Celebrating, appraising and dissecting the work of film artists is the great joy of Senses of Cinema. But when such work is demanded by the passing of a major figure, it is overlain by an inescapable melancholy.
Chantal Akerman passed away on 5 October this year, when this issue was in the early stages of planning. Long-time Senses of Cinema contributor Bérénice Reynaud immediately proposed a tribute, written exclusively by women who knew the director. In this sense, it is not a critical evaluation – it is perhaps too early for that – but rather an expression of love by those who knew and worked with a great filmmaker, whose future films are now forever lost. Many thanks to Bérénice Reynaud for her work as guest editor on this special tribute, and Felicity Chaplin for her translations (along with regular editor Daniel Fairfax).
This issue also marks the anniversary of another great director whose career was tragically cut short. November marked 40 years since the brutal murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini on a beach in Rome, an event memorialised in Abel Ferrara’s recent film Pasolini (2014). Coming out of a conference held at Yale University earlier this year, the dossier focuses on the Italian auteur’s wide-ranging cinematic œuvre, as well as reflecting on – and contributing to – recent scholarship in the burgeoning field of Pasolini studies.
Elsewhere, we spotlight two very different strands of Australian cinematic history. Dan and Lienors Torre unveil their ground-breaking research on Australia’s first major animation studio, while renowned Australian filmmaker and thinker John Hughes provides an alternative take on the Australian “film revival” of the 1970s and 80s, through a history of the Sydney and Melbourne Filmmakers’ Co-ops.
Happily, December is not all about mourning and lost histories. Amir Ganjave interviews Apichatpong Weerasethakul – one of the most esoteric and entertaining directors of the present era – about his latest feature Cemetery of Splendor. The latest addition to our editorial team, Alex Heller-Nicholas, talks to living treasure Luciano Tovoli about his cinematography on Dario Argento’s lurid Suspiria of 1977. Tom Ryan follows up his article on Magnificent Obsession in Issue 73 with a comprehensive account of the literary and cinematic forebears of Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959). And Marco Abel charts Henner Winckler’s relationship with the “Berlin School” of contemporary German cinema.
Don’t forget the end of the year also means our very popular World Poll is just around the corner. The Poll will be up by mid-January.
It’s been a year of transition and changes here at Senses of Cinema. With a mostly new editorial team we have forged ahead with a more curated and focused approach, spotlighting everything from Antonioni to Asian documentary. But our passion and commitment to cinematic art and artists remains constant – especially those artists and films that are overlooked, undervalued, or forgotten. Akerman and Pasolini may be big names, but they were also artists who explored discomforting ideas and aesthetic frontiers that some found outrageous. Each in their own way paid a heavy price for their commitments. The tributes in this issue are our small way of saying thanks.
– Alex, Dan, Danny, Michelle and Tim