The Film Society of Lincoln Center will host The Female Gaze (July 26 – August 9), spotlighting the amazing work of such accomplished international female cinematographers as Agnès Godard, Natasha Braier, Kirsten Johnson, Joan Churchill, Maryse Alberti, Ellen Kuras, Babette Mangolte, and Rachel Morrison. Laura Mulvey’s landmark 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” suggested an imbalance of power in film dominated by the male gaze and heterosexual male pleasure; this series poses the question: is there such a thing as the “Female Gaze”?
This year, Morrison made history as the first woman nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar for Mudbound, a triumph that also underscored the troubling issue of gender inequality in the film industry. Few jobs on a movie set have been as historically closed to women as that of cinematographer—the persistence of the term “cameraman” says it all. Despite this lack of representation, trailblazing women have left their mark on the field through extraordinary artistry and profound vision. As seen through their eyes, films by directors like Claire Denis, Jacques Rivette, Chantal Akerman, Ryan Coogler, and Lucrecia Martel are immeasurably richer, deeper, and more wondrous.
The Female Gaze opens with a double feature of unforgettable collaborations between Agnès Godard and Claire Denis—from the sensual gaze on male bodies in Beau travail to that of familial love in 35 Shots of Rum—launching the series’ central dialogue with Godard in person. Then on July 28, cinematographers Natasha Braier, Ashley Connor, Agnès Godard, and Joan Churchill join Film Society audiences to discuss their careers, experiences in the film industry, and their interpretations of the Female Gaze in a free talk, sponsored by HBO®.
“We’re showcasing amazing cinematography in a variety of styles, from women who have worked with directors of all genders, and contemplating what a female gaze might mean,” said Florence Almozini, FSLC Associate Director of Programming. “Some have built long careers with their directors, such as Godard with Denis, while others like Alberti or Louvart have worked with a range of filmmakers from around the world. There’s also a distinctive emerging class of female DPs innovating in the field, and our series reveals how this ‘gaze’ evolves with each new partnership and generation.”
Featuring 36 films shot by 23 women, the program includes blockbusters (Creed), independent American fare (Swoon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), selections from the canon (Jeanne Dielman…), contemporary international arthouse titles (Tokyo Sonata, The Headless Woman, Holy Motors), rarities ripe for rediscovery (La Captive), and two sneak previews: The Miseducation of Cameron Post and I Think We’re Alone Now, both prizewinners at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The complete lineup is below, arranged by DP.
FILMS AND DESCRIPTIONS
All screenings held at the Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street) unless otherwise noted.
Ryan Coogler, USA, 2015, 133m
The legend of Rocky lives on as Michael B. Jordan’s gutsy Adonis Johnson—son of Apollo Creed—sets out to prove he’s got what it takes to be the next champ, leaving his luxe L.A. life behind to train in the hard-knock gyms of Philadelphia with the Italian Stallion himself. After the breakout success of Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler shows his facility for major budget spectacle, balancing a rousing underdog sports story with a poignant portrait of intergenerational friendship. The virtuoso lensing of Maryse Alberti astonishes in a dazzling four-and-a-half minute fight sequence that unfolds in one bruising, breathless take.
Todd Haynes, UK/USA, 1998, 35mm, 124m
The birth of Oscar Wilde; the staged death of a flamboyant rock star modeled closely after David Bowie; the delirious inebriation of London at the height of the glam era: Haynes’s discourse on celebrity culture is as sprawling and multi-tracked as his previous film, Safe, had been clinically restrained. Much of Velvet Goldmine, the story of a journalist who tries to reconstruct the sordid life story of the failed glam rock star he’d idolized as a young man, was shot in London, and the move gave Haynes a chance to abandon the cloister-like suburbs of his earlier films for a much more colorful, Dionysian milieu. Haynes and cinematographer Maryse Alberti crafted one of the most visually thrilling music movies of the 1990s. An NYFF36 Selection.
The Headless Woman / La mujer sin cabeza
Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/France/Italy/Spain, 2008, 35mm, 87m
Spanish with English subtitles
DP Barbara Alvarez imparts a restrained—and very strange—spatial texture to Lucrecia Martel’s excitingly splintered third feature, about a woman (a stunning María Onetto) in a state of phenomenological distress following a mysterious road accident. Martel’s rare gift for building social melodrama from sonic and spatial textures, behavioral nuances, and an unerringly brilliant sense of the joys, tensions, and endless reserves of suppressed emotion lurking within the familial structure is here pushed to another level of creative daring. An NYFF46 selection. 35mm print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan, 2008, 120m
Japanese with English subtitles
What strange deceptions lurk beneath the placid veneer of the average Japanese family? Horror maestro Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s unexpected—but wholly rewarding—foray into family melodrama-cum-black comedy quivers with an undercurrent of dread as salaryman dad (Teruyuki Kagawa) loses his job and desperately attempts to maintain the illusion that he’s still employed; his grade-school son (Kai Inowaki) rebels by secretly taking (gasp!) piano lessons; and mom (Kyōko Koizumi) finds what she’s been looking for with her own kidnapper. The elegant long shots of Akiko Ashizawa toy with the meticulous framings of Ozu as Kurosawa guides the film through a series of increasingly audacious tonal shifts. An NYFF46 selection.
The Romance of Astrea and Celadon / Les amours d’Astrée et de Céladon
Éric Rohmer, France, 2007, 35mm, 109m
At the age of 88, Éric Rohmer bid adieu to cinema with this enchanting mythological idyll, which brims with all the vitality and freshness of youth. Frequent Rohmer cinematographer Diane Baratier conjures a sun-dappled bucolic dream vision of fifth-century Gaul, where a beguiling fable of romantic misunderstanding plays out when a band of druids and nymphs intervene in the lovers’ quarrel between androgynously beautiful shepherd Celadon (Andy Gillet) and his jealous paramour Astrea (Stéphanie Crayencour). Introducing hitherto untapped themes of gender and sexual fluidity into his work, Rohmer crafts an exalted paean to love both spiritual and carnal. An NYFF45 selection.
Serge Bozon, France, 2007, 35mm, 102m
French with English subtitles
In the fall of 1917, as World War I rages, a lovelorn soldier’s wife (Sylvie Testud) disguises herself as a man and sets off for the front in search of her missing husband. Along the way, she meets up with a company of soldiers under the command of a gruff lieutenant (Pascal Greggory), who reluctantly allows Camille to join their ranks. From time to time, these surprisingly sensitive, introspective men break out an assortment of homemade instruments and perform original songs written for the film by Benjamin Esdraffo and the artist known as Fugu, styled after the American “sunshine pop” of The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas. Exquisitely shot by Céline Bozon (the director’s sister), this unclassifiable hybrid of war movie and movie musical is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
The Milk of Sorrow / La teta asustada
Claudia Llosa, Spain/Peru, 2009, 35mm, 94m
Spanish and Quechua with English subtitles
Fausta, the only daughter of an aged indigenous Peruvian mother, is said to have been nursed on “the milk of sorrow.” This accursed designation is bestowed on the children of victims of the former terrorist regime. Fausta has learned of her mother’s past and her own presupposed fate through invented song, which is both an art form and oral history tradition. Upon her mother’s death, she must venture beyond the safety of her uncle’s home and choose whether or not to lend her gift of song so that she can pay for a proper burial. Llosa and DP Natasha Braier capture the striking beauty of Lima’s outskirts, as well as a revelatory performance by Magaly Solier, with dignity and grace. Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. A New Directors/New Films 2009 selection.
The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark/France/USA/UK, 2016, 118m
Like a 21st-century Showgirls meets Suspiria, Nicolas Winding Refn’s delirious plunge into the fake plastic horror of the image-obsessed fashion industry trafficks in both high-camp excess and kaleidoscopically stylized splatter. Elle Fanning is the guileless recent L.A. transplant whose fresh-faced youth and beauty almost instantly land her a high-profile modeling contract. Whatever “it” is, she has it. And a coterie of monstrously jealous, flavor-of-last-month Hollyweird burnouts will stop at nothing to get it. Working in a supersaturated, electric day-glo palette, DP Natasha Braier fashions a sleek, freaky-seductive vision of L.A.’s dark side.
