Films byTexts by Stoffel Debuysere

Stoffel Debuysere (1975) is a Belgian researcher and curator active in the fields of cinema and audiovisual arts. Based in Brussels, he has organized numerous film programmes, lectures, performances, and exhibitions in collaboration with a variety of cultural organizations and institutions. He is head programmer for Courtisane, a platform for film and audiovisual arts, and a lecturer in Film Critical Studies at the School of Arts in Ghent, where he has recently obtained a PhD with his research project Figures of Dissent. Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema.

Article EN
2.06.2021

In order to get at how I think about making a movie at a low budget, I have to be able to give you the theory, the narrative theory, that supports my reasons for making movies. If any of you have seen my work, you know I’m only interested in telling stories, and most of those stories are fairly contemporary. And to some degree they are ahistorical, meaning, though I think that is going to change, that the focus of the work is entirely narrative in orientation.

DOSSIER EN
19.05.2021

Selma Baccar was born in Tunis in 1945. At the age of 21, she began to create films with other women at the Hammam-Lif amateur film club. Her first short film, made in 1966, was a black-and-white film called The Awakening that tackled women’s emancipation in Tunisia. She moved to Paris to study film at the Institut de Formation Cinématographique (IFC), after which she worked as assistant director for Tunisian television. In 1975, Baccar directed her first feature film titled Fatma 75, which is considered to be the first feature film directed by a woman in Tunisia. In this “analytical film”, as Baccar has defined it, three generations of women and three forms of awareness are related — the period between 1930 and 1938 and the creation of the Union of Tunisian Women; the period between 1939 and 1952, which marks the relationship between the national struggle for independence and the women’s struggle; and finally, the period after 1956 to the present, concerning the achievements of Tunisian women with regards to the Code of Personal Status. Baccar’s activism for Tunisian women’s rights led her to an active political career.

DOSSIER EN
28.04.2021

Born in 1945 in Beirut, Heiny Srour studied Sociology in Beirut and went on to study Social Anthropology at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1969, while pursuing a PhD on the status of Lebanese and Arab women and working as a journalist for AfricAsia magazine, she discovered the struggle of the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf. Determined to make a film about this feminist movement, she spent two years doing intensive research and finding the necessary funds before setting out to Dhofar. The Hour of Liberation was completed in 1974 and selected at Cannes Film Festival, making Srour the first woman from the Third World to be selected at the prestigious international festival. In her next film, Leila and the Wolves (1984), she unveiled the hidden histories of women in struggle, in particular in Palestine and Lebanon, by weaving an aesthetically and politically ambitious tableau of history, folklore, myth and archival footage. Since initiating a feminist study group in Lebanon in the early 1960s, Srour has been vocal about the position of women, in particular in Arab societies, to this day.

Article EN
28.04.2021

Once again, the guerrillas did not tell me about the difficulties of the coming ordeal. This strategy increasingly infuriates me. It’s secrecy plain and simple. Yet an intellectual had warned me: “They say it’s a two-hour walk. It takes me five or six hours.” Yet the Yemeni cameraman exclaims when they go to fetch us water: “But these men are like goats. They don’t walk. They are jumping on the rocks.” I still get angry when their “few hours of walking” become ten or fourteen.

DOSSIER EN
7.04.2021

Jocelyne Saab (1948-2019) was born and raised in Beirut. After completing her studies in economic sciences at the Sorbonne in Paris, Saab was invited by poet and artist Etel Adnan to work as a journalist. War came to Saab’s native Lebanon in 1975, and that same year saw the beginning of Saab’s filmmaking career with Lebanon in a Whirlwind, an account of the various forces and interests behind the incipient conflict. The war would last another 15 years, and Saab’s chronicling of its horrors — particularly in her remarkable “Beirut Trilogy” — is unequalled in both its ethical integrity and emotional impact. In 1985 she directed her first fictional work, A Suspended Life (1985), set in the same war-torn Beirut she had documented ten years prior. After the war reconfigured the whole country, in Once Upon a Time in Beirut (1994), Saab tried to rescue the cinematographic memory of the Lebanese capital in the same year that cinema turned 100 years old. Until her death in January 2019, Jocelyne Saab remained devoted to what she called her “two permanent obsessions: liberty and memory”.

DOSSIER EN
31.03.2021

Atteyat Al-Abnoudy (1939-2018) was born into a family of labourers in a small village along the Nile Delta. A child of Nasserism, she studied law at the University of Cairo while supporting herself financially by working as an actress and assistant director at the theatre. At the beginning of the 1970s, she decided to study film at the Cairo Higher Institute of Cinema, where she created Horse of Mud, which was not only her first film but also Egypt’s first documentary produced by a woman. Her graceful focus on the disadvantaged and the unrepresented in Egyptian society would earn her the nickname “the poor people’s filmmaker”, but it also enkindled a confrontation with censorship. Despite its limited circulation, Horse of Mud went on to win numerous international prizes, after which Al-Abnoudy made her graduation film, The Sad Song of Touha, a portrait of Cairo’s street entertainers — which she created in collaboration with her husband, poet and song- writer Abdel Rahman Al-Abnoudy. She continued her studies at the International Film and Television School in London until 1976 and persisted to document the daily lives and struggles of economically and socially marginalized groups in Egypt, while exposing the structural inequalities within the socio-economic system.

DOSSIER EN
31.03.2021

Although there has been a notable rise of Arab female film directors in recent decades, the work of many pioneers tends to remain painfully neglected. The Out of the Shadows film programme, originally conceived for the Courtisane festival 2020 in Ghent, was intended to address this obscurity and revitalize the work of a diversity of filmmakers whose films remain overlooked and barely screened. Five of these filmmakers are presented in this Dossier: Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, Selma Baccar, Assia Djebar, Jocelyne Saab and Heiny Srour. In the words of Assia Djebar: “All of us, all of us who come from the world of women in the shadows, are reversing the process: at last it is we who are looking, we who are making a beginning. ”

DOSSIER
31.03.2021

Assia Djebar (1936-2015) was the first Algerian woman to attend the École normale supérieure de jeunes filles outside Paris. Between the ages of twenty and thirty, she wrote four novels. But in the mid-1960s, she decided to abandon writing in French, the language of Algeria’s colonizer. Cinema offered her new ways to approach language as well as the world of the women in her home region. To film The Nouba of the Women of Mount Chenoua in 1975-77, Djebar went back to the mountain of Chenoua in order to listen and give voice to the oral histories as transmitted by otherwise silenced women. In 1980, she resumed her career as a writer with Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, a collection of stories expressing Algeria’s collective memory through polyphonic narratives by female voices. For her final film, The Zerda or the Songs of Oblivion (1978-1982), she spent two years sifting through archival footage shot by French colonizers in the first half of the twentieth century, weaving it into an alternative vision of the history of the Maghreb. As Djebar grew to be one of the most important figures in North African literature, she continued to raise the issue of women’s language and the circulation of women’s voices, all the while developing what she has termed her “own kind of feminism.”

DOSSIER EN
17.02.2021

Farrebique ou les quatre saisons (1946), the first full-length film by Georges Rouquier, depicts the everyday life of a family of French farmers in the postwar period following the rhythm of the different seasons, evading the classic division between fiction and documentary, allowing the reality of details to thrive with a great sense of poetry. The controversy around the film brought into sharp focus the limitations and paradoxes of some of the denominators that have been used ad nauseam to divide and evaluate the cinematic landscape: documentary and fiction, authenticity and duplicity, asceticism and artfulness. This Dossier, comprising a long interview with Rouquier, a reflection on the polemic at the time, and texts by André Bazin, Jean Painlevé, Georges Sadoul and James Agee, presents a portrait of the “case of Farrebique”.

DOSSIER EN
20.01.2021

Al-mummia [The Mummy] (1969) is the only full-length film by the Egyptian screenwriter, costume and set designer, and filmmaker Shadi Abdel Salam (1930-1986), which is also known by its alternative English title The Night of Counting the Years. Finding inspiration in a historical event that took place in 1881, on the eve of British colonial rule, when it was brought to light that a tribe had been secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes, the filmmaker rigorously crafted a haunting meditation on identity, loss and legacy. This small dossier brings together a selection of conversations with and writings on Abdel Salam, as well as the complete screenplay of Al-mummia and some of the drawings that he sketched in preparation for the film.

Article NL
16.12.2020

In Lovers Rock (2020), McQueens zelfverklaarde “musical” gebaseerd op zijn jeugdherinneringen aan Londense “blues parties”, neemt de roep van de vervoering de allure aan van een hymne. Wanneer, op de wulpse tonen van Janet Kays Silly Games, lichamen zich gracieus in beweging zetten en elkaar aftastend beroeren, vult de ruimte zich met een peilloze hunkering. Maar als de muziek zachtjes wegdeemstert en een woordeloos akkoord wordt gesloten om dat gevoel collectief verder te zetten, wordt het lied a cappella opnieuw ingezet: “I’ve been wanting you / For so long, it’s a shame / Oh, baby.”

DOSSIER EN
6.05.2020

This Dossier aims to trace the development of Hong Sang-soo’s remarkable body of work through a collection of essays and interviews that were written and published between 2003 and 2018. Assembled here for the first time, they give an enlightening insight into his cinematic universe, which keeps expanding as a variety of variations on an aphorism that he himself has sketched out in one of his drawings: infinite worlds are possible.

DOSSIER EN
29.05.2019

At the turn of this century, the Chinese documentary maker Wang Bing entered film history when he boarded a freight train with a small rented DV camera and started filming the industrial district of Tiexi in northeastern China. This Dossier aims to trace Wang Bing’s trajectory by way of a series of writings and interviews, published between 2009 and 2018, accompanying the ongoing ventures of a filmmaker who has taken on the invaluable task of weaving a map of this other China, to film the trials and tribulations of a land in flux.

