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Jackie Raynal and Zanzibar

Thu, Aug 7, 2014

Deux Fois
Dir. Jackie Raynal, 1968.
65 min. France. 35mm.
In French with English subtitles.
With Jackie Raynal and Francisco Viader


Fun and Game(s) for Everyone
Dir. Serge Bard and Olivier Mosset, 1968.
55 min. France. 35mm.
In French with English subtitles.
With Salvador Dalí, Olivier Mosset, Amanda Lear, and Michel Auder

Imported 35mm prints courtesy of La Cinémathèque de Toulouse, France. Special thanks to Jackie Raynal, Jake Perlin, and Guillemette Laucoin.

This evening spotlights a pair of films made the same year by the Zanzibar Group, a loose collective of artists whose 13 features, made between 1968 and 1970, were financed by Sylvina Boissonnas, a left-wing oil heiress who asked no questions and granted total creative freedom. Representing a far more radical break with convention than their predecessors in the nouvelle vague, the Zanzibar filmmakers are often understood as a link between European revolutionary cinema and the American underground.

Jackie Raynal has bridged a number of these worlds: first, as an editor of several of Eric Rohmer’s features, and later, as one of New York film culture’s major programming voices behind the Bleecker Street and Carnegie Hall cinemas. Her first feature, Deux Fois, is not only perhaps the greatest of the Zanzibar films, but one of the masterpieces of French cinema. Shot in Barcelona with an earnest feel for experimentation but the assured confidence of an unshackled commercial editor, Deux Fois is a playfully obtuse, plotless procession of obscure cinematic rhymes and games of repetition that tease the viewer and invite one to construct his or her own system of meaning, much like one might draw association between fragments of dreams. Deux Fois is at once childlike, precocious, and beguilingly complex: as Raynal herself states in direct address at the end of its first scene, “Tonight will be the end of all meaning. Ladies and gentlemen: Good evening.”

Made the same year, Fun and game(s) for everyone is shot and processed in impossibly high contrast black-and-white by the famed Henri Alekan (Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Wings of Desire). The faces of attendees at a gallery opening of Olivier Mosset dip in and out of recognition from bright, milky forms to stