends an arresting immediacy to the piece, set within the contemporary-world-in-overdrive (not to mention our collective, waning attention span) that is part of the power and appeal of The Artist is Present. There is something inherently meditative in the simplicity of sitting opposite someone and staring at them in silence. Abramović transforms into an oracle, a medium, a mirror, moving many patrons to tears as they look at their own reflection. As she turns the gaze on her audience, Abramović says “I am the mirror of their own self.”

MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach asserts in the film that “time is a weight on the performer’s shoulders” but it’s clearly a sacrifice Abramović willingly makes for her audience (and, in light the key connections Akers draws between Abramović’s early work and the MoMA show, it’s expected). During its run Abramović’s ribcage began to literally weigh on her internal organs, causing her a great deal of pain. When Biesenbach let’s her know that she can opt to end the piece early, it is no surprise that the ever-stoic Abramović refuses. Chris Lee of writes “in keeping with the piece’s engagement with issues of body and pain, space and time, Abramović began to take on an almost saintly aura.” In the weeks leading up the MoMA opening, we hear Abramović confirm “this is my cross I’m carrying”; fittingly, Biesenbach later concludes that part of Abramović’s goal is to “bring performer and public into the same state of consciousness.” The film definitely posits that Abramović artistic persona is like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world; what viewers think of these lofty statements will be interesting. Abramović is certainly not without her inconsistencies and this is what makes her human. When she accepts an award at the Florence Biennale three months before the MoMA show opens, Akers zooms in on her reading her current manifesto. One of its tenets: “an artist should not make themselves into an idol”; later Abramović tells us “if they idolise me, it’s a side-effect. It’s not the aim of the art, it’s a bi-product. I love bi-product.”

The Artist is Present had its world premiere at Sundance in January, winning the Grand Jury Prize. It also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Berlinale on February 18, screened at the Big Sky Film Festival in Montana on February 17 and is slated for the True/False Film Festival in Columbia Missouri in March. Though it started as an independent, The Artist is Present is now owned by HBO and will be airing in the US in June. Akers states that it was nudity, in part, that dictated going with HBO, though the studio also got them to Sundance. In an interview with’s Bryce J. Renninger, Akers declares that ‘the goal was to make a film for as wide an audience as possible...for the uninitiated and not just the rarefied art world’; in the same interview, Marina speaks similarly about bringing performance art into the mainstream: ‘For me, Lady Gaga and HBO are bringing us to mass culture.’ In the film, Abramović refers to the “incredible responsibility” of introducing performance art to the masses and we see in a media clip that this pressure is very real; though for some she is the grand matriarch of her craft, she is still sometimes viewed as just ‘some Yugoslavian-born provocateur.” Abramović surely sees this as her chance to prove them wrong.

In a documentary with content so colossal, it seems conceivable to leave the form until last. Going beyond Abramović’s rock star stature, Akers does a fine job of capturing Abramović’s frank, eccentric and very witty character. Editor E. Donna Shepherd segues between shots and scenes with significance and more jarring transitions are subtly symbolic in their paradox. Nathan Halpern’s score is often intrusive and particularly heavy-handed in pushing more emotional scenes. As a first-time director, Akers is no innovator, stylistically, but there is some curiously evocative imagery throughout, especially when we see Abramović and her protégés training at her home. There is a balanced mix of past and present footage; the black and white stills and Super 8 from the 70s are beautiful in their trademark graininess, serving their purpose in counterpoint to Abramović’s current work while never being nostalgic. - Dawn Saville

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present opens the Reel Artists Film Festival on February 22nd (the artist, director and producers will be present) and has an encore screening the closing day of the festival, February 26th. The Reel Artists Film Festival is a Canadian Art Foundation Film Festival. The director, Matthew Akers, is part of a Free Filmmakers Panel on February 24th.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wow, A Real Humdinger! (Recent Canadian Short Films)

This is the last of three pieces on Canadian short films, with the two others being on The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar and La Ronde. Also check out the website Nous Sommes Les Filles, which recently did a feature on Sophie Goyette and her new film Le Futur Proche.
In the coming months at Toronto Film Review you can expect essays on the filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock, Joseph Mankiewicz, Brian De Palma, Sacha Guiltry, Stanley Kubrick, Judd Apatow, Clint Eastwood, John Boorman; reviews of books by Robin Wood, Raymond Durgnat, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Pierre Berthomieu; and comments about the French film journals Cahiers du Cinéma, Positif and Trafic. And anything else that pops up that I find to be interesting. – D.D.

There are certain cult films that stand out in Canadian English-language cinema: George McCowan’s Face-Off (1971), Daryl Duke’s The Silent Partner (1978), Leon Marr’s Dancing in the Dark (1986), David Christensen’s Six Figures (2005), Bruce McDonald’s Pontypool (2008), Lee Demarbre’s Smash Cut (2009), Jay Cheel’s Beauty Day (2011), Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun (2011), and Michael Dowse’s Goon (2011). And I would have to add to this list a recent discovery, Simon Ennis’ You Might as Well Live (2009)*. The film is like the hybrid child of Buffalo ‘66 and Observe and Report. It is the story of loser Robert Mutt (Josh Peace) who gets out of an asylum and then struggles to integrate himself back home. He wants to - no, needs to! - prove to the world that he is a real somebody! With Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Iguana), Stephen McHattie and others. You Might as Well Live is a local favorite; it was recently aired on City TV.

Simon Ennis’ last project was a short film called Up in Cottage Country, an update of the Franz Kafka short story about judicial procedures, In the Penal Colony. Shot in crisp black-and-white, the film begins at an Ontario cottage, showing a married couple arguing on the dock. Co-writer Josh Peace plays the husband, George, and a sweet Liane Balaban plays the wife, Annie. George wants to yell at his unmannered brother, sister-in-law and nieces who are visiting. It’s funny to hear George complain because the misdeeds are so insignificant: “Three minute showers - max!” “Wet bathing suits on the couch!”

To relax he goes canoeing, with his pockets full of Voyager premium lager. On this trip he passes through a mysterious fog and a bilingual sign indicating he is no longer in Canadian waters. The absurdist humor begs to be compared with the films of Joel and Ethan Coen. I was reminded most strongly of A Serious Man with its memorable dream sequence where Larry sends his brother off in a boat to Canada.

When George gets off the boat and steps onto an island, he meets a Beckettian defunct military officer (a sinister Julian Richings). The officer is about to perform an execution using a carefully designed apparatus – with the different levels being the draftsman, harrow and bed – on an unsuspecting soldier. This rural military setting – perhaps a comment on the army training bases scattered throughout Canada - is similar to the setting of Denis Côté’s short film Les lignes enemies (2010). Even though there are some differences between the book and Up in Cottage Country - one imagines more a Lawrence of Arabia desert setting – the film is still able to translate and convey Kafka’s story and ideas about punishment, with the concluding moral being to, “Be just!” After George’s ordeal with the apparatus he returns to his wife, who asks, “Have you come to your senses?” Yes, he had come to his senses.
* Ennis’ other short films include: The Business of Suicide (03), The Waldo Cumberbund Story (05), and The Canadian Shield (07). He also edited Ron Mann’s Know Your Mushrooms (2008).
Next up is Rafal Sokolowski’s Three Mothers (2010)*, which he wrote and directed, featuring Kristin Booth, Camilia Scott, and Hannah Hogan. The cinematography by Cabot McNenly shifts from poetic to intense as it captures these women in moments of desperation and relief. Three Mothers is the story of, as the title suggest, three mothers: one who is giving birth to a newborn, a teenage mother who is debating abandoning her child, and another mother whose son is comatose, on life support. Like Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation it subtly deals with the psychological strains and difficulties of what it means to be a parent today. The subject broached by Three Mothers is how parents treat their children and why they do it. In the essay by film critic Brad Stevens on Phillipe Garrel, Childhood: Secret and Otherwise, Stevens refers to Pictures of a Childhood by Alice Miller who writes, “It actually is in the way the newborns have been treated that society makes the first of its many contributions toward equipping a person with destructive and self-destructive tendencies." In Three Mothers the medical institution and the violence it perpetrates towards the babies and mothers is only the start of the problem. As the real problem is the economic and social circumstances surrounding these people. In pointing to these conditions Three Mothers is a bold social critique.
* Sokolowski’s previous short film is Lightchasers (2007) and his production company is Blind Dog Films. There is also a great profile on him at YouNxt Blog.
In the Toronto world of experimental film*, only two newcomers come mind: Clint Enns and Blake Williams. Though I am sure there are others, these two are the ones that I am most familiar and enthusiastic about. I will be elaborating on the work of Williams**.

Wiliams is from Houston, Texas. He studied video and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, then completed graduate studies at the University of Toronto. Those people who are interested in experimental films would be most familiar with Williams’ Coorow-Latham Road, which played at Wavelengths 2011. Andréa Picard included it as an additional highlight of the year in Fast and Furious: The Best of 2011 in Avant-Garde Film. It is a twenty-minute silent drive in rural Australia from Coorow to Latham. And what makes it unique is that it was entirely shot on Google Street View.

Coorow alters the painterly landscape tradition for the digital age leaving on pixels behind. There is the impression of catching something new for the first time through a hallucinatory journey where the richness comes from paying attention to the small changes that are going on in the frame. Through Williams’ emphasis on the digital he differentiates himself from the older generation of Canadian experimental filmmakers like Philip Hoffman, who makes essay-films, and Donigan Cumming, who makes experimental documentaries. Coorow embarks on a poetic, formal, and structural elaboration of new forms of technology. It is about duration, mapping and how we relate to space – real and digital. To describe Coorow’s process Michael Sicinski at MUBI wrote, “For his part, Williams is able to reduce the older tropes of structural realism – duration, physical presence, the flat correspondence of time with space – to a desktop procedure.” Coorow is structural film for the digital age and the floating ride, with it’s 180° pan, is like the zoom in Michael Snow’s Wavelength or the breaking up of the frame in Chris Kennedy’s Tamalpais.

But how did Williams get to Coorow? And how does it relate to his other work? Williams MFA period work, the only work that is is available, goes back to 2009 . They are mostly shorts, usually under the ten minutes mark. To list them off in chronological order there is Hotel Video, The Storm, Ladybug Video, No Signal, Space-Ship, A Cold Compress, Depart, and Coorow Latham Road. And there are the art installations Pupils and Two Rainbows.

I find Hotel Video and The Storm to be the strongest of the early works; they are meditations on landscapes with a strong emphasis on long-takes and dislocating editing. They are filmed in a style that recalls James Benning and Ben Rivers. The other work is almost performative with their simple camera set-up and they show Williams’ interests in technology and illumination. Though key transition work is Depart as it synthesizes his filmic work and integrates it with digital alteration malleability anticipating Coorow.
* The groups responsible for the programming of experimental films in Toronto are Early Monthly Segments, Pleasure Dome, The Free Screen, Images Festival, The 8 Fest, LIFT, Wavelenghts, and in nearby Windsor there is Media City.

** Williams is also a passionate film-blogger, and you can find him at most TIFF Cinematheque retrospectives. His own blog is R, and G, and B. He also writes for Ion Cinema and BlogTO.
In the late sixties, who knew that the guy who made those weird short-films, Transfer, From the Drain and Stereo; would turn out to be one of Canada’s most acclaimed directors? David Cronenberg’s early work anticipates a lot of what would follow like The Brood, Videodrome and A Dangerous Method. These lurid low-budget horror films already show his interest in psychiatry, the mind/body schism, and power relations between men. This just goes to show how important the short-film form is in the fostering of Canadian filmmakers.

The directors of short-films discussed are the ones that make me the most excited about the future of Canadian cinema. If these diverse filmmakers have proved that they can work in the short-film format, with the minimum of resources, I am confident that with more they will be able to create new narratives, forms and images. These filmmakers are investing themselves, their time and money into these projects. Hopefully their films get programmed at film festivals, distributed, seen, and discussed.

At the present moment: Ennis is currently filming a new project in Ft. Worth, Texas. Sokolowski’s new short film Seventh Day is completed, it is a comedy about two Eastern European immigrants who drive a taxicab in Toronto. Williams' next project is a 3D remake of a famous structural film.

Who else do I find to be interesting? There is Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas – the duo that made the great Amy George – and they are, apparently, starting up a new project, which they will start filming soon. The Vancouver-based duo Ryan Flowers and Lisa Pham made a very strong first film, No Words Came Down; hopefully they make something else. Joe Ciaravino’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place should be seen by more people. There are the York university guys Igor Drljača, Luo Li (Rivers and My Father), Nicolás Pereda (Summer of Goliath). Ashley McKenzie is working on a new film When You Sleep about “a misfit young couple facing adult decisions while dealing with a rodent infestation in their slum apartment.” Antoine Bourges new mid-length feature East Hastings pharmacy is having its World Premiere at the Cinéma du Réel as part of the First Films Competition. It is, “The chronicle of a typical pharmacy of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, where most clients are on a treatment that requires taking daily doses of methadone witnessed by the pharmacist.” While Kazik Radwanski’s latest film is in post-production.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Master Precision. Be a precision instrument myself." (Robert Bresson at the Lightbox)