The Gang of Four / La bande des quatre
Jacques Rivette, France/Switzerland, 1989, 160m
French and Portuguese with English subtitles
Four women, a shadowy conspiracy, and a whole lot of acting exercises: we’re firmly in Rivette territory in one of the director’s most spellbinding explorations of the sometimes terrifyingly thin line between everyday life and the strangeness beneath it. A quartet of aspiring actresses live together while studying with a demanding coach (Bulle Ogier). As they rehearse Pierre Marivaux’s La Double inconstance, offstage drama creeps into their lives in the form of a menacing mystery man (Benoît Régent) with a sinister story to tell. Caroline Champetier’s moody lensing—muted reds, golds, and browns—creates the feeling of an all-enveloping universe operating according to its own paranoid logic.
Leos Carax, France, 2012, 116m
French and English with English subtitles
Cinematographers Caroline Champetier and Yves Cape both lensed this unclassifiable, expansive movie from Leos Carax about a man named Oscar (longtime collaborator Denis Lavant) who inhabits 11 different characters over the course of a single day. This shape-shifter is shuttled from appointment to appointment in Paris in a white-stretch limo driven by the soignée Edith Scob (Eyes Without a Face); not on the itinerary is an unplanned reunion with Kylie Minogue. To summarize the film any further would be to take away some of its magic; the most accurate précis comes from its own creator, who aptly described Holy Motors after its world premiere in Cannes as “a film about a man and the experience of being alive.” An NYFF50 selection.
Le Pont du Nord
Jacques Rivette, France, 1982, 129m
French with English subtitles
Paris becomes a labyrinthine life-size game board in one of the most elaborate of Jacques Rivette’s sprawling, down-the-rabbit-hole cine-puzzles. Bulle Ogier and her daughter Pascale star, respectively, as a hitchhiking ex-con and a leather-clad tough girl who meet by chance on the city streets, come into possession of a curious map, and find themselves caught in a sinister cobweb of underworld conspiracy. Shooting seemingly on the fly, almost documentary-style on the streets of Paris, cinematographers Caroline Champetier and William Lubtchansky telegraph a freewheeling, anything-goes sense of play, as well as a creeping surveillance paranoia. An NYFF19 selection. 4K restoration from the 16mm negative, supervised by Véronique Rivette and Caroline Champetier at Digimage Classic, with the help of the CNC.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Nick Broomfield & Joan Churchill, UK/USA, 2004, 93m
Just months after Monster made Aileen Wuornos a household name—and Charlize Theron an Oscar darling—documentarian Nick Broomfield and co-director/cinematographer Joan Churchill unleashed this riveting portrait of the real-life serial killer. Of the two films, it remains the more chilling experience, an unflinching face-to-face encounter with a deeply damaged soul who, as she prepares for her imminent execution, is at once eager to set the record straight, angrily defiant, and increasingly delusional. Daring to find the humanity in one of the most vilified criminals of the century, Broomfield and Churchill—whose camera remains ever-alert and skillfully unobtrusive—craft a haunting, complex look at a life gone wrong.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Desiree Akhavan, USA, 2018, 90m
Based on the celebrated novel by Emily M. Danforth, Desiree Akhavan’s second feature follows the titular character (Chloë Grace Moretz) in 1993 as she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after getting caught with another girl on prom night. In the face of intolerance and denial, Cameron meets a group of fellow sinners, including amputee stoner Jane (Sasha Lane) and her friend Adam (Forrest Goodluck), a Lakota Two-Spirit. Together, this group forms an unlikely family with a will to fight. Akhavan and DP Ashley Connor evoke the emotional layers of Danforth’s novel with an effortless yet considered attention to the spirit of the ’90s and the audacious, moving performances of the ensemble cast. A FilmRise release.
