So my children live with my mother, and so far they do not have worn-out shoes. But what kind of men will they be? I mean, what kind of shoes will they have when they are men? What road will they choose to walk down? Will they decide to give up everything that is pleasant but not necessary, or will they affirm that everything is necessary and that men have the right to wear sound, solid shoes on their feet?
Natalia Ginzburg, The Little Virtues
What will the worn-out shoes of film be like? Perhaps they lie behind Rossellini's wise lie: Things are there; why manipulate them? Much of contemporary film exists in a minimalist, opaque, excessively mysterious field (the question is whether there is anything behind so much fog), as if they had sound shoes because they don't use them much. There are other films that find a mid-point between the extreme austerity of excluding anything pleasant but unnecessary and the radical hedonism of declaring that everything is necessary. They have sound shoes not because they're not loaded with money, but because they look after them well and use them wisely. They are films that take the things that are there and alter them slightly to make them more true. They use them to build considerable structures that we can call fictions. They narrate thinking of narrative as a process of translation between things and the structures we build with them. In the case of the two filmmakers who make up this programme, what they take are documents, archives from the past, to turn them into characters in a narrative. They also take the same process of research and mould it into fiction. Rather than the idea of “vintage”, of a fetishistic nostalgia, both film-makers take these documents as equals, as if they were actors with whom they discuss a scene before shooting it. Perhaps they do so to overcome the horror of archives, which is the fear that things will be forgotten or mislaid among the millions of boxes. Perhaps because they mistrust the public character proclaimed by the institutions that keep them, in the awareness that free of charge does not always mean free of restrictions. The films that make up this programme are materialist because they take the form of the materials of which they are made, mutating as necessary, but without bending their will completely before others, before the authority of the archive. These archival fictions are sculpted from this tension between the document and its narrative, a group of films made with fascination, charm, fury and action.
Curated and notes by Lucía Salas
And What Is the Summer Saying?
Payal Kapadia, India, 2018, 24 min, DCP, B&W, Marathi
A Night of Knowing Nothing
Payal Kapadia, India-France, 2021, 96 min, DCP, colour-B&W, Hindi-Bengali
Never Eat Alone
Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada, 2016, 68 min, DCP, colour, English
Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada, 2018, 9 min, DCP, B&W, English
Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canadá, 2018, 3 min, DCP, sepia, English
MS Slavic 7
Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell, Canada, 2019, 64 min, DCP, colour, English
Point and Line to Plane
Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada, 2020, 18 min, DCP, colour, English
What materials are films made of? This meeting between filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz and researcher Sonia García López will explore the work of the archive in the making of narratives that are central to the encounter between document and invention, as part of the Ficciones de Archivo (Archive Fictions) focus. Sonia García is a professor and researcher at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.