September 19, 2006

Several links for more background on recent Straub/Huillet:

--2 beautiful dossiers from NEW FILMKRITIK on QUEI LORO INCONTRI, in German. Includes material on Pavese, Costa, Jean-Marie's "Testament" which he recited to a crowd at the Viennale '04 (a passage from Hölderlin's Der Tod des Empodokles), DALLA NUBE ALLA RESISTENZA...
another HERE.
and HERE.

--Libération's report on the Straubs and Venice by Olivier Seguret, in French. It begins "Vive Lenin! It is Jean-Marie Straub who inspires this heartfelt cry to us."

--Essay on QUEI LORO INCONTRI by Carlos Adriano, in Portugeuse.,1.shl

--A profile of a documentary film on Straub/Huillet's staging of QUEI LORO INCONTRI, at the Teatro Francesco di Bartolo in Tuscany, May 2005.


September 13, 2006


Full english translation of Straub's "Three messages" to Venice. Translation, prologue and epilogue by Tag Gallagher (thanks to Craig Keller for also keeping me abreast) :

A new film by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Quei loro incontri ("Those encounters of theirs"), had its world premier a few days ago in competition at the Venice Film Festival. The movie's dialogue consists of the last five dialogues of Cesare Pavese's Dialoghi con Leucò ("Dialogues with Leuco"). And the jury (headed by Catherine Deneuve) had determined to give a special Lion to the Straubs “for invention of cinematic language in the ensemble of their work.” The Straubs, however, did not show up for their film or ceremony. Instead they sent a number of their actors who left Pisa at 4 a.m. to be in Venice on time for the film’s press conference, where Festival director Marco Müller announced Danièle was ill and that Jean-Marie had sent a statement, which Giovanna Daddi, one of the actors, read:


Three messages
Jean-Marie Straub

First) It’s come too soon for our death - too late for our life.
Anyway, I thank Marco Müller for his courage. But what do I expect from it? Nothing. Nothing at all? Yes, a small revenge. A revenge "against the intrigues of the court," as is said in The Golden Coach. Against so many ruffians.

Why Pavese?
Because he wrote:
"Communist doesn’t mean just wanting to be. We’re too ignorant in this country. We need communists who aren’t ignorant, who don’t spoil the name."

Or again:
"If once it was enough to have a bonfire to make it rain, or to burn a vagabond on one to save a harvest, how many owners’ houses need to be burnt down, how many owners killed in the streets and squares, before the world turns just and we have our words to say?"

Pavese has the bastard say: "The other day I passed by the Mora. The pine tree by the gate’s not there anymore." Replies Nuto: "The bookkeeper had it cut down -- Nicoletto, that ignorant man. He had it cut down because the tramps would stop in its shade and beg, you understand…"
Again Nuto, elsewhere:
"Given the life he leads, I can’t call him a poor fool, as if it would do any good… First, the government should burn up all the money and the people who defend it."

Best wishes.

Second) I have been:
1. at the Venice Festival (as journalist) in 1954, I chose to write on three films:
No prizes!
2. At the Festival (short films) in 1963 with my first film MACHORKA-MUFF(‘62): no prize.
3. At the Festival in ‘66 with NICHT VERSöHNT (Not Reconciled, 1965). Projection paid for by Godard!
5. At Venice for retrospective in 1975 (wanted by Gambetti) of all our films up to MOSES AND ARON (included), 1974.
At the Festival of Cinematographic Art with Quei loro incontri for A Roaring Lion.

Third) Besides I wouldn’t be able to be festive in a festival where there are so many public and private police looking for a terrorist - I am the terrorist, and I tell you, paraphrasing Franco Fortini: so long as there’s American imperialistic capitalism, there’ll never be enough terrorists in the world.


Marco Müller then closed the Press Conference without any of the actors getting a chance to say a word. (Straub's citations are from Pavese's La luna e i falò [The moon and the bonfires], which the Straubs filmed in 1979 as part of Dalla nube alla Resistenza [From the cloud to the Resistance].)

Straub’s messages caused a furor at the Festival and in the Italian press -- but have been virtually unreported outside of Italy. Was an award still in order? The jury met again. At least one jury member, American Cameron Crowe, objected it was not opportune, on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, but consented on an understanding that the Festival would "distance" itself from Straub's "anti-American" message. (Apparently it's anti-American to oppose imperialism.)

The award was given but the "distance" was not announced -- thank goodness! We have nothing to fear from the world being filled with "terrorists" such as Straub defines himself -- people making movies like Straub. But we have everything to fear from neo-McCarthyites who seek to hinge artistic recognition on an endorsement of imperialism.

-Tag Gallagher

"I do it because some of the younger people must know..." -Huillet

--facsimilies of Jean-Marie Straub's "Three Messages" to the Venice film festival, in his absence. The center handwritten sheet is translated in my previous post below. A complete english translation will be posted or linked to shortly. As for actual english language reportage, critique, or analysis of the film itself (QUEI LORO INCONTRI aka The Meetings), we may have to wait some time for that. This is the only english report on the film that I know of, by Reuters; blissfully ignorant and somewhat ostracizing.

The last typewritten sheet above deals with "Why Pavese?" (QUEI is based on the last five dialogues of Pavese's Dialogues with Leuco) and, like the films of Straub/Huillet, consists of small sections of text that express singular outrage (Pavese was perhaps even more singular and alone than the Straubs in his communism) at "how the world goes", in the words of one member of the cast. Nothing is "little" in what the Straubs do, from the equality of things in their films, from shot to shot, to a "little" passage in Pavese tossed at the immodest atmosphere of a film festival (the cutting down of a pine tree because tramps were getting shade and begging there, quoted in the 3rd message above) or Vittorini (a dialogue on ricotta in their film OPERAI, CONTADINI) -- feeling as a weapon.

The urgent handwritten note or dedication is integral to Straub/Huillet. In fact they have a long history of side-propagation at festivals and public events. Handing out provocative leaflets (to get MACHORKA-MUFF seen against the wishes of it's producers), passing notes, verbally dedicating a film to the Vietcong at a certain screening ("that morning we saw in the newspapers that the bombing of Hanoi had begun again, and we said simply, at that moment, showing the film to those people, that the film was dedicated to the Vietcong."), tacking up flyers saying "This film was turned down by the Selection Committee of the Cannes festival" (says Huillet, "If I feel I must say this about the Cannes festival, it's not out of revenge or to rock the boat in any way. It won't rock anything at all; I do it because some of the younger people must know...")

And because nothing is little and the letter is handwritten, or typewritten, rather than word processed, and because the Straubs began their very first film MACHORKA-MUFF with a handwritten note ("No story; a visual, abstract dream") and have since filmed many other handwritten notes -- dedications to Holger Meins (who died on a hunger strike in prison as a suspected Red Army Faction terrorist), or to "Barnabé the cat"... for the connection between everyday life, political action and cinema...for all that, I post these facsimilies.

(Thanks to Klaus Volkmer for info and documents)

September 8, 2006

"I would not be able to celebrate in a festival where there are so much public and private police looking for a terrorist. I am that terrorist. To paraphrase Franco Fortini: as long as American imperialistic capitalism exists, there won't be enough terrorists in the world. All the best, Jean-Marie".

Message from Jean-Marie Straub to the Venice Film Festival, 6 September 2006

"D'altronde non potrei festeggiare in un festival dove c'è tanta polizia pubblica e privata alla ricerca di un terrorista - il terrorista sono io, e vi dico, parafrasando Franco Fortini: finché ci sarà il capitalismo imperialistico americano, non ci saranno mai abbastanza terroristi nel mondo."

September 6, 2006

"in asmuch as the Vendôme column is a monument devoid of all artistic value, tending to perpetuate by its expression the ideas of war and conquest of the past imperial dynasty, which are reproved by a republican nation's sentiment, citizen Courbet expresses the wish that the National Defense government will authorise him to disassemble this column."

Gustav Courbet, 1871

(later, the Paris Commune took a vote and dismantled the column)