Documentary does not need to stare perpetually into the future. The present is not the only worthy subject. The past can be reborn, renewed, recontexualized. Aging materials given a new life.
Films rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of archival clips, home movies, famous works of fiction obsessed over. New visions are born, risks are taken, ideas reconfigured. History written by the light of the screen.
Leandro Listorti's The Endless Film, a brand new film for our platform, is built from the remains of Argentine films that were never completed. It is, in its own way, a phantom parallel history of cinema. A journey in film negatives throughout creation and loneliness. A history about what was not. A cinematic Frankenstein coming back to life in front of our eyes.
Meanwhile Canadian Stephen Broomer's eponymous cine-biography of critic Harry Alan Potamkin is assembled out of distorted fragments of films on which he had written, an impression of erupting consciousness. In 1933, at age 33, Potamkin died of complications related to starvation, at a time when he was one of the world's most respected film critics. In his writings, he advocated for a cinema that would simultaneously embrace the fractures and polyphony of modern life and the equitable social vision of left radical politics.
Austrian master Peter Tscherkassky's Happy-End is a found footage film in the truest sense: the re-working of someone else's home movies from the 60s and 70s. The sequences selected are taken from many hours of the staged private life of Rudolf and Elfriede, pivoting on demonstrative celebrations, alcohol and cake consumption together. This is not a hidden camera, since its subjects turn to it laughing, gesticulating, revelling with an imaginary audience. It must be their child, a child who never enters the picture itself.
The Great Flood, Bill Morrison's film about the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flood in American history, uses minimal text and no spoken dialog. Morrison and composer/guitarist Bill Frisell create a powerful portrait of this seminal moment in American history purely through a collection of silent images matched to a searing original soundtrack. It is a hellish vision, and one only possible in recovered cinema like this.
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