House of Tolerance / L’Apollonide: Souvenirs de la maison close
Bertrand Bonello, France, 2011, 35mm, 122m
French with English subtitles
“I could sleep for a thousand years,” drawls a 19th-century prostitute—paraphrasing Lou Reed—at the start of Bonello’s hushed, opium-soaked fever dream of life in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the century. House of Tolerance is, among other things, Bonello’s most gorgeous and complete application of musical techniques to film grammar, his most rigorous attempt to sculpt cinematic space, his most probing reflection on the origins of capitalist society, and his most sophisticated study of the movement of bodies under immense constraint. A shocking mutilation, a funeral staged to The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” a progression of ritualized, drugged assignations and encounters: Bonello and frequent collaborator Josée Deshaies capture it all with a mixture of casual detachment and needlepoint precision.
Céline Sciamma, France, 2011, 35mm, 82m
French with English subtitles
A sensitive, heartrending portrait of what it feels like to grow up different, Céline Sciamma’s beautifully observed coming-of-age tale aches tenderly with the tangled confusion of childhood. When ten-year-old Laure’s family moves to a new neighborhood during the summer, the gender-nonconforming preteen (played by the impressively naturalistic Zoé Héran) takes the opportunity to present as Mickäel to the neighborhood kids—testing the waters of a new identity that neither friends nor family quite understand. Sciamma’s warmly empathetic tone is perfectly complemented by the soft-lit impressionism of Crystel Fournier’s glowing cinematography. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Claire Denis, France, 1999, 35mm, 92m
French, Italian, and Russian with English subtitles
Denis’s loose retelling of Billy Budd, set among a troop of Foreign Legionnaires stationed in the Gulf of Djibouti, is one of her finest films, an elemental story of misplaced longing and frustrated desire. Beneath a scorching sun, shirtless young men exercise to the strains of Benjamin Britten, under the watchful eye of Denis Lavant’s stone-faced officer Galoup, their obsessively ritualized movements simmering with barely suppressed violence. When a handsome recruit wins the favor of the regiment’s commander, cracks start to appear in Galoup’s fragile composure. In the tense, tightly disciplined atmosphere of military life, Denis found an ideal outlet for two career-long concerns: the quiet agony of repressing one’s emotions and the terror of finally letting loose. An NYFF37 selection. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
35 Shots of Rum / 35 rhums
Claire Denis, France/Germany, 2008, 35mm, 100m
French and German with English subtitles
When is a rice cooker more than just a rice cooker? When it’s in the masterful hands of Claire Denis, who somehow transforms it into a moving metaphor for the evolving relationship between a Parisian train conductor (Alex Descas) and his devoted twenty-something daughter (Mati Diop) as he gently nudges her out of the nest and each tests the waters of new relationships. Warmed by the ember-glow of Agnès Godard’s beautifully burnished cinematography, Denis’s delicately bittersweet take on the Ozu-style family drama conveys worlds of meaning and emotion—attraction, heartache, loss, hope—in a mere glance, a gesture, and, yes, a kitchen appliance.
The Intruder / L’intrus
Claire Denis, France, 2005, 35mm, 130m
French, English, Korean, Russian, and Polynesian with English subtitles
Rich, strange, and tantalizingly enigmatic, Denis’s crypto-odyssey is a mesmeric sensory experience that haunts like a half-remembered dream. Inspired by a book by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, The Intruder skips across time and continents—from the Alpine wilds to a neon-lit Korea to a tropical Tahiti suffused with languorous melancholy—as it traces the journey of an inscrutable, ailing loner (Michel Subor) seeking a black market heart transplant and his long-lost son. An impressionist wash of hallucinations, memories, and dreams are borne along on the lush textures of Agnès Godard’s shimmering cinematography. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016, 102m
How much of one’s self can be captured in the images shot of and for others? Kirsten Johnson’s work as a director of photography and camera operator has helped earn her documentary collaborators (Laura Poitras, Michael Moore, Kirby Dick, Barbara Kopple) nearly every accolade and award possible. Recontextualizing the stunning images inside, around, and beyond the works she has shot, Johnson constructs a visceral and vibrant self-portrait of an artist who has traveled the globe, venturing into landscapes and lives that bear the scars of trauma both active and historic. Rigorous yet nimble in its ability to move from heartache to humor, Cameraperson provides an essential lens on the things that make us human. A 2016 New Directors/New Films selection.
Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering, USA, 2002, 35mm, 84m
Postmodern intellectual rockstar Jacques Derrida receives an appropriately self-reflexive portrait in this playful, probing documentary. Framed by the French philosopher’s statements about the inherent unreliability of biography, it finds co-director Amy Ziering attempting to tease out the links between Derrida’s radically influential thinking (he expounds on everything from forgiveness to Seinfeld) and his own life. Even as the alternately witty and reflective Derrida remains cagey about personal matters, Kirsten Johnson’s attentive camera captures revealing flashes of the man behind the ideas. What emerges is a fascinating interrogation of filmic truth: a documentary that relentlessly deconstructs itself.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry, USA, 2004, 35mm, 108m
The feverish imaginations of DIY surrealist Michel Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman kick into overdrive for the great gonzo sci-fi romance of the early 2000s. When nice guy dweeb Joel (Jim Carrey) encounters blue-haired spitfire Clementine (Kate Winslet) on the LIRR, there’s a spark of attraction, but also something familiar—almost as if they’ve met before… Cue a ping-ponging, time- and space-collapsing journey through memory and a star-crossed love gone sour. The high-contrast handheld camerawork of Ellen Kuras enhances the whiplash sense of disorientation in what is, ultimately, a heart-wounding parable about the ways in which we inevitably hurt those we love most.
Tom Kalin, USA, 1992, 35mm, 93m
One of the most daring works to emerge from the New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990s, Swoon offers a radical, revisionist perspective on the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case. Channeling the spirits of Dreyer, Bresson, and Jean Genet, director Tom Kalin challenges viewers to identify with two of the most notorious killers of the 20th century, their crime—the Nietzsche-influenced thrill killing of a schoolboy in 1920s Chicago—and punishment recounted in ghostly black and white by Ellen Kuras. Throughout, Kalin cannily deconstructs the ways in which Leopold and Loeb’s homosexuality has been historically sensationalized and demonized—a provocative analogy for queer persecution in the AIDS era.
Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium, 2000, 35mm, 118m
French with English subtitles
Chantal Akerman’s hypnotic exploration of erotic obsession plays like Vertigo filtered through the director’s visionary feminist formalism. Loosely inspired by the fifth volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, it circles around the very-strange-indeed relationship between the seemingly pliant Ariane (Sylvie Testud) and the disturbingly jealous Simon (Stanislas Merhar), whose need to possess her completely in turn renders him hostage to his own destructive desires. The coolly contemplative camera style of Sabine Lancelin imparts an unbroken, trance-like tension, which finds release only in the thunderous roil of the operatic score. Print courtesy of Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique.
The Strange Case of Angelica / O Estranho Caso de Angélica
Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal, 2010, 35mm, 97m
Manoel de Oliveira’s sly, metaphysical romance—made when the famously resilient director was a mere 102 years old—is a mesmerizing, beyond-the-grave rumination on love, mortality, and the power of images. On a rain-slicked night, village photographer Isaac (Ricardo Trêpa) is summoned by a wealthy family to take a picture of their beautiful, recently deceased daughter Angelica (Pilar López de Ayala). What ensues is a ghostly tale of romantic obsession as Isaac finds his dreams—and his photographs—haunted by the spirit of the bewitching young woman. The crisp chiaroscuro compositions of cinematographer Sabine Lancelin enhance the film’s otherworldly, unstuck-in-time aura. An NYFF48 selection.
