Thursday, April 1, 2010

75 Years in the Dark: Poetry Meets Politics – The Essay

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

curated & introduced by Irina Leimbacher
presented in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

In the 1970s SFMOMA screened a number international and American nonfiction works, including film essays, political manifestoes and experimental works proclaiming or interrogating social and aesthetic change. Among them were works by Chris Marker, including La Jetée, Letter from Siberia and Cuba: Battle of the Ten Million. Le Joli mai was presented at the museum in May 1976.

Filmed in the same year as La Jetée, Le Joli mai is one of Chris Marker’s great but lesser-known essay films. Mixing voice-over commentary with a series of interviews with Parisians from all walks of life, it moves between questions about personal happiness and questions of national and global politics—from the new consumerism to the French-Algerian War that had just ended, union organizing, women’s rights and colonial relationships. But the film is also a love song to Paris and its inhabitants, their customs, foibles and contradictions. Intertwining provocative interviews with his inimitable commentary, at once tender and ironic, Marker portrays a specific juncture of history—May 1962—from the point of view of the “sum of solitudes” that make up his voluble city. (IRINA LEIMBACHER)

Chris Marker & Pierre Lhomme: Le Joli mai (1963), 124 min.
(New print courtesy of David Shepard)

For program overview, please see 75 Years in the Dark: Material & Illusion.