Courtisane festival 2018

Notes on cinema
28 March, 2018 - 1 April, 2018
  • Ghent, Belgium

“An exploration of vulnerability,” thus wrote Nina Power about the recently released album of Mhysa, one of the musical guests at this edition of the Courtisane festival. The same phrase could as well be applied to some of the film and video works that constitute the festival program, works that examine and evoke the sense of precariousness that looms over the lives of many in our time. From the men and women struggling to find an existence on the margins of contemporary Chinese society in the work of Wang Bing to the migrants who have left their homes in search of a better life in Europe in the films of Mieriën Coppens, from those defying storms and waves off the coast of the Comoros in Laura Henno’s Koropa to those trying to get by on the shores of the Danube in Annik Leroy’s Vers la mer, those whose destiny appears as the underside of the dominant sense of History are given visibility through a variety of cinematic forms and practices that make us see the world in ever new ways.

A sense of fragility can also be found in the films of Mani Kaul, Robert Beavers, Ephraim Asili and many others here; in the attention given by an ear to a voice, by a gaze to a sight, a thought to an object; in the exchange of words and listening to people’s histories; in a multiplicity of small inventions that are shared, given to the gazes and ears of others without certainty of arrival. After all, isn’t filmmaking a way of not being alone, a way of sharing a condensed view of a world in which filmmakers are first and foremost spectators themselves? Doesn’t cinematic invention always start with the discovery of the possibility of resistance and the force of the unexpected that is contained in a silhouette, a face, an expression?

Watch the children in Wang Bing’s Three Sisters or in Marta Mateus’ Farpões, Baldios, watch Wanda or Milla in Barbara Loden’s or Valérie Massadian’s eponymous films: in their voices, their movements and gazes, we might find a resilience that refuses the imposition of any all-enclosing frame; an insolence that tears them away from their assigned roles as victims of History. Perhaps our own discovery of the tremendous force immanent to this multitude of minute sensations resonating in words and gestures might help us realize that vulnerability and resistance are not directly opposed but always intertwining, aways joined in a constant process of reinvention.