Links

O ESTADO DA ARTE


Une femme mariée (1964), Jean-Luc Godard.


Une femme mariée (1964), Jean-Luc Godard.


Bande à part (1964), Jean-Luc Godard.


Bande à part (1964), Jean-Luc Godard.


Opération béton (1955), Jean-Luc Godard.


Le Rapport Darty (1989), Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville.


Le Rapport Darty (1989), Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville.


Le Rapport Darty (1989), Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville.


Film Socialisme (2010), Jean-Luc Godard.


Film Socialisme (2010), Jean-Luc Godard.


Film Socialisme (2010), Jean-Luc Godard.


Trailer para a 22ª edição do Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, 2018, realizado por Jean-Luc Godard.


Auto-retrato Jean-Luc Godard, 2017.

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NICOLE BRENEZ - CINEMA REVISITED

DASHA BIRUKOVA

2020-10-02




 

Nicole Brenez

 

 

Nicole Brenez is a French film historian and theorist. She teaches film studies at Paris 3 University and curates the experimental and avant-garde programs at the Cinémathèque Française. Her publications include: De la Figure en général et du Corps en particulier. L’invention figurative au cinéma (De Boeck Université, 1998), Abel Ferrara (Illinois University Press, 2007), Traitement du Lumpenproletariat par le cinéma d’avant-garde (Séguier, 2007), Cinéma d’avant-garde Mode d’emploi (Gendaishicho-shinsha Publishers, 2012), «‘We support everything since the dawn of time that has struggled and still struggles.’ Introduction to lettrist cinema» (Moderna Muset/Sternberg Press, 2015), Jean-Luc Godard: théoricien des images (La Camera Verde, 2015). She was one of the editors of the film «Le livre d'image» by Jean-Luc Godard.
The filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux produced the collection "It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve" dedicated to revolutionary filmmakers forgotten by cinema's history. The first episode, shot by Philippe Grandrieux and devoted to Masao Adachi, received 3 awards: New Vision Award, Cph: Dox, Copenhagen (Denmark), 2011; Grand Prix Expérimental – Essai – Art Vidéo, Festival Côté Court de Pantin (France), 2012; Grand Prix du Documentaire, International Film Festival of Cultural Resistance in Beirut, 2013. This year, Curtas Vila do Conde will present the section "Cinema Revisited" with a unique program - Jean-Luc Godard: Pro-Motion. This unique program by the French curator and film critic Nicole Brenez focuses on promoting its own films, such as various trailers, that the Franco-Swiss director created between 1955 to 2019, the real rescue of a vast and valuable set of works less known. From October 7 to 9, these sessions will take place in room 2 of the Municipal Theater of Vila do Conde.


 

Interview by Dasha Birukova

 

 

>>>

 


Dasha Birukova: How did you start to work with Jean-Luc Godard?

Nicole Brenez: All my life, I totally worship Godard's work. One of my first classes at the university was about him, and of course, I saw all his films. But I would never think of working with him and even meet him. It came as a generous gift from life. The first time we met was precisely this way as we talk now, through screens. It was in 2004 during the preparation of his exhibition at Centre Pompidou curated by Dominique Païni. For two years, and with Alain Fleischer, also a great filmmaker and visual artist (head and founder of the Atelier national des arts contemporains "Le Fresnoy,") prepared what became Voyage(s) en utopie (2006). One of the main principles was to explore the notion of "studio." They established a technical connection between Le Fresnoy from the North of France and Jean-Luc Godard' workshop in Rolle, Switzerland, to see his work regularly. Jean-Luc's idea was for the students to see him working, as people would have seen Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci working in their studio. So, it was the idea to desacralize the artist; to see how concrete it was and simultaneously invisible. Not at all just align tangible products because it's all life, brains, and hands. Alain Fleischer and Dominique Païni organized series of dialogues between Jean-Luc Godard and several other specialists on his work and longtime collaborators such as Jean Narboni or Jean Douchet. I was one of the people invited. The first time Jean-Luc Godard and I "met" was through the series; I was at Le Fresnoy, Jean-Luc was at Rolle. We exchanged some dialogues, but I mainly asked him to comment on some images I had questions about. I was totally impressed and timid, and he was Jean-Luc Godard, fabulous as always. He appreciated that because since then, he invited me to a preview of Film Socialism (2010). It wasn't a premiere of the film, but the screenings for three collaborators. He invited me to this screening; I came but wasn't dare to say anything to him personally. But one day, his right arm Jean-Paul Battaggia asked me to begin to work for Jean-Luc, as he needed to see some rare films for his project that at those times wasn't titled yet Le livre d'image (2018). As I found movies progressively, I became officially hired for the project. It was a magnificent story. During the whole process that lasts three years, I had absolute happiness and privilege to become closer and closer to the project and Jean-Luc himself. According to my own experience, I discovered someone who is absolutely kind, generous, friendly, not terrifying, or angry or melancholic as he is sometimes described.

 

DB: How could you describe Godard's achievement for a person who is not into the cinema studies?

NB: Jean-Luc Godard's work is a synthesis of cinema. Suppose one day, by any cataclysm, cinema disappears (like dinosaurs did). In that case, Jean-Luc films or one of his sequences - like DNA – will allow people in the future to understand cinema: Its richness, and what kind of questions are raised. This principle of creating some sort of synthesis, and as a whole, is precisely one of the meanings of the magnificent fresco of the Histori(es) of cinema. This fresco is a synthesis of all: the questions, the matters, proposals, enigmas, mysteries elaborated by the cinema with the cinema and all kinds of exchanges between the cinema and the other arts, between cinema and reality, between cinema and history.

 

DB: Once Godard told that the main problem of mass-market cinema is that it's provides an illusion of reality, but the real cinema should depict the reality of illusion. Do you think that his films show us the reality of illusion?

NB: In the case of Godard, I think that both proposals are correct. But the first one – "illusion of reality," does, not chronologically but logically, come first. When this one was elaborated correctly or inventively by the film, only then one can pretend to have a relationship with history, feeling, and a human experiment in a certain way. To investigate the illusion and elaborate reality. First, what is essential in this process is understanding what an image is and, more broadly, a representation. This also allows you to think of an image as a reflection, not just as a reproduction of reality but as creation: an act, a gesture: an idea that changes reality. So, it's a very predictive, affirmative way of gratifying cinema.

 

DB: Also, I read that Jean-Luc Godard thought that cinema would establish itself as an instrument of cognition, a microscope..., a telescope... Which are today's audience expectations towards cinema?

NB: It's now challenging to answer such question universally, as, for example, film critics or theoreticians of cinema could do during the 20th century when one can think about and from a unique conception of spectatorship or cinephilia. I do not believe that this question is legitimate, but there are as many answers as films. Each great film can construct its own audience and expectations. A great movie invents its rules, horizon, and audience.

 

DB: Could you speak to the intention of creating a program of Godard's promotional works at Vila do Conde?

NB: The idea was first to put together many works by Godard that are considered minors and sometimes rarely shown. It has three dimensions: commercials, films made for companies, and trailers. The aim of this program is to show how Jean-Luc Godard reinvents what we call in France "le film de commande": A film produced by and for a company or institution, as Georges Franju did for the Ministry of Defence in Hôtel des Invalides (1952), or Alain Resnais and Raymond Queneau for Péchiney in Le Chant du Styrène (1958), two canonical examples. The "film de commande" is not supposed to be a personal statement about the world or a private view on the phenomenon; it's just supposed to fill the needs and requirements of the sponsor. Of course, the great authors in cinema and other arts either fulfill this "commande" brilliantly like Stéphane Mallarmé or Alain Resnais, or subverting these orders with genius, like Franju. Jean-Luc Godard makes both gestures, alternatively, or at the same time. For him, the charge is not only something to subvert, to refuse or to overcome, but also something to analyze. The order becomes material for invention.
One of his most brilliant films, Le rapport Darty (1989) – offers a masterpiece of "film de commande" because it's a precise manifesto or kind of manual of how to deal with the order. Furthermore, every film or every representation comes directly or indirectly from the social order. Every film is a "film de commande". In this sense, the critical artist must understand what social order is. For example, many magnificent artists were happy to serve the 1917 Revolution, like Mayakovski, who responded to social and political order. In some way, it was a model for many other artists in the reactionary context. But since the 18th century, a true artist is supposed to refuse to obey any social order. There is also an alternative proposal that Jonas Mekas named "useless cinema.": art must have nothing to do with society and create its own world. There are three aesthetic possibilities related to "films de commande." These are acceptance of social order (when it's revolutionary) or the ability to deconstruct such as Godard. Also, the decision to deny it and build your own world, with your own rules.

 

DB: There is a strong tendency that established filmmakers do commercials or video clips, from Derek Jarman, who did videos for Marianne Faithfull or Philippe Grandrieux for Marilyn Manson, how do you see this symptom from the film studies perspective?

NB: It's not a symptom. It's merely the most explicit, or let's say a genuine part of the film industry. It has always existed, cinema is too expensive to make, there is a vast and fascinating tradition of artists dealing with commercial work. One of the masters of this practice was the anarchist Georges Franju, who was one of the co-founders of the Cinemathèque Française. Franju showed how to fill and also how to transgress "le film de commande." There are some interesting studies about this practice. Starting with the lessons by Gérard Leblanc, who was a teacher, filmmaker, and leader of the group Cinéthique. the "little brother of the group Dziga Vertov in the 1960s and 1970s. Gérard Leblanc is a specialist in the films ordered by the industry, in Georges Franju, and in the cinematic technical tools' ideological dimension.

 

DB: You significantly contributed to film theory. Tell us about the idea of figurative analysis, and the relationship between «régimes d'Images» and «économie figurative»?

NB: Yes, it's totally related to Jean-Luc Godard. His works were a great source of inspiration. It's a simple idea that art proposes a new way to see the world at every time and any context. It's easy to analyze a film from the narrative point of view or technical. Still, for me, the most urgent and necessary is to analyze what a film specifically produces and constructs.
For example, in his films, Jean-Luc Godard invents a way to demonstrate what an image can be and can do. Once again, all his movies are reflection and creation explicitly structured by cinematic possibilities. Not by something that is, but by everything that could be. It is critical for his aesthetics because, in a sequence of any of his films, you can see, for example, that the sound is not used in a standard way. It is an exploration of many different relations between the sound and the image. All his films provide a range of solutions. That's why he sometimes is described as a filmmaker for filmmakers.

 

DB: What is your relationship with Portugal in terms of cinema?

NB: As I always say, the Portuguese and the Japanese cinema are the most fantastic cinema in the world. Speak in terms of national cinema, I'm not sure it's the best way to talk about cinema, still a traditional way. Portuguese cinema is absolutely amazing, and I think I know only 1% of what has to be understood. There are the "national monuments" Manuel de Oliveira or Pedro Costa. But many others who deserve to become as praised in the international scene, for example, Rui Simões and his masterpiece Bom Povo Português (1981). One of my most brilliant students, Mickaël Robert-Gonçalves, devoted his Ph.D. to the revolutionary Portuguese cinema. All the authors and films mentioned by him must become essential references for international film history. What really amazed me is that despite the difficult situation in Portugal in economics and especially in the cultural field, there is a great generation of filmmakers and visual artists. Also, in 2017 I had a privilege to work with João Tabarra during the preparation of his superb installation 4.56.20 in Vila do Conde. It was an installation dedicated to the film Numéro Deux (1975) by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the 16mm print trailer.
Numéro Deux investigates the relationship between cinema and video, between industrial and independent cinema, as well as it spoke about political cinema in the Eastern and Middle East world. João digitalized, restored, analyzed every frame of this trailer. That was not made by Jean-Luc Godard, but we don't know by whom – and then composed a monumental installation at the Solar Gallery. So, my program at Vila do Conde this year is a continuation of this collaboration with João Tabarra. It will be introduced by Caroline Maleville, a curator at the Cinémathèque française. She had the formidable work of finding his retrospective all copies of JLG's films. In particular, all of the trailers we are sure he created them himself, which was undoubtedly the most challenging task.

 

DB: I heard that you are engaged in the project dedicated to Jorge Amaro, aka Fitz, the Portuguese moderator at karagarga. Could you tell me more about this story?

NB: I never met Jorge Amara personally, but before the existence of Karagarga, we exchanged several emails. Jorge was like a navel of cinephilia. He did exactly what had to be done simultaneously, inventing a collaborative way of sharing rare images. I totally admire him. Through his emails, I felt that he is the most sensitive person, and I still would be happy to be a part of this project, though I don't know if it's still on.

 

DB: What is your opinion about the ethical issue of sharing films among the cinephiles and the existence of different pirate bays?

NB: It's a problem. As a curator who works directly with artists, who provide me copies or links to their films, I should keep this material confidential. Nevertheless, every image or movie should be shared for free; art must be freed from the industry. Though cinema was in a crisis since its beginnings, now we feel it more due to the pandemic. This situation became more evident, as filmmakers now can't really earn money with releases. We are witnessing live the rapid destruction of the First and Second cinemas (to use the distinctions made by Fernando Solanas & Octavio Getino in 1968). The First cinema (the industrial one) will always find the money somewhere, from the mafias or the banks – it's in a way the same. The Second one, authors cinema, needs to reinvent this structure. The Third, the cinema of guerrilla, is becoming a model to regain its freedom.

 

 

:::

 


Dasha Birukova (b. 1985 Russia) is a curator and writer based in Lisbon. She graduated from the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia, art history department and at the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK), Moscow, Russia, cinema history department. Her specialisms are experimental film, video and media art.
Birukova curated the “New Media” programme at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Moscow) and co-curated the Festival of Media Art “VideoFocus” organized by NCCA (2014 and 2015).
She was a co-curator of the exhibition “Error Message” that was part of the 4th Moscow International Biennale of Young Art, 2014.
In 2016, Birukova joined the team of the high-profile project “Geometry of Now” curated by British artist Mark Fell, organized by the VAC Foundation in Moscow.
In 2017, she curated the exhibition “Pink Flamingos” at the art space BLEEK in Belgium.
In 2018, Birukova was a lecturer at The Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia, Department of the art history and at the British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow, where she curated the exhibition «BRITANKA_coop: ritual», special project of 6th Biennale for Young Art, Winzavod, Moscow.