This continuing series reprises film and video works shown this past summer at Documenta11, the influential international arts exhibition held every five years in Kassel, Germany. Curated by Mark Nash, the films address themes of the concurrent exhibition as a whole—in particular, experiences of expatriation and diaspora that have been powerfully articulated in Hamid Naficy’s concept of "an accented cinema."
November 6 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Isaac Julien
UK 1984, 16mm, color, 25 min.
Director Isaac Julien made this work in collaboration with Sankofa Film and Video, a media collective dedicated to exploring the place of black culture in the European experience. Territories was one of the group’s first productions to question the conventions of documentary film by including fictional dramatization. Looking at the history of Carnival in Britain as a subversive phenomenon, the film views cultures and languages as markers that attempt to define the boundaries of both metaphorical and real territories. Territories juxtaposes—and often superimposes—original and archival materials: footage of festive street life and rioting during Carnival, of police surveillance, of white and black British men and women exchanging desiring and alienated glances while vying for control of social space, and of the desolate urban evidence of abandonment and neglect.
Directed by John Akomfrah
UK 1986, 16mm, color, 61 min.
Documentary and feature filmmaker John Akomfrah’s celebrated film essay on race and disorder in 1980s Britain—produced by the Black Audio Film Collective Akomfrah helped found—looks at the historical, social, and political background of the racial unrest of the era and the reasons for the anger and disillusionment felt by many from the ethnic communities in Britain, particularly Asian and West Indian. Filmed in Handsworth and London during the riots of 1985, this groundbreaking film also uses extensive newsreel and archival material, ranging from shots of colonial labor to images of Caribbean and Asian settlement. Handsworth Songs won numerous awards, including Stockholm’s Prix Paul Robeson Prize for Cinema and the British Film Institute’s John Grierson Award for Social Documentary.
November 12 (Tuesday) 9:30 pm
November 13 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Pere Portabella
Spain 1989, 35mm, color, 85 min.
With Jordi Dauder, Francisco Guija
Spanish with English subtitles
With its intermittent and rigorous narrative, Warsaw Bridge is a reflection on contemporary ways of narrating memory and history through audiovisual practices. This meta-narrative about three friends—a professor, a conductor, and a writer—is set in motion through the device of the writer’s award-winning book, a memoir of his composer friend, who emigrated to Spain from prewar Germany and has met a mysterious death. In Portabella’s film, the Warsaw Bridge—a real bridge connecting the former East and West Berlin—becomes a metaphor for a personal trip into the history of a nation that remains as obscure to the author as the world on the opposite side of the bridge. The protagonists analyze European society and culture through reflection on aesthetic practices, the status of the image, memory, history, and politics after the fall of the Wall.
November 20 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Rashid Masharawi
Palestine 1998, video, color, 26 min.
Arabic with English subtitles
Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi conveys the palpable sense of tension that he perceived below the surface of daily life for the Palestinian population during the period of the "peace process." The film focuses on the act of observation itself, eschewing spoken dialogue altogether for a narrative that is produced rather through the editing of images, music, and incidental sounds on the track. Tension is organized around the natural cycle of sunrise and sunset, restated in terms of another "natural" work cycle: the many waves of Palestinian day workers who move through gates and checkpoints to labor in Israel and return each evening.
Directed by Rashid Masharawi
Netherlands/Palestine/France 2002, 35mm, color, 85 min.
With Ghassan Abbas, Areen Omary
Arabic with English subtitles
Described by Masharawi as a "fiction documentary," Ticket to Jerusalem offers a privileged view into everyday life in the West Bank though the story of Jaber and Sanah, a Palestinian couple living in a refugee camp near Ramallah. Their existence is a daily negotiation of checkpoints, IDs, and soldiers as Sanah works in the emergency service of the Red Crescent Society and Jaber screens cartoons for children in the refugee camps. Jaber encounters a schoolteacher who enthusiastically envisions an open-air movie screening in the old city of Jerusalem. As he faces the mounting risks of crossing into Jerusalem, his obsession with the project grows, as do the suspicions of his wife. Masharawi, who himself screened films in the refugee camps, creates a fable of lives that are as intricate and complex as the journey though the labyrinthine war zone in which they live.
October 4 (Saturday) 9 pm
Directed by Seifolla Samadian
Iran 1999, video, color, 22 min.
Farsi with English subtitles
On November 29, 1998, moments after the Iranian National Football Team qualified as the 32nd team in the World Cup, the usually quiet streets of Tehran were transformed into seas of joy as people united to celebrate their nation’s sporting victory. In his simple but compelling portrait, Samadian captures the events that temporarily transformed life in this modern Iranian city on a day that would come to be known as "Sweet Saturday." The Iranian government tried to ban this work because of its representation of women celebrating in an "unIslamic" fashion.
Directed by Eyal Sivan
France/Israel 1999, video, b/w, 128 min.
Hebrew, French, and German with English subtitles
In its straightforward, matter-of-fact presentation, The Specialist says more about the true horror of the Holocaust than many more explicit or dramatic accounts. Edited together from more than 500 hours of footage, the film is a record of the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the chief of SS transportation who was largely responsible for the logistics of the "Final Solution." Much more than a mere summary of the trial, The Specialist captures the terrifying ordinariness—and seeming indifference—of the face of evil, as well as the rage, sorrow, and bewilderment of the witnesses testifying against one of the key figures of the Third Reich.