Robin Campillo, France, 2013, 128m
French with English subtitles
Jeanne Lapoirie’s surveillance-style camera, looking from above, masterfully follows the men who loiter around the Gare du Nord train station in Paris as they scrape by however they can, forming gangs for support and protection, ever fearful of being caught by the police and deported. When the middle-aged, bourgeois Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) approaches a boyishly handsome Ukrainian who calls himself Marek for a date, he learns the young man is willing to do anything for some cash. What Daniel intends only as sex-for-hire begets a home invasion and then an unexpectedly profound relationship. The drastically different circumstances of the two men’s lives reveal hidden facets of the city they share. Presented in four parts, this absorbing, continually surprising film by Robin Campillo (BPM: Beats Per Minute) is centered around relationships that defy easy categorization, in which motivations and desires are poorly understood even by those to whom they belong.
Gus Van Sant, USA, 2007, 35mm, 85m
At once a dreamlike portrait of teen alienation and a boldly experimental work of film narrative, Paranoid Park finds Gus Van Sant at the height of his powers. A withdrawn high-school skateboarder (Gabe Nevins) struggles to make sense of his involvement in an accidental death. He recalls past events across tides of memory, and expresses his feelings in a diary—which is, in effect, the movie we are watching. The extraordinary skating scenes, filmed by cinematographers Rain Li and Christopher Doyle in a lyrical mixture of Super 8 and 35mm, depict their subjects soaring in space, momentarily free of the earthly troubles of adolescence. An NYFF45 selection.
Eliza Hittman, USA, 2017, 95m
Hittman follows up her acclaimed debut, It Felt Like Love, with this sensitive chronicle of sexual becoming. Frankie (a breakout Harris Dickinson), a bored teenager living in South Brooklyn, regularly haunts the Coney Island boardwalk with his boys—trying to score weed, flirting with girls, killing time. But he spends his late nights dipping his toes into the world of online cruising, connecting with older men and exploring the desires he harbors but doesn’t yet fully understand. Sensuously lensed on 16mm by cinematographer Hélène Louvart, Beach Rats presents a colorful and textured world roiling with secret appetites and youthful self-discovery. A 2017 New Directors/New Films selection. A Neon release.
Pina [in 3D]
Wim Wenders, Germany/France, 2011, 106m
German, English, and French with English subtitles
Wim Wenders began planning this project with legendary choreographer Pina Bausch in the months before her untimely death, selecting the pieces to be filmed and discussing the filmmaking strategy. Impressed by recent innovations in 3D, Wenders decided to experiment with the format for this tribute to Bausch and her Tanztheater Wuppertal; the result sets the standard against which all future uses of 3D to record performance will be measured. Not only are the beauty and sheer exhilaration of the dance s and dancers powerfully rendered by Hélène Louvart and Jörg Widmer’s lensing, but the film also captures the sense of the world that Bausch so brilliantly expressed in all her pieces. Longtime members of the Tanztheater recreate many of their original roles in such seminal works as “Café Müller,” “Le Sacre du Printemps,” and “Kontakthof.” An NYFF49 selection.
Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/Switzerland/Germany, 2014, 110m
French with English subtitles
Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, Alice Rohrwacher’s vivid story of teenage yearning and confusion revolves around a beekeeping family in rural central Italy: German-speaking father, Italian mother, four girls. Two unexpected arrivals prove disruptive, especially for the pensive oldest daughter, Gelsomina. The father takes in a troubled teenage boy as part of a welfare program, and a television crew shows up to enlist local farmers in a kitschy celebration of Etruscan culinary traditions (a slyly self-mocking Monica Bellucci plays the bewigged host). Hélène Louvart’s lensing combines a documentary attention to daily ritual with an evocative atmosphere of mystery to conjure a richly concrete world that is subject to the magical thinking of adolescence. An NYFF52 selection.
Around a Small Mountain / 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup
Jacques Rivette, France/Italy, 2009, 35mm, 84m
French with English subtitles
The final film from arch gamesman Jacques Rivette is a captivating variation on one of the themes that most obsessed him: the ineffable interplay between life and performance. Luminously photographed by Irina Lubtchansky in the open-air splendor of the south of France, it revolves around an Italian flaneur (Sergio Castellitto) who finds himself drawn into the world of a humble traveling circus led by the elusive Kate (Jane Birkin), whose enigmatic past becomes a tantalizing mystery he is determined to solve. In a career studded with sprawling shaggy dog epics, Rivette’s swan song is a deceptively slight grace note that contains multitudes. An NYFF47 selection.