Title: Notes on the Cinematographer
Author: Robert Bresson
Publisher: Green Integer
Pages: 140
Price: $8.95

"These words are more than notes from an experienced film-maker's diary. These words are scars, marks of suffering, they are gems."- J. M. G. Le Clézio

Who are the great filmmakers whose films and method evoke an ideal of what cinema can be? Who are the directors that made the films that have shaped the evolution of the seventh art - laying down its foundation? If I can try to answer these two question, usually with crossover between both answers, I would have to mention: Antonioni, Bergman, Brakhage, Bresson, Cassavetes, Chaplin, Dreyer, Edison, Eisenstein, Eustache, Ford, Flaherty, Garrel, Godard, Griffifth, Hawks, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Keaton, Lang, Lumière brothers, McLaren, Mekas, Méliès, Mizoguchi, Murnau, Ozu, Ray, Renoir, Rossellini, Snow, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Vertov, Vigo and Welles. The fact that the TIFF Cinematheque regularly projects prints of their films, amongst a lot of other stuff, makes it such a valuable asset to the Toronto film community.

The highly anticipated series, which has been in the works for a while, The Poetry of Precision: The Films of Robert Bresson consists of, as Senior Programmer James Quandt, refers to them, "one of film history's most legendary and influential bodies of work." Bresson's thirteen films will have scheduled projections from February 9th to March 30th, with two being introduced by Cinema Studies professors from the University of Toronto: Bart Testa on Un condamné à mort s'est échappé on February 9th and 12th, and Brian Price on Lancelot du Lac on February 20th. I am particularly looking forward to Bresson's early works like Les anges du péché, Les dames du Bois de Boulogne and Affaires publiques as well as Quatre nuits d'un rêveur and L'argent. This series will then go on a North American tour.

There is going to be a book launch for the new edition of the TIFF Cinematheque publication Robert Bresson (Revised), a revision of the 1998 book. For anyone that is unfamiliar with the book, I highly recommend it. I am especially fond of Quandt's introduction and the Raymond Durgnat essay. And To further cement Robert Bresson’s street cred, it also appears on John Waters’ bookshelf in Cindy Sherman's photographs of them in Place Space. Though there is also an essay by Michael Haneke, which I find a little surprising because don't I really see any comparison; instead I think Haneke to be more derivative of the renegade horror director, Wes Craven.

Bresson's films are usually austere and bleak, sparse and daunting. He is known as a modernist director, whose emphasis is that of medium specificity: "What the cinematographer captures with his or her own resources cannot be what the theater, the novel, painting capture with theirs". His particular brand of minimalism is described by András Bálint Kovács', in Screening Modernism, as metonymic minimalism, due to Bresson's usage of off-screen sounds as exposition. While Brian Price would remind us, in Neither God Nor Master, that Bresson's films are also political as their subject matter responded to a growing dissolution in France especially in the later, post-May 1968, films. What I find so captivating about Bresson's work can be best articulated by this Andrei Tarkosvky quote, from an interview between him and Michel Ciment: "Engels expressed a marvelous idea when he said a work of art soars to an even higher plane the profoundly buried - better still, hidden - the idea behind it is. And that's the course we chose to take. We forced ourselves to submerge the idea in the ambiance, in the characters, in the conflicts between different characters." The ideas of sacrifice and redemption hidden in Bresson's films through atmosphere, characters, sound, image, and editing (i.e. cinematography) makes his cinema one of the apogee of film art. Creating images in cinema like the spellbinding bumper car scene in Mouchette where toy-cars hit one another trapping this young little girl in a anarchy of collisions, which rivals with the night-time boating sequence in Strangers on a Train, as the most exciting visual complement to describe a character's situation. There is a brutal intensity mixed with an aesthetic exultation.

With this retrospective one can discover where much of cinema seems to have been spun-off from. The influence of Journal d'un curé de campagne, an adaptation of the George Bernanos novel, as well of Dostoevsky, is readily acknowledged by Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese on their Taxi Driver. You can see the Un condamné à mort s'est échappé influence on Don Siegel's Escape from Alcatraz. Anne Wiazemsky’s immortal performance in her debut role in Au hasard Balthazar, which she would carry around with her in her other films. As well Bresson's mark on Monte Hellman sixties and seventies output or on Jean-Marie Straub’s appropriation of the Bressonian model in Not Reconciled and in Moses und Aron. And for more vibrations of Bresson in contemporary cinema there is his religious influence (i.e. moments of transcendence) in the work of the Dardenne brothers, and the austere and marginal subjects of a Bruno Dumont. Even Stephen Spielberg picked up from Bresson like the Pickpocket homage in his recent, and fantastic, The Adventures of Tintin.

