Our first film of the week, Häxan (1922) by Benjamin Christensen, is a fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe. Häxan has known a lot of resistance due to its subversive, offensive images of “unadulterated horror”. Upon its release, a famous review from 1923 reads: “Wonderful though this picture is, it is absolutely unfit for public exhibition.” It was banned or censored a lot until its later re-releases. Bjorn Gabriels from the Research Centre for Visual Poetics will introduce the screening.
The second film featured on this week’s agenda, Hiroshima mon amour (1959), chronicles the intense love affair of a French actress and a Japanese architect over the course of one day and one night. Their lives are bound to the fate of the nations they represent – entwined bodies melt together, and France meets Japan as memories of the last German occupation in Nevers intersect with those of the bombardment of Hiroshima. Part of the literary inspired Groupe Rive Gauche (Left Bank Group) movement, Alain Resnais was launched into recognition with this film, his first feature-length film, based on the screenplay by Marguerite Duras. Hiroshima mon amour is perhaps the most successful synthesis between film and literature. Resnais allegedly urged Duras to “write literature. Don’t worry about me. Forget about the camera.”
Trop tôt/Trop tard (1981) will close the first complete retrospective of the work of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub presented by Goethe-Institut Brussels and CINEMATEK. “This retrospective is the result of a twofold desire: to show the films Straub made after 2006, most of which were shot digitally, and to show, in the same programme and sometimes within the same screenings, the films they made together between 1962 and 2005.” Gilles Deleuze remarks about Straub’s films that there is something peasantry about history. History is inseparable from the earth. Trop tôt/Trop tard is a remembrance of class struggle that links the 19th century French peasants to 20th century Egyptian workers.