Film at Lincoln Center announced the lineup of 17 features and four shorts for the ninth edition of Art of the Real, the showcase for the world’s most vital and innovative voices in nonfiction and hybrid filmmaking, taking place March 31–April 7.
Highlights include opening night selection My Two Voices, director Lina Rodriguez’s portrait of three women sharing their stories of transit between Colombia, Mexico, and Canada, told through gestures of intimacy and abstraction; filmmakers Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner’s Beatrix, a meditation on boredom and solitude; Come Here, Anocha Suwichakornpong’s restaging and reformatting of the past that follows four young actors on a trip to the site of the infamous Death Railway, built by local workers and Allied prisoners of war; Zhengfan Yang’s Footnote, an oblique chronicle of America’s tumultuous recent years; Dane Komljen’s Afterwater, which follows three trios of characters as they traverse three bodies of water in three time periods; Jonathan Perel’s Camouflage, which follows a writer on his daily runs through and around the ruins of Buenos Aires’s infamous military base Campo de Mayo; Jacquelyn Mills’s Geographies of Solitude, a portrait of conservationist Zoe Lucas and a multiple prizewinner at the recent Berlinale; Sharlene Bamboat’s If from Every Tongue It Drips, which explores questions of distance and proximity through scenes from the daily interactions between two Sri Lankan women; A Marble Travelogue by Sean Wang, tracing the strange and circuitous route of white marble quarried in Greece; David Easteal’s remarkable debut feature, The Plains, a three-hour journey seen from the backseat of a car driven by a middle-aged man on his daily commute over the course of a year; Jorge Jácome’s multi-sensory, multimedia collage Super Natural, which carries viewers from life’s liquid beginnings through multiple cycles of sleep and interspecies encounters; This House, Miryam Charles’s inquiry into the unexplained death of a 14-year-old girl in 2008; The Veteran, Jerónimo Rodríguez’s tracing of two friends’ journey together across Chile to New York and Iowa to research an urban legend about an American priest; and When There Is No More Music to Write, and Other Roman Stories, Éric Baudelaire’s triptych of stories reconstructing the volatile period of radical struggle in the 1960s and 1970s in Italy and the United States.
This year’s series also features a special section of selected works by Alice Diop, whose films capture the quotidian struggles of Black and immigrant communities in contemporary France. One of the most exciting documentarians working today, Diop will be in person for Q&As following her films, with such titles as her debut feature, The Death of Danton, about a 25-year-old Black man from the Paris suburbs who seeks to escape violence; On Call, Alice’s second feature, a powerful work of latter-day cinema vérité that chronicles the operations of a refugee medical clinic just outside Paris; and We, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the Parisian suburbs that was a highlight of last year’s New Directors/New Films festival.
This year’s shorts selections are Train Again, Peter Tscherkassky’s propulsive investigation of the twinned histories of cinema and trains; Maria Rojas Arias’s Abrir Monte, which combines archival footage and personal recollections to revisit the small town in the northwest of Colombia where the filmmaker’s grandmother was born and raised; and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s The Crow, the Trench and the Mare, which draws from methods of simultaneous narration from Sanskrit poetry.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screen at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65th St.).
My Two Voices
English and Spanish with English subtitles
Lina Rodriguez, Canada, 2022, 68m
Director Lina Rodriguez radically upends the conventions of the migration narrative in the deeply empathetic My Two Voices, rendering minute, close-up scenes of family life and domestic work in dense, sonic textures and the vivid colors of 16mm film. On the soundtrack, three women tell their stories of transit between Colombia, Mexico, and Canada in intimate voiceover: their reasons for migrating; the physical, linguistic, and institutional challenges they endured; and their aspirations for the future of their children and themselves.
Dane Komljen, Germany/South Korea/Spain/Serbia, 2022, 93m
English, Serbian and Spanish with English subtitles
Deliquescent colors and luscious soundscapes mark Dane Komljen’s Afterwater, which traverses three bodies of water, three time periods, and three moving-image formats: digital video, 16mm film, and videotape. In each, a new trio of characters is formed: bodies lost in densely verdant landscapes or adrift on the surfaces of lakes, slowly merging with the surrounding forests’ flora and fauna, as the outside world drifts further away.
Milena Czernovsky & Lilith Kraxner, Austria, 2021, 35mm, 95m
English and German with English subtitles
A young woman explores a suburban house alone, eating, watching television, rooting through cupboards, trying on clothes, feeding a stray cat. Through these mundane activities, shot on lush 16mm film, debut filmmakers Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner render Beatrix’s experience of boredom and solitude as achingly visceral—alternately, awkward, languorous, drained, and euphoric.
