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The City of the Film-makers

The challenge of this exhibition is to illustrate how the work of a series of contemporary film-makers shows us the germ of some of the basic ideas about the space in which we now live or will in the future. Directors who are capable of creating forms of visual thought which are revealed to us as the bearers of new categories of city. We know that the reflection of film-makers and those who devote themselves to urban space now run closer together than ever. This dual body of reflection produces the proposals that form the leading thread of this exhibition, which speaks to us of space, memory, feelings, landscape, reconciliation, violence, new attitudes, saturated cities and deserts which are relieved by new inhabitants, and contemporary forms of the non-place. Here, it is the film-makers themselves who trace the line of what they see to be happening. It is presented to us in the form of their works, taken from the cinema and placed in an exhibition hall.

The exposition presents film footage along with models, drawings, sketches, storyboards, photographs, props, film books and other elements belonging to film-makers such as Nanni Moretti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, José Luis Guerin, Wim Wenders, Wong Kar-Wai, Wayne Wang, Kevin Smith, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Joel & Ethan Coen, Alexandre Sokurov, Sergey Dvortsevoy, Johan van der Keuken, David Lynch, Jafar Panahi, David Cronenberg, Chantal Akerman, Fernando León, Harmony Korine, Stephan and Timothy Quay, Bigas Luna, Jan Svankmajer, Larry Clark, Isabel Coixet, Terry Gilliam, Jim Jarmusch, Tom Jarmusch, Kristian Levring and Iván Zulueta.

1. The memory of the territory

Some spaces conserve the traces of sentiment which they witnessed in the past. On the site of these usually painful scars, new stories are lived. Evolving spaces, but spaces which need to be upheld in this memorial fragility as it registers new traces. This section also presents material by Pasolini himself, and by Wenders and Guerin.

2. Feelings in the saturated city

Some contemporary cities — most particularly Hong Kong — are narrated with innovative declensions by their portrayers. The ungraspable immensity of these full-to-the-brim metropolises is no obstacle to the production of stories of sentimental fragility. This brutal contrast between density and sentimental life is produced thanks to new forms of cinematographic calligraphy. The filmmaker who best explains this fact is probably Wong Kar-Wai. His passionate stories include the existence of this densely built-up city as an integral part.

3. Public places, private lives

Intimacy can occur in public places. A central category of the modernity which creates new spaces of sociability and puts an end to the identification of a public space as a necessarily open space.

One basic space in this new sensibility is the tobacconist’s store in the film Smoke by Wayne Wang. More extreme are the films of Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats) which are always set in the bustling spaces of commercial premises, such as department stores or video hire shops.

4. The desire for landscape

There are filmmakers who have established a reconciliation with the landscape, autonomous places with a logic which man cannot always control, in the face of which each (humankind and nature) establishes certain forms of harmony. Most of Abbas Kiarostami’s films centre around this kind of reconciliation, in which the extreme harshness of the landscape and of those who inhabit it are fused into a gaze which is, somehow, celebratory. Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us represent this principle.

5. The drama at the end of the world

One of the characteristics of some contemporary film-makers is their capacity to exacerbate a sense of melodrama by using principles which might seem antagonistic, such as quietude, of impulse in the form of filming, of the ability to create a new form of sentimental pace based on the speeding up of events which lead to an unimaginable frenzy.

6. The spaces of mental disorder

There are interiors which manage to obliquely convey the mental disorder of the characters who inhabit them. In this way, the concept of the disturbing atmosphere has slipped into spaces with a decor that moves between delirium and false restraint. These are spaces inhabited by tortured minds. David Lynch is a specialist in this field, which also includes works by Cronemberg, Bigas Luna, Zulueta and the Quay brothers.

7. Violence under the surface

In this space, the violence is passed on from the people to the spaces. We will attempt to show how this unexpected explosion produces an internal rhythm which does not need a seething, violent city to allow us to feel this latent violence, under the surface, waiting to flash out at us.

8. The ghetto

Some films reflect autonomous spaces with no centre. Spaces with laws of their own, with invisible networks connecting their inhabitants. Los Angeles is a paradigm city, a construct of the sum of many independent and dramatically different communities. Chance and accidents create interactions between these communities. Works by Van der Keuken, Robert Altman, Larry Clarke and Fernando León.

9. Flows

Movement offers knowledge. The spaces of flow suggest contrast and the film-maker’s desire to set out on a quest is manifested in the construction of this itinerary based on the prominence of the self. Here we present an adaptation of Chantal Akerman’s now classic work, D’Est au Sud, a video installation which perfectly sums up the involvement of the film-maker in the realities she chooses to describe.

10. Architectures of fear

There are still cities which seem to have remained untouched by the passing of time. But these cities are not ingenuous. They start out from an aesthetic of stability and end up becoming metaphors for a caesura of contemporaneity. This is the case of the dual village of Edward Scissorhands, with its brightly-painted petit bourgeois homes and the gothic mansion where the different being lives. This duality and the peaceful passage of the set-apart hero through a still-defensive society produce one of the nineties’ loveliest parables against xenophobia. A model will reconstruct some of the cities of films such as Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attack, Matrix, etc.

11. The desire to create

This section includes the simultaneous projection of various films starring film directors at work on set, in a desire to summaries the entire exhibition and show how the cinema itself becomes a visual motif, iconography.

12. Epiphanies

By way of an epilogue, there will be the showing of a montage by Marc Recha of horizontal lines and other landscape figures, with shots which expand in time to fade into other, very similar ones taken from a variety of films. Minimal variations on these horizontal epiphanies, not necessarily optimistic, highlighted by the change in the soundtrack.

Related contents

Report "The City of the Film-makers"

The exhibition "The City of Film-makers" uses fifteen thematic sections to reveal the viewpoints of film-makers and the metamorphoses which the city has undergone as a result of being interpreted by the cinema.

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