For so many cinephiles, our love for cinema is also wrapped up in our personal biographies: films watched are difficult to disassociate from the people we were when we watched them, and returning to the same work years or decades later has a powerful ability to evoke memories of the past, much like the smell of a madeleine did for the protagonist of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Since its founding, Senses of Cinema has been governed by a profoundly cinephilic orientation. Films, we have always insisted, should not merely be discussed as objects of dispassionate academic research, but as the source of powerful emotions: love, desire, repulsion, outrage, terror, yearning, devotion. It is natural, then, that we should dedicate a dossier to cinephilia’s connection to that most enigmatic of sensations – nostalgia. Willfully departing from the normal conventions of scholarly writing, a dozen of our best writers have penned personal reflections on their own relationship with the cinema, and with the films that have most marked their lives.
We are very excited to be hosting the digital version of a special dossier on filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, co-edited by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and John Edmond, to commemorate their visit to Australia for the retrospectives to be held at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and the Queensland Film Festival (QFF) in July-August. Contributors include Christoph Huber, Anton Bitel, Jeremi Szaniawski, David Evan Richard, Michael Sicinski, Martyn Conterio, Kat Ellinger, Clare Nina Norelli and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas – all with exciting and varying critical approaches to this fascinating filmmaking duo.
Our features this issue are an extraordinary mix of interviews with contemporary filmmakers, and discussions of some of the most significant films of recent years. Peter Verstraten investigates Valeska Grisebach’s Western (2017) and argues for a perspective on the film as an unacknowledged remake of Samuel Fuller’s Run of the Arrow (1957). Mauricio Rivera explores the place of Ciro Guerra’s The Embrace of the Serpent (2015) within the histories and literature of the South American rubber holocaust. Sherry Johnson considers the relationship of artist and model in Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse (1991) through the lens of classical art and shamanism. Adriano D’Aloia narrates his experience of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation Carne y Arena, which allows the audience to see the world through the eyes of a migrant crossing the US-Mexico border. Using a phenomenological approach, D’Aloia explains how the immersive experience communicates with our sensorial apparatus. This article is particularly relevant given the recent outcry over the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies.
We have a great range of one-on-one chats with some of today’s most interesting auteurs. Doosie Morris catches up with Emma-Kate Croghan, whose career broke with the fresh energy of 1996’s Love and Other Catastrophes. It’s an interview that sees Croghan reflecting on her career and her position within the Australian and international film community. Pip Chodorov and Jeremi Szaniawski interviewed controversial director Gaspar Noé about his deep passion for Kubrick’s 2001: a Space Odyssey and the iconic film’s 50th anniversary. Tomáš Hudák spoke to French-Canadian auteur Denis Côté about his genre-bending new film Ta peau si lisse (A Skin So Soft, 2017) which delves into the lives of six bodybuilders, and Daniel Fairfax was in conversation with the young filmmaking duo Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmid, whose film Diamantino scooped up the Critic’s Week prize at Cannes this year. Meanwhile, in the latest entries in our Great Directors database, Samm Deighan examines the career of Philippe Grandrieux in depth and Jeremy Carr tackles Luchino Visconti, while, in our annotations coinciding with upcoming screenings for Melbourne Cinémathèque, we focus on films by directors including Věra Chytilová, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Robert Wiene and Sergio Corbucci.
Festival coverage includes Daniel Fairfax on Cannes, Tara Judah on Oberhausen, Annie Berke on Full Frame, Chris Berry on Udine, Randy Malamud on Diagonale, Matt Turner on CPH:DOX, Leonardo Goi on IndieLisboa, Marc Raymond on Jeonju, Jordan M. Smith on True/False, Andreea Patru on Las Palmas and Carmen Gray doing her round up of some recent international documentary festivals. We also have reviews of some of the latest film-related literature, including responses to Noam Elcott’s Artificial Darkness, Noa Steimatsky’s The Face on Film, Robert Kolker’s The Extraordinary Image and many more.
This issue we bid farewell to our brilliant webmaster Rachel Brown, who has been with the journal for 7 years. We thank Sian Mann for their webmastering duties this issue. We are also very happy to welcome our new Webmaster and Administrator, Bradley Dixon!
– the editors