Asides from his films, Bresson is also known for one small little book: Notes on the Cinematographer, whose original French publication was in 1975. It consists of poetic musings sort-of like Kiarostami's Walking with the Wind. As well it is a revered director talking about his art and process similar to Ray's I was Interrupted. It is an intense little log-book full of his likings and his disliking, references to the Renaissance and Classicism, composers and Kabuki theater, the relationship between photography and reality, theater and cinema; Pascal, Debussy, Purcell, Baudelaire, a short film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo etc. The book is divided into two periods: 1950-1958 (which includes the subtitles: Human Models, On Looks, On True and False, On Music, On Automatism, On Poverty, Sight and Hearing, Gestures and Words, The Real, On Fragmentation, Exercises) and Further Notes: 1960-1974. For English readers there is the Green Integer edition, which has an introduction by J. M. G. Le Clézio and is translated in by Jonathan Griffin.

Who can forget the appearance of Notes on the Cinematographer in Godard’s Éloge de l'amour? When a woman picks it up and starts reciting lines as if it is a holy doctrine. Notes on the Cinematographer presents a high standard of criteria on how to judge films - Bresson’s and others.

Here are some excerpts of his Notes on the Cinematographer:

"The faculty of using my resources well diminishes when their number grows."

"Metteur en scène, director. The point is not to direct someone, but to direct oneself."

"No Actors.
(No directing of actors.) No parts.
(No learning of parts.) No staging.
But the use of working models, taken from life.
BEING (models) instead of SEEMING (actors)."

"(1925?) The TALKIE opens its doors to theater which occupies the place and surrounds it with barbed wire."

"Two types of film: those that employ the resources of the theatre (actors, direction, etc.) and use the camera in order to reproduce; those that employ the resources of cinematography and use the camera to create."

"On the choice of models
His voice draws for me his mouth, his eyes, his face, makes for me his complete portrait, outer and inner, better than if he were in front of me. The best deciphering got by the ear alone."

On two deaths and three births. My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and the real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.”

"To your models: " Don't think what you're saying, don't think what you're doing." And also: "Don't think about what you say, don't think about what you do.""

"One single mystery of persons and objects."

"Cinematography, a military art. Prepare a film like a battle."

"No music as accompaniment, support or reinforcement. No music at all. "

"The Noises must become music."

"You shall call a fine film the one that gives you an exalted idea of cinematography."

"Your film - let people feel the soul and the heart there, but let it be made like a work of hands."

"Catch instants. Spontaneity, freshness."

"In ***, a film that smacks of the theatre, this great English actor keeps fluffing to make us believe that he is inventing his lines as he goes along. His efforts to render himself more alive do just the opposite."

"A too-expected image (cliché) will never seem right, even if it is."

"A sigh, a silence, a word, a sentence, a din, a hand, the whole of your model, his face, in repose, in movement, in profile, full face, an immense view , a restricted space... Each thing exactly in its place: your only resources."

"The insensible bond, connecting your furthest apart and most different images, is your vision."

"Let it be the feelings that bring about the events. Not the other way."

"Cinematography: new way of writing, therefore of feeling."

"In every art there is a diabolical principle which acts against it and tries to demolish it. Analogous principle is perhaps not altogether unfavorable to cinematography."

"Forms that resemble ideas. Treat them as actual ideas."

"Model. "All face."”

"Someone who can work with the minimum can work with the most. One who can with the most cannot, inevitably, with the minimum."

"If, on the screen, the mechanism disappears and the phrases you have made them say, the gestures you have made them make, have become one with your models, with your film, with - then a miracle."

"Hide the ideas, but so that people find them. The most important will be the most hidden."

"CINEMA seeks immediate and definitive expression through mimicry, gestures, intonations of voice. This system inevitably excludes expression through contacts and exchanges of images and of sounds and the transformations that result from them."

"Not to shoot a film in order to illustrate a thesis, or to display men and women confined to their external aspect, but to discover the matter they are made of. To attain that "heart of the heart" which does not let itself be caught either by poetry, or by philosophy, or by drama."

"Nothing too much, nothing deficient."

"Music takes up all the room and gives no increased value to the image to which it is added."

