Few cinematic movements have parameters as defined as those of the Czech New Wave – the films presented in this season were enabled during the comparatively relaxed period of political liberalisation in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s, a time of flourishing artistic creativity which came to an abrupt end during the Prague Spring of ’68 as the invading Communist forces reasserted the restrictive regime. This brief window of opportunity led a cadre of astute young writers and directors to act as a barometer, taking the measure of the times through their highly imaginative, politically engaged cinema.
The filmmakers we are focusing on, most of whom were students of FAMU, the Prague film school were smuggling damning critiques of the government into their state-funded films and hence many were indefinitely shelved or banned outright. We must recognise the deliberate aesthetic approach of these films as being symptomatic of a society emerging from a period of cultural conservatism, and as such they are mordant, slyly subversive slices of life under communism. Influenced by the subjectivity of the French New Wave and the cinema verite of Italian Neorealism, Czech directors used non-professional actors, improvised dialogue, allegorical subjects, spiky, associative editing and edgy camerawork to create highly personal and distinctive filmmaking styles.
Professor Jaromir Šofr, cinematographer on two titles in this season as our guest of honour; Prof. Šofr will participate in a discussion following Closely Observed Trains on Sunday 23rd April and in a career master-class on the evening of Monday 24th.
The inaugural edition of the Chinese-Language Film Festival Ireland is honoured to welcome Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien and his longtime collaborator, screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen to our four day festival, Made in Taiwan.
Since directing his début feature Cute Girl in 1980, Hou has enjoyed a prolific career winning awards at Venice, Berlin, and Cannes where he was awarded Best Director with The Assassin (2015).
Hou’s films offer an intimate and uncompromising radiograph of Taiwan’s history of change. Long shots and largely static camera positions make his films instantly recognizable.
The festival features rare screenings of four films spanning Hou’s career: A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), A City of Sadness (1989) and The Assassin (2015), a masterclass with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Chu T’ien-wen as well as post-screening Q&As, the Irish premieres of Hui-chen Huang’s documentary Small Talk and Midi Z ‘s The Road to Mandalay, a special screening of A Touch of Zen (1971) and a programme of six animation short films.
ANIMATION SHORT FILM PROGRAMME: A selection of six animation short films has been curated by Dr. Chi-Sui Wang, Executive Curator, KuanDu International Animation Festival (KDIAF). Presented in association with KDIAF and the Animation Department, Taipei National University of the Arts, one will be screened before each of the feature programmes from Friday to Sunday.
The Festival organising committee would like to thank the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Taiwan Film Institute, Irish Film Institute, Screen Training Ireland, and Professor Chris Berry for their invaluable contribution to this event.
Chinese Language Film Festival Ireland
Festival Organising Committee
(Yvonne Kennedy, Maria O’Brien, Marie-Pierre Richard)
‘As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics’ is a major international exhibition taking place at the Irish Museum of Modern Art from April 13th to August 27th which examines the role of spirituality in visual art from a wide range of perspectives.
A saying often used to allude to the mysterious but familiar world around us, ‘As Above, So Below’ also hints at a duality or a mirroring of sorts, a striking and important feature that recurs in a number of the films selected here to respond to, reflect upon and interact with the varied themes that arise in the exhibition.
In keeping with the artworks in the exhibition, the films that feature here, from directors as diverse as Krzysztof Kieślowski, Ingmar Bergman, Barbara McCullough and Robert Altman, transcend the limitations of and expand upon what is conventionally understood as spiritual to embrace ideas around mysticism, ritual, human consciousness, the otherworld and the occult.
While a direct correspondence or through-line can be discerned in some instances - Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger feature both in the exhibition and in this film selection, thereby providing the opportunity to engage with their extraordinary work in different contexts - in other cases, the connections are less explicit, giving the viewer the chance to perceive for her or himself possible kinships between specific films and artworks.
‘As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics’ is co-curated by Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, UK, and Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator, IMMA. For more details on the exhibition see www.imma.ie
Introduction and film notes by Alice Butler.
The IFI is supported by The Arts Council