Jonathan Perel, Argentina, 2022, 93m
Spanish with English subtitles
Through a mix of staged and documentary scenes, Jonathan Perel’s Camouflage follows a writer on his daily runs through and around the ruins of Campo de Mayo, a large military base on Buenos Aires’s outskirts that was an infamous site of detentions, torture, and disappearances during Argentina’s Dirty War. In a series of encounters with nearby residences, he asks: what is to be done with the remnants of this site of so many traumas, which still haunt the daily lives of those who live next door?
Anocha Suwichakornpong, Thailand, 2021, 69m
Thai with English subtitles
The continual restaging and reformatting of the past is the theme of Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Come Here, which follows four young actors on an oneiric trip to Kanchanaburi in the west of Thailand to the site of the infamous Death Railway, built by conscripted local workers and Allied prisoners of war during World War II. As their journey goes mysteriously awry, a woman alone in the jungle suddenly changes form, and history folds back onto the present.
Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2021, 35mm, 20m
Found footage filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky returns with a propulsive investigation of the twinned histories of cinema and trains, splicing and superimposing historical images of locomotion in a collage of jarring mechanical and rhythmic power.
Zhengfan Yang, USA, 2022, 90m
A stark juxtaposition of boredom and violence, Zhengfan Yang’s film forms an oblique chronicle of America’s tumultuous recent years through two discordant mediums: scenes of daily life seen from his apartment window in Chicago, and the persistent chatter heard over the city’s police scanner. Via a series of jarring contrasts and disconnected events, Footnote hints at the intersection of the mundane, the absurd, and the tragic at both local and global levels, and indexes the obscured views and fragmented communications across the nation’s political landscape.
Geographies of Solitude
Jacquelyn Mills, Canada, 2022, 103m
Mixing vivid 16mm footage with hand-processed abstractions, Jacquelyn Mills’s film, a multiple prizewinner at the recent Berlinale, is a portrait of conservationist Zoe Lucas, one of the lone inhabitants of Sable Island, a 26-mile sandbar off the coast of Nova Scotia. An account of Lucas’s remarkable study of the island’s biodiversity, its fabled herds of wild horses, and the many ecological threats it faces, Geographies of Solitude is also a sensuous collaboration between filmmaker, subject, and the sparse, windswept terrain.
If from Every Tongue It Drips
Sharlene Bamboat, Canada/UK/Sri Lanka, 2021, 68m
English, Urdu, and Tamil with English subtitles
Sharlene Bamboat’s If from Every Tongue It Drips explores questions of distance and proximity, identity and otherness, through scenes from the daily interactions between two Sri Lankan women—a poet and a cameraperson. Connected through languages, personal and national histories, music and dance, and the gaze of the camera lens, they explore subjects both expansively cosmic and intimately close—from quantum superposition to the links between British colonialism and Indian nationalism.
The Crow, the Trench and the Mare
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Puerto Rico, 2021, 16m
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s work of radical juxtaposition draws on methods of simultaneous narration from Sanskrit poetry to explore image and sound relations and the duality of bodies, objects, and places.
A Marble Travelogue
Sean Wang, Netherlands/Hong Kong/Greece/France, 2021, 97m
English, Chinese, French, and Greek with English subtitles
A Marble Travelogue brings the postmodern ironies of global supply chains and the marketing of culture into focus, tracing the journey of blocks of white marble quarried in Greece and shipped to China to be made into souvenirs, which are in turn returned to Europe to be sold to Chinese tourists. Director Sean Wang illuminates the complexities of export, manufacture, and consumerism through a series of encounters with individuals along this strange and circuitous route.
David Easteal, Australia, 2022, 180m
David Easteal’s remarkable debut feature takes the viewer on a three-hour journey from a single perspective: that of a camera fixed in the backseat of a car, riding along with a middle-aged man on his evening commutes home from work through suburban Melbourne over the course of a year. The result is a surprising and transformative road movie: an exploration of an individual’s memories, relationships, and frustrations; a dryly comic juxtaposition between the tiny microcosm of the car and the world beyond; and a deep exploration of time’s rhythms.
Jorge Jácome, Portugal, 2022, 85m
Portuguese with English subtitles
“Hug me, baby. Give me a hug, and don’t let me fall.” Washing color fields and glitching alien voices call us into Jorge Jácome’s lush cinematic ecosystem, carrying us from life’s liquid beginnings through multiple cycles of sleep, interspecies encounters, and media formats. Part multi-sensory collage, part guided meditation, Super Natural engages the physicality of its performers and its audience alike, transforming the subtropical Madeira islands into a primordial soup of forms: bodies in contact, bodies dissolving into landscapes, bodies full of bodies that are full of other bodies.
