Courtisane Festival 2022: Reading List

Next week in Ghent, the Courtisane festival will kick off again in Ghent in the usual venues Sphinx Cinema, Minard, KASKcinema and Paddenhoek. After the previous edition was forced to move to the autumn due to the coronavirus, the festival will be held at the usual moment at the start of spring, running from 31 March until 3 April. The selection contains no less than 15 different programmes. They all form a dialogue between recent and rediscovered films by artists and filmmakers moving in the vast field of the moving image. In addition, the festival offers two focus programmes on the work of Ana Vaz on the one hand and Trevor Mathison on the other. You can find our selection of the program here. In addition, below we present a small overview of available texts on Sabzian that match the festival’s programme.

This year’s edition opens with the Belgian premiere of Kind Hearts, the new film by Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes (who are both part of Sabzian). When the film premiered at the Berlinale in February, we published an interview with the makers by Nina de Vroome, available in Dutch and English.

The programme Encontros is built around the film of the same name by Pierre-Marie Goulet (1950-2021). Courtisane on Goulet’s work: “Encounters were at the heart of the life and work of Pierre-Marie Goulet. His filmmaking consisted of a process of searching and accumulating elements that then needed to be forgotten, to be reborn in ways that he himself could not have anticipated. What interested him the most were those small miracles that would emerge almost by chance. ‘I need to impregnate myself in an obsessive way with a universe that will then give me back the film,’ he said. This process of finding and connecting unsuspected threads, geographical, cultural, or cinematographic, was nowhere as pronounced as in Encontros (2006), a film that revealed itself at the crosspoint of different paths and times based around the polyphonic songs from southern Portugal’s Alentejo region. [...] Encontros acts as a guiding thread for this program, which brings together works by Pierre-Marie Goulet, Margarida Cordeiro and António Reis, Paulo Rocha, and Manoel de Oliveira; but also of Jean-Daniel Pollet, close friend and collaborator of Pierre-Marie Goulet, with whom he shared a profound love for the spaces, the rites, the memory and culture of the Mediterranean; as well as of Sumiko Haneda, who worked with Paulo Rocha on two of his films, and whose Ode to Mt. Hayachine (1982) provides another echo of traditions whose vital force continues to reverberate in the present.”

A whole series of texts on Sabzian ties in with this programme, mostly in Dutch. Six years ago, Courtisane, CINEMATEK and Sabzian joined forces to compile a publication on the cinema of Manoel de Oliveira, Paulo Rocha, António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro. Many of the texts from that cahier also found their way to Sabzian’s website. On the work of Paulo Rocha Sabzian has published ‘Fragmenten uit een gesprek tussen Pedro Costa en Paulo Rocha’ (2000), ‘Paulo Rocha praat over Kenji Mizoguchi’ (2000) and Paulo Rocha on Manoel de Oliveira: ‘Over Manoel de Oliveira’ (1996). On the cinema of António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro two Dutch translations of texts by Serge Daney are to be discovered on Sabzian: ‘Te midden van het einde van de wereld’ (1983) and ‘Ver van de Wetten (Trás-os-Montes)’ (1977). From the same publication, the Dutch translation of a fabulous interview by Daney and Raymond Bellour with Manoel de Oliveira, ‘De hemel is historisch’ (1991), can be read on Sabzian.

In 2020, Sabzian screened two films by Jean-Daniel Pollet, Méditerranée (1963) and L’ordre (1973). On the occasion of that screening, we translated several articles on the French essay filmmaker to Dutch: ‘Jean-Daniel Pollet (overhaaste indrukken)’ by Boris Lehman (also available in French), ‘De flits van Méditerranée’ (2018) by Yannick Haenel, ‘Méditerranée’ (1963) and ‘Cinema / Het onbewuste / “Het heilige” / Geschiedenis’ (1969) by Philippe Sollers.

Finally, we just published an English translation of Bernard Eisenschitz’s text on Goulet’s Encontros: “Cinema is a matter of elective affinities, from which it draws its strength, which in turn allows it to resist music and poetry. It took a non-Portuguese to give an account of this framework without simplifying it or making it illegible. Happy encounters that have found the one who remembers in their place. Encounters is the story of links that are too weak to be formulated, except in a poetic language.”

Trevor Mathison, ‘Artist in Focus’ this year, is a founder member of Black Audio Film Collective, a pioneering (documentary) arts initiative founded in 1982 whose experimental works engaged with black popular and political culture in Britain and the black and/or Asian diasporas. In 2014, Sabzian published ‘Between the Fire and the Voice’, an edited transcript of the conversation Stoffel Debuysere (programmer Courtisane) had with filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, also founder member of Black Audio Film Collective.

Curated in dialogue with Sirah Foighel Brutmann, Eitan Efrat and Sonja Simonyi, Courtisane screens two films by Harun Farocki this year, as part of the Farocki / Dóra Maurer selection. Last year, Sabzian screened Farocki’s Bilder der Welt (1989), both online and at KASKcinema. Quite a few texts appeared on Sabzian on the occasion of those screenings: ‘Two or Three Things I Know About Harun Farocki’ (2015) by Nora M. Alter, a conversation by Marco Scotini with Farocki, ‘Labour and its Memory’ (2010), an interview by Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Making the World Superfluous’ (1993) and a text by Farocki himself: ‘Reality Would Have to Begin’ (1988). Lastly, in Dutch, a text by Sabzian’s own Hannes Verhoustraete: ‘In de donkere kamer komt niets aan het licht. Gedachten bij Harun Farocki’s Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges’ (2021).

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Each month, Sabzian lists upcoming Belgian premieres, releases and festivals.