Conversation NL EN
9.01.2019

Fictie is overal. De vraag is: waar situeren we het beginpunt van fictie? Welke schikking zorgt ervoor dat er iets gebeurt? In zekere zin kunnen we zeggen dat er sprake is van fictie zodra een soort narratief ons vertelt of laat zien dat er iets gebeurt. Daarom ben ik in mijn recente werk vooral geïnteresseerd in het verkennen van de grenzen van fictie, de grens tussen ‘er gebeurt niets’ en ‘er gebeurt iets’. 

Compilation NL
12.12.2018
Alexander Kluge 1984
Ingeleid en samengesteld door
Vertaald door

“Cinema is de publieke hoofdzetel van gevoelens in de twintigste eeuw,” aldus Alexander Kluge in het boek dat dient ter begeleiding van Die Macht der Gefühle (1983), een film die hij zelf beschouwt als een sleutelwerk in zijn voortdurend streven om gevoelens te herdenken in hun complexiteit en capaciteit.

Conversation NL
12.12.2018
Florian Hopf 1984
Inleiding door
Vertaald door

Een politiek die sterk genoeg zou zijn om oorlogen en fascisme te vermijden, niet nadat ze gewoed hebben maar voordat ze zich ontwikkelen, kan ik mij enkel voorstellen als het een politiek is die alle gevoelens beheerst. Als er ook maar één ontbreekt, dan heeft ze meteen een achilleshiel. We moeten gevoelens dus uit hun babylonische gevangenschap bevrijden. Uit hun vaderland verjaagd zijn gevoelens verraders geworden. Ze vergissen zich en hebben een bepaalde blindheid aangenomen die ze van huis uit niet hebben.

Compilation NL
12.12.2018
Alexander Kluge 1983
Samengesteld door
Vertaald door

Het documentatieprincipe hoort van bij het begin bij de film. Het betekent niets anders dan objectiviteit. We kunnen zeggen: “Oké! Vanaf nu wordt de film niet-objectief, nu worden we allemaal niet-objectief.” Maar altijd enkel op de achtergrond van de objectiviteit. Dat is de voorwaarde voor iets interessants, voor het vertellen van verhalen, voor waarachtigheid, voor spanning.

prisma NL EN
26.09.2018

She doesn’t fit in with the established order, but the organized anarchy the Tramp’s force was able to create, as rigorous as it was pointless, has been cancelled out. 

prisma NL EN
18.10.2017

Net als de Tramp past Wendy niet in de gevestigde orde, maar de anarchie die Chaplins zwerver kon stichten, even rigoureus als zinloos, is tenietgedaan.

Conversation NL EN
20.09.2017

“Fiction is everywhere. The question is: where do we situate the starting point of fiction? What kind of arrangement makes something happen? In a way, we can say there is fiction whenever there is some kind of narrative that tells, or shows, us that something is happening. That’s why, in my recent work, I have mostly been interested in exploring the edges of fiction, the edge between nothing happens and something happens.”

Article EN
19.01.2015

The underdeveloped country that does not have a strong or madly national art is to be pitied, because, without its art, it’s all the weaker (its brain can be colonized), and it’s here that the most dangerous extension of economic colonization can be found. In the specific case of cinema, I want to let my colleagues know that they should endure the criticism, the slander and the contempt without wavering, because I am absolutely convinced that Brazilian Cinema Novo is currently producing images and sounds that are what we can call modern cinema.

Conversation EN
17.09.2014

“And that is the problem that most of the discourse runs into. In other words, as long as you keep insisting that the reasons why people make certain social acts are purposive, rational and programmatic, you’re gonna miss the point, which is that we’re not entirely rational in our actions. [...] I tried – like everybody else I was looking and asking around – but when we put it together, we realised it just wasn’t enough. It didn’t seem to explain the cataclysm. So you needed other ways of trying to do that and we did. We were editing this for a year trying to take seriously the folkloric and the ethnographic and it just wasn’t there. There was always a gap between the fire and the voice.”

Article EN
30.03.2014

In letting go of all chains of causes and effects, knowledge and truth, she becomes a stranger who no longer has a valid place in the layout of paths and traces that others make up to be “reality”; a foreigner out of place and out of reason, lost in the void of uncertainty, in the niente, the nothingness that silently lingers throughout the film.

Article NL
16.10.2013

Voor Daney, zelfverklaarde ‘ciné-fils’, kon de wereld uitgedrukt in films niet los worden gezien van de wereld die ze omringen. In het spoor van de aloude Franse cinefiele traditie beschouwde hij elke film als de uitdrukking van een standpunt, een visie op de wereld die het werk tegelijk legitimeert en organiseert. “De film is een kunst van het tonen. En tonen is een gebaar, een gebaar dat dwingt om te zien, om te kijken. Zonder dat gebaar zijn het slechts plaatjes. Maar als er iets is getoond, moet iemand ook voor ontvangst tekenen.”