Miryam Charles, Canada, 2022, 75m
Haitian and French with English subtitles
Through staged tableaux, lyrical voiceover, and vivid 16mm cinematography, This House narrates the events around the unexplained death of a 14-year-old girl in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2008. Collaborating with the teenager’s cousin, director Miryam Charles bridges locations—Haiti, Canada, the U.S.—and temporalities, proposing impossible narratives and alternate timelines: of migrations and homecomings, tragedy and the process of overcoming it.
Jerónimo Rodríguez, Chile, 2022, 101m
Spanish with English subtitles
Tracing a wayward journey across Chile to New York and Iowa and back again, two friends attempt to research an urban legend about an American priest who, after dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, emigrated to South America. Through wry, circuitous voiceover and depopulated images of urban space, The Veteran weaves a maze-like account, staging a set of comic encounters between stories and places, between landscapes and the ideas we impose upon them.
When There Is No More Music to Write, and Other Roman Stories
Éric Baudelaire, France, 2022, 60m
Inspired by a set of improvisations by the American composer and sound artist Alvin Curran, Éric Baudelaire’s triptych of stories reconstructs the volatile period of radical struggle in the 1960s and 1970s in Italy and the United States. From accounts of the violent streets of Rome during Italy’s Years of Lead to Antonioni’s images of the California Desert to Curran’s own recollections of his life and career in Italy beginning in the mid-1960s, the film collages archival fragments, found images, and Curran’s own Super 8 footage to situate the artist’s process amid the chaos of history as an act of radical struggle.
Maria Rojas Arias, Colombia/Portugal, 2021, 26m
Maria Rojas Arias’s film combines archival footage and personal recollections to revisit the small town in the northwest of Colombia where her grandmother was born and raised, and which was the site of a day-long attempted revolution carried out by a group of shoemakers known as Los Bolcheviques del Líbano Tolim.
Among the most exciting documentarians working today, Alice Diop captures the quotidian struggles of Black and immigrant communities in contemporary France with sociological precision and profound empathy. In her films, the Paris suburbs emerge as home to a wide array of people leading their lives while dreaming of better ones, raising vital questions about the visibility of the banlieue and its inhabitants in cinema and society alike. At once intimate and grandly political, Diop’s work seeks to include the excluded and to preserve their memories, experiences, and living/working conditions, effectively laying the groundwork for a more truthful history of present-day France.
The Death of Danton / La mort de Danton
Alice Diop, France, 2011, 64m
French with English subtitles
Diop’s first feature follows Steve, a 25-year-old Black man from the Paris suburbs who seeks to escape the violence of his immediate surrounding by training to become an actor at Cours Simon, one of France’s most prestigious drama schools, and dreams of playing the role of Danton in the Georg Buchner play of the title. But he soon discovers that the theater world is largely interested in having him inhabit only “Black” roles, placing Steve in a kind of purgatory: unable to return to the life he left behind, frustrated by the options available to him within the life he wishes to lead.
Alice Diop, France, 2016, 38m
French with English subtitles
Four young men from the Paris suburbs talk to Diop about their own masculinity—both their macho facades and the fundamental desire for love that their posturing seeks to occlude.
On Call / La Permanence
Alice Diop, France, 2016, 96m
French with English subtitles
A powerful work of latter-day cinema vérité, Alice Diop’s second feature chronicles the operations of a refugee medical clinic at the Avicenne Hospital just outside Paris. Migrants file in and out of a single room at the hospital, where their injuries—to body and mind alike—are evaluated by a single general practitioner and a single psychiatrist. On Call deliberately confines itself to the setting of the medical center and presents the suffering and day-to-day precarity of the migrants with an empathetic directness that both calls into question the adequacy of medical and social services available to refugees and conjures the struggles of their lives outside of the clinic.
We / Nous
Alice Diop, France, 2020, 115m
French with English subtitles
In this nuanced, sophisticated, and wonderfully engaging documentary, filmmaker Alice Diop creates a kaleidoscopic portrait of people from largely Black and immigrant communities in the Parisian suburbs, their lives and work connected by the RER B commuter train that cuts through the city from north to south. Her subjects include a migrant from Mali working as a mechanic; her own sister, a community care worker making house calls to the elderly; the writer Pierre Bergounioux, expounding upon centuries of French history and inequity; and an energetic variety of young people enjoying coveted leisure time in their own corners of the banlieues. Appearing on screen—and therefore making herself part of the “we” of the title—Diop says that in her filmmaking she aims to “conserve the existence of ordinary lives.” Her film is not just a work of conservation, but also of intellectual rigor, and of love. A MUBI release.