Courtisane Festival 2023: Reading List

Zendegi va digar hich [Life and Nothing More...] (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992)

On 29 March 2023, the 22nd edition of the Courtisane festival kicks off at the Minard in Ghent with a screening of the restoration of the American filmmaker, dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s The Man Who Envied Women (1985), followed by four days of screenings, both of contemporary and historical work, talks and presentations in the usual venues Sphinx Cinema, Minard, KASKcinema and Paddenhoek. The artists in focus of this year’s edition are the Vietnamese filmmaker and theorist Trinh T. Minh-ha (1952) and the American documentary filmmaker Robert Kramer (1939-1999). In presenting their programme, the festival points out the “in-between” that runs through it. “It is not only central to the work of Trinh T. Minh-ha and Robert Kramer, who each in their own way resist any form of compartmentalisation by repeatedly rearranging and shifting established boundaries, including their own. It’s also the fundamental theme of the programme The Murmur of the World, a selection of cartographic fictions that accommodate a multitude of territories, voices, languages and possibilities of life that offer contrarian perspectives on what ‘togetherness’ can mean.” You can find our selection of the program here. In addition, we present an overview of available texts on Sabzian that match the festival’s programme.

In 2019, Sabzian and Beursschouwburg presented Robert Kramer’s and John Douglas Milestones (1976), a film that maps the different paths taken by the New Left in the early 1970s. On the occasion of this screening, two Dutch texts were published around the film, which also provide insight into Kramer’s larger body of work: Anton Jäger’s ‘“People have withdrawn”’ and Hannes Verhoustraetes ‘Milestones. “All the play of the heart. All the fullness of feeling.”’. The latter will also see his new film, Broken View (2023), premiere at Courtisane. Four years ago, we published an interview Gerard-Jan Claes conducted with Verhoustraete about Un pays plus beau qu’avant (2019), “a film about Congo, made in Brussels”, in which the wanderings of a retail trader, Jean-Simon, sketch the contours of a microcosmic informal economy in the Congolese community. Broken View is a poetic essay film on the colonial gaze and the magic lantern, proving a look at the tension between aesthetic experience and the reverberations of colonial ideology. Ahead of the festival, we will publish a new interview with Verhoustraete on his latest film, conducted by Tillo Huygelen.

A whole series of texts on Sabzian ties in with the programme The Murmur of the World. On the cinema of Johan van der Keuken: an interview with the Dutch documentary filmmaker by the Cahiers du Cinéma, available in French and Dutch, Gerard-Jan Claes on Het witte kasteel (1973), in both English and Dutch, and a text by Van der Keuken himself on editing, available in Dutch and English. On the work of Abbas Kiarostami: ‘An Unfinished Cinema’ by the Iranian filmmaker himself, also available in Dutch, and ‘Bogus Makhmalbaf Arrested’, the original 1989 article that led to Kiarostami’s Nema-ye nazdik [Close-Up] (1990). Last year, we published a new English interview with Helke Misselwitz, whose Winter adé (1989) Sabzian will co-present with Courtisane at the festival, in the presence of the German filmmaker. In connection with the screening of Chantal Akerman’s D’est, we suggest you to revisit this Note in which we listed the many texts on Sabzian surrounding the Brussels-born filmmaker. To accompany this screening, we published a new English translation of Dirk Lauwaert’s text on D’est.

More texts to go with the programme: discover the texts by Rebecca Jane Arthur whose new film is premiering at Courtisane, on the work of Paulo Rocha – Courtisane is screening his Os verdes anos [The Green Years] (1963) on Friday – 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), reread Jacques Rancière’s text (Dutch) on Sylvain George ahead of the screening of his new film Nuit obscure – Feuillets sauvages (Les brûlants, les obstinés) (2022) or Bertrand Tavernier on Raoul Peck (in English or Dutch), linked to the new film by Collectif Faire-Part, Speech for a Melting Statue (2023).

The festival closes on Sunday with the presentation of Courtisane’s new publication on the work of Alia Syed, and a screening of three of her films: Points of Departure (2014), Clippy (2016) and Snow (2019). That evening also marks the last screening at Paddenhoek, a venue where the festival shared numerous highlights. After a renovation, the cinema will disappear for good.

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