"Draw the attention of the public (as we say that a chimney draws)."

"A small subject can provide the pretext for many profound combinations. Avoid subjects that are too vast or too remote, in which nothing warns you when you are going astray. Or else take from them only what can be mingled with your life and belongs to your experience."

"Of lighting: Things made more visible not by more light, but by the fresh angle at which I regard them."

"Bring together things that have as yet never been brought together and did not seem predisposed to be so."

"A single word, a single movement that is not right or is merely in the wrong place gets in the way of all the rest."

"Model. His pure essence."

"The exchanges that are produced between images and images, sounds and sounds, images and sounds, give the people and objects in your films their cinematographic life and, by a subtle phenomenon, unify your composition."

"All those effects you can get from repetition (of an image, of a sound)."

"If a sound is the obligatory complement of an image, give preponderance either to the sound, or to the image. If equal, they damage or kill each other, as we say of colors."

"The sight of movement gives happiness: horse, athlete, bird."

"x demonstrates a great stupidity when he says that to touch the masses there is no need of art."

"A whole gaggle of critics making no distinction between CINEMA and cinematography. Opening an eye now and then to the actors' inadequate presence and performance, shutting it again at once. Obliged to like in a lump all that is projected on to the screens."

"No psychology (of the kind which discovers only what it can explain)."

"Economy: Make known that we are in the same place by repetition of the same noises and the same sonority."

"It is in its pure form that an art hits hard."

"Do not use the same models in two films. (1) One would not believe in them. (2) They would look at themselves in the first film as one looks at oneself in the mirror, would want people to see them as they wish to be seen, would impose a discipline on themselves, would grow disenchanted as they corrected themselves."

"See your film as a combination of lines and of volumes in movement apart from what it represents and signifies."

"Displaying everything condemns CINEMA to cliché, obliges it to display things as everyone is in the habit of seeing them. Failing which, they would appear false or sham."

"Shooting. You will not know till much later if your film is worth the mountain rage of efforts it is costing you."

"Silence, musical by an effect of resonance. The last syllable of the last word, or the last noise, like a held note."

"Cinematography films: emotional, not representational."

"Let the cause follow the effect, not accompany it or precede it."

"Several takes of the same thing, like a painter who does several pictures or drawings of the same subject and, each fresh time, progresses towards rightness."

"In the Greek Catholic liturgy:"Be attentive!""

"The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine."

"Ten properties of an object, according to Leonardo: light and dark, color and substance, form and position, distance and nearness, movement and stillness."

"The people I pass in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées appear to me like marble figures moved forward by springs. But let their eyes meet mine, and at once these walking and gazing statues become human."

"Hollow idea of "art cinema," of "art films." Art films, the ones most devoid of it."

"To forge for oneself iron laws, if only in order to obey or disobey them with difficulty."

"In X's eyes the cinema is a special industry; in Y' an enlarged theatre. Z sees the box office figures."

"The future of cinematography belongs to a new race of young solitaries who will shoot films by putting their last penny into it and not let themselves be taken in by the material routines of the trade."

"In your passion for the true, people may see nothing but faddism."

"(1963) Left Rome abruptly, abandoned irrevocably the preparatory work for Genesis, to cut short idiotic discussions and desecrating obstruction. How strange it is that people can ask you to do what they themselves would certainly be prevented from doing, because they do not know what it is!"

"What economy!"

"Bach at the organ, admired by a pupil, answered: "It's a matter of striking the notes at exactly the right moment.""

"For want of truth, the public gets hooked on the false. Falconetti's way of casting her eyes to heaven, in Dreyer's film, used to draw tears."

"These horrible days - when shooting film disgusts me, when I am exhausted, powerless in the face of so many obstacles - are part of my method of work."

"Precision of aim lays one open to hesitations. Debussy: "I've spent a week deciding on one chord rather than another."

"Oscars to actors whose body, face and voice do not seem to be theirs, do not produce any certainty that they belong to them."

"MASTERPIECES. The masterpieces of painting or sculpture, such as the Giaconda or the Venus of Milo, have so many reasons for being admired that they are admired for both the good and the bad ones. CINEMA masterpieces are often admired only for the bad ones."

"In the NUDE, all that is not beautiful is obscene."

"Cézanne: "A chaque touche, je risque ma vie."

"Let nothing be changed and all be different."

"DIVINATION - how can one not associate that name with the two sublime machines I use for my work? Camera and tape recorder carry me far away from the intelligence which complicates everything.