Nile, Aniene, Argens, Scheldt, Rhine, Duero, Danube, Seine, Niagara, Hudson, Mississippi, Outaouais/Ottawa, Detroit, St Lawrence, Desna: fantasy names, the stuff of legends, exalted or ignored by literature, by music, known, unknown, familiar and very distant. These are the names of the rivers in this programme.
Because rivers flow and never turn back, because their waters are endlessly refreshed, they have been allegorically and tediously assimilated to major issues such as the passage of time or identity. It is difficult for them to exist on their own, also in films. When looked at carefully, rivers could be considered the pinnacle of God’s art and yet they are barely used as a kind of eye-catching itinerant backdrop for human intrigues. For every water snake we see a hundred dams, locks, towpaths, bridges and harbours. Twenty boats for every poplar tree. Fifty draveurs (log-drivers) and one, single beaver. Fish always caught or about to be caught. And we will see dams, the greatest violence that rivers can be subjected to.
Rivers distribute water and humankind intervened very early on in how that water was dispensed. We will hear the words “control” or “dominance” used arrogantly and with the best of intentions, in countries with ideologically opposed regimes but united in the fundamental idea that nature “is there for free”. Moreover, conservation does not leave a mark, it does not transcend. Destruction however does. (For example, an illustrious engineer and writer once branded the regions flooded by a reservoir that he designed and that today bears his name as “fossils”). Even so, despite all of this and in support of the films, we will find ourselves in the rivers of the cinema as well as in the Arga river, arg meaning clear and 61 luminous; since the rivers will shine and enlighten us.
The retrospective is curated and the texts are written by Miriam Martín
Banks of the Nile
United Kingdom, 1911, 6 min, DCP, colour, silent
La canta delle marane
Italy, 1961, 11 min, DCP, colour, Italian
Rentrée des classes
France, 1956, 24 min, DCP, B&W, French
L’Hirondelle et la Mésange
France, 1920, 79 min, DCP, B&W, silent
Spiegel van Holland
Netherlands, 1950, 9 min, DCP, B&W, no dialogue
Fischfang in der Rhön (an der Sinn)
Germany, 1932, 11 min, DCP, B&W, silent
Douro, faina fluvial
Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal, 1931, 18 min, 35mm, B&W, silent
Die Donau Rauf
Peter and Zsóka Nestler
Germany, 1969, 28 min, DCP, colour, German
L’Eau de la Seine
France, 1983, 11 min, DCP, colour, silent
Panorama of Gorge railway
James H. White
USA, 1900, 1 min, DCP, B&W, silent
Down the Hudson
Frederick S. Armitage, A. E. Weed
USA, 1903, 3 min, DCP, B&W, silent
USA, 1938, 32 min, DCP, B&W, English
Canada, 1957, 20 min, DCP, B&W, French
Paddle to the Sea
Canada, 1966, 28 min, DCP, colour, English
USSR, 1964, 77 min, 70mm, colour, Russian
[Except for a last minute miracle, The Enchanted Desna will not be screened in Pamplona. The only copy located is a 70mm positive, and 70mm projectors are in the hands of a few and increasingly hard to come by. We’ve left it in the programme because it’s irreplaceable and deserves to be known and recognised, distributed everywhere.]
Presented by Piluka Perona, Arga sympathizer and member of Solidari@s con Itoiz.
An-Nil oual hayat
Egypt-USSR, 1964, 109 min, DCP, colour, Arabic-Russia
The plan is, after four sessions and fourteen films, with both eyes and ears exhausted, to get out of the cinema, take a quiet stroll by the river, meet some of the people who have lived beside it, be captivated, sing, hear when the water sings and when it doesn't, tell the difference between ash and willow trees, touch them, think a little about the phrase "Kingfishers don't pay taxes," and of course welcome anything unforeseen, ignore the plan. All wrapped up in the Zarachovannaya Desna, the film missing from the retrospective, the Soviet child of Russia and Ukraine, and its dam, its garden, its lion, its talking horses.