Histoire(s) du cinéma

And so, Senses of Cinema has reached its 40th issue. To celebrate this milestone, the journal has collaborated with ten artists from the prominent dotmov media arts collective to pay tribute to ten of the world’s most important film directors as voted for by readers of the journal. In its inaugural issue of December 1999, Senses published a dozen Top Ten Films entries. Little could we have foreseen that this would develop into one of the journal’s most stable and popular sections, with now more than 600 entries contributed by Senses’ readers over the course of time. The idea behind the project titled Either/Auteur – to be formally launched at Melbourne’s City Library on 2 August – was to take the directors associated with the Top Ten most-voted films and match them with an artist who would in turn create a short experimental film ‘inspired’ by the chosen auteur’s œuvre. The results have been little less than astonishing in their inventiveness. For the record, the artists/auteur contributions are: Saskia Panjii Sakti on Stanley Kubrick, Lorraine Heller-Nicholas on Orson Welles, Brendan McKnight on Alfred Hitchcock, Dom Redfern on Akira Kurosawa, Ryan Hayward on Martin Scorsese, Benjamin Ducroz on Robert Bresson, Jackie Felstead on Carl Dreyer, Anna Philips on Ingmar Bergman, Claire Best on Andrei Tarkovsky, and Eugenia Lim on Jean-Luc Godard. We thank the dotmov media arts collective for initiating the project and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas for helping co-ordinate the event.

Currently, a milestone of real significance is taking place in Paris. We refer, of course, to the Jean-Luc Godard film retrospective and exhibition showing at the Centre Georges Pompidou. Put simply, Godard is a filmmaker much admired by this journal (as are, by the by, Otto Preminger, Jean-Pierre Melville and Sam Peckinpah, three other auteurs featured in this issue). In Alex Munt’s review on the architectural nature of the exhibition, conceived and designed by Godard himself, entitled Travel(s) in Utopia, JLG 1946-2006, In Search of a Lost Theorem and ‘housed’ in the south gallery of the Pompidou, he uses the term “exploded apartment” (taken from the Exhibition Pamphlet) as a term of description. It puts us in mind of historian Georges Sadoul’s elegant 1967 article on Godard titled “Two or Three Things about an Apartment Complex”, which all the more emphasizes the recurring favoured setting/motif/metaphor of the apartment in Godard’s filmography. One thinks of the extended sequence of the atomised married couple Camille (Brigitte Bardot) and Pierre (Michel Piccoli) in the Roman apartment of Le mèpris (Contempt, 1963), or those shipwrecked high-rise apartment complexes that resemble concrete islands on the periphery of Paris in Deux ou trios choses que je sais d’elle (Two or Three Things I Know About Her, 1967), or the Maoist-Lenninists students in their apartment cell in La Chinoise, ou: plutôt à la Chinoise (1967), or … the list would be infinite.

Alongside Munt’s piece, we are publishing for the first time in English translation Sally Shafto’s insightful article on Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinema (1988–98), a video work that, perhaps more than most, has had a conceptual influence on Godard’s current ‘museum’ project.

Finally, as this issue goes online, the Melbourne International Film Festival is underway. Many of the films have played at festivals in the northern hemisphere, and therefore for those of us in the southern hemisphere who still labour under the tyranny of distance, it affords a welcome opportunity to catch up with international trends, together with many local productions. We will carry a comprehensive review of the Festival in our next issue. It is executive director James Hewison’s sixth and final event. (Hewison will subsequently take up the position of chief executive of the Australian Film Institute.) He leaves behind a strong legacy, not least of which has been his continued championing of the cinema of the Middle East. We wish him well.

Rolando Caputo & Scott Murray
Editors, Senses of Cinema

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