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Celebrating Film As Art In Wroclaw

The ERA New Horizons International Film Festival has a reverence for “film as art”. This is indeed the focus of the FILMS ABOUT ART International Competition, which will present 14 feature documentaries from around the world. An international jury will award a prize of 10,000 euros, with a guarantee of distribution in Poland.

Peter Greenaway, who will be at the Festival tomorrow to deliver a lecture on film and art, will present his latest film REMBRANDT’S J’ACCUSE, which uses the famed Dutch artist’s classic Nightwatch painting as a touchstone for an essay on aesthetics and contemporary culture. Another film veteran, the French “new wave” filmmaker Agnes Varda, who will also be in Wroclaw next week, will present her autobiographical collage THE BEACHES OF AGNES, a heady mix of film clips, surreal pastiches and a glowing memoir of a life gracefully lived.

Also from France comes BOUZKACHI from director Jacques Debs. The film contrasts a bloody sporting ritual practiced on the steppes of Kazakhstan with a lyrical love fable inspired by the 14th-century Persian poet Hafez. One of France’s most successful directors, Olivier Assayas, offers a unique vision of contemporary ballet in ELDORADO, which documents the collaboration of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and Albanian choreographer Angelin Preljocaj.

Music is also the focus of ELEGY OF LIFE: ROSTROPOVICH, VISHNEYSKAYAUKOROW, which chronicles the creative marriage of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and singer Galina Vishnevskayaukorow. Another creative partnership is examined in RERBERG AND TARKOVSKY: THE REVERSE SIDE OF STALKER which highlights the famed Russian director and his cinematographer collaborator. In Polish directors Grzegorz Artman and Armand Urbaniak’s VILLA DEI MISTERII, an experimental theater piece illuminates a hommage to famous Polish icon painter Jerzy Nowosielski.

An appreciation of modern Austrian architecture, from the most humble to the most grand, is the subject of SENSE OF ARCHITECTURE by Heinz Emigholz. American director Jim Finn turns his camera onto the closed society of North Korea in THE JUCHE, to examine how “hero worship” of that country’s supreme leader has created its own artistic genre.

Seeing art in everyday life is the loose theme of the remaining films in the Competition program. In CASTING A GLANCE, American film essayist James Benning finds beauty in the stark “earth sculptures” of 1970s artist Robert Smithson. DOUBLE TAKE by Belgian director Johan Grimonprez muses on cinematic trickery, telling a Hitchcock tale without Hitchcock. In FLICKER, Canadian director Nik Sheehan tells the untold story of an inventor who creates a machine designed to stimulate the artistic senses. Film is art, art is film and both are being celebrated here in Wroclaw.

by Sandy Mandelberger, Online Dailies Editor

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