City of Pirates
The first film of the year is a chance for us to return to one of our favorite relationships in cinema––that of illusion and reality. Last January, we looked at Adam Curtis' seminal documentary Hypernormalisation and filmfront's very first program focused on expanding notions of fiction and nonfiction. Now, we want to consider film narrative and what it can mean to embrace or reject it along these lines.
Chilean-born filmmaker Raúl Ruiz exiled to France and delivered one of the most prolific bodies of work in cinema's history. Film itself is a fragmented form for Ruiz who chose to work on multiple projects simultaneously, often unscripted, making his films refuse any easy narrative comprehension. City of Pirates is an example of just this method; in it, he prefers a dizzying, labyrinthine structure, an exquisite clamor of fragments chronicling the fantastical relationship between three main players––Malo, a bloodthirsty young boy; the multiple identities of Toby, the lone inhabitant of a seaside castle; and Isidore, whose recurrent trances bring her into their lives. It's a mystery (as well as a fantasy-horror-romance-adventure) that was never meant to be solved.
"I think that what matters for Ruiz is the beautiful blurrings of sense that his story creates. Each image is the product of so many different associations and connections that it becomes, in a way, unmoored. The overburdened images overwhelm their referents and float free. Losing their centeredness, their core of meaning, the images are liberated from the system of language; they no longer occupy fixed positions in a hierarchy of meaning, but are free to signify everything and nothing." - Dave Kehr's When Movies Mattered
CITY OF PIRATES
by Raúl Ruiz
1983, digital projection, 111 min
"The images worked tirelessly. Every turn of the Geneva Drive gave another one of them full exposure––1/24 of a second in the limelight. After that brief translucent moment they went back onto the scroll, waiting for the next screening. A handful more, and they wandered into the archives where they were forgotten. Patiently they waited, and indeed, one day they were pulled off the shelf again, to be digitized, painfully compressed and formatted, covered in gooey codecs that altered not only their quality, but their personality, too. The images dissolved into streams and were in circulation once more. That's when I found them. I downloaded the streams as individual clips and dragged those into an intricate landscape of folders and sub-folders, just to drop and discard. Almost, that is. Now, it's time to give all these clips of men on the run, climbing comedians, editing filmmakers, marching masses, improved, reversed, and doubled motion the attention they deserve.
An evening with the forgotten film clips on my harddrive and the equally forgotten histories of labor, strike, and struggle they can tell." - Till Wittwer
Till Wittwer is an artist, writer, and researcher. He creates research-based narratives which he often presents as speculative propositions to act upon. They come in the form of essays, publications, lectures, and performances. He organizes initiatives to implement these propositions as well as platforms for critical exchange and learning. Till lives and works in Berlin.
Forgotten Clips is a presentation with digital projection expected to last about an hour.