Week 47/2023

This week Sabzian will present No quatro da Vanda by Pedro Costa (2000). The film displays a rare virtuosity in depicting Vanda and her community of immigrants and drug addicts in a Lisbon slum. As the French philosopher Jacques Rancière wrote, Costa “placed himself in these spaces to observe their inhabitants living their lives, to hear what they say, capture their secret.” The film will be introduced by Gerard-Jan Claes. 

In the other two films we selected this week, the obsessive and elusive artistic processes of a composer and of a filmmaker are explored. Olivier Messiaen et les Oiseaux (Denise R. Tual and Michel Fano, 1973) is a portrait of the French composer, organist and ornithologist who lived between 1908 and 1992. He was a devout Roman Catholic who honored the divine through his music. He acknowledged the beauty of the creation and birdsong in particular. Messiaen could be often found in a forest listening to birds and transcribing their songs. 

Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo depicts the life of Guido, a film director. Memories of his youth, romantic entanglements and the confusion of a megalomanic film project parade in an exuberant filmic arena. As he struggles with writing a scenario, Guido is relentlessly attacked by the film critic Daumier. Peter Bondanella wrote in his book on Fellini: “As a corollary of his emphasis upon visualizing the moment of creativity, Fellini also provides in Otto e Mezzo a devastating critique of the kind of thinking that goes into film criticism, particularly the kind of ideological criticism so common in France and Italy from the time he began making films up to the moment he began filming Otto e Mezzo.”

This Week