Sarah Winchester, Ghost Opera / Sarah Winchester, Opera Fantôme
Bertrand Bonello, France, 2016, 24m
North American Premiere
A film to stand in for an opera unmade: Bonello’s moody, baroque meditation on the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune plays like a ballet-cum-horror film, an ornate tapestry of enigmatic images, chilling synths, and traces of a tragic and eccentric life. An NYFF54 selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
The Camera: Je or La Camera: I
Babette Mangolte, USA, 1977, 88m
Though perhaps best known as the cinematographer for Chantal Akerman’s groundbreaking 1970s work—as well as for her collaborations with avant-garde icons like Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, and Marina Abramović—Babette Mangolte is a singular cinematic visionary in her own right. In this structuralist auto-portrait, Mangolte allows viewers to peer through the lens of her camera as she produces a series of still photographs, first of models, then of the streetscapes of downtown Manhattan. As we experience the act of image-making through her eyes, what emerges is a heady consideration of the art and act of seeing and of the complex relationship between photographer, subject, and viewer.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France, 1976, 35mm, 201m
French with English subtitles
A landmark of feminist art, Chantal Akerman’s minimalist masterpiece is both a monumental and microscopic view of three days in the life of a fastidious Belgian single mother (a sphinx-like Delphine Seyrig) as she goes about her housework, peeling potatoes and washing dishes with the same clinical detachment with which she makes love to the occasional john. And then slowly, almost imperceptibly, things begin to go awry… The rigorous, relentlessly impassive gaze of Babette Mangolte’s camera is transfixing but, in the words of the director, “never voyeuristic”; it’s a uniquely feminine way of seeing made manifest by one of the most sui generis filmmaker-cinematographer partnerships in history.
Stranger by the Lake / L’inconnu du lac
Alain Guiraudie, France, 2013, 97m
French with English subtitles
Alain Guiraudie’s Cannes-awarded exploration of death and desire unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground that becomes a crime scene. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a regular at a lakeside pickup spot, where he finds companionship both platonic and carnal. But his new paramour Michel (Christophe Paou) turns out to be a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, in the deadliest sense… Guiraudie has long been a singular voice in French cinema: anti-bourgeois, at ease in nature, a true regionalist and outsider. Here he and DP Claire Mathon capture naked bodies and hardcore sex with the same matter-of-fact sensuousness they bring to ripples on the water and the fading light of dusk. An NYFF51 selection.
I Think We’re Alone Now
Reed Morano, USA, 2018, 93m
Pulling double duty as director and cinematographer, Reed Morano finds the melancholic beauty in the end of the world with this gorgeous and strange drama starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning as the last people on Earth. When the film opens in a desolate upstate New York, the misanthropic Del (Dinklage) is performing rote, custodial tasks to clean up the chaos left around his hometown—and relishing his newfound solitude—until another, sprightly survivor (Fanning) arrives. Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, I Think We’re Alone Now is a visually audacious entry in the postapocalyptic genre and an idiosyncratic take on loneliness and grief.
Ryan Coogler, USA, 2013, 85m
Coogler’s remarkable debut feature explores the life and harrowing death of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old African-American man killed by police in the early hours of January 1, 2009. Six months after sweeping both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Fruitvale Station opened on the same weekend that jurors in Florida acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. Rachel Morrison’s gripping, exploratory Super 16 on-location camerawork dramatizes the unseen complexities and personal relationships of Grant’s inner circle with a startling sense of urgency, emotion, and the unflagging awareness of a preventable tragedy too often seen in the news cycle.
Sunday, August 5, 7:00pm
Free Talk: The Female Gaze
Join us for an hour-long conversation with cinematographers Natasha Braier, Ashley Connor, Agnès Godard, and Joan Churchill as they discuss the series and reflect on their careers and influences, and how they approach their craft. Sponsored by HBO®.
Saturday, July 28, 6:30pm*
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Amphitheater, 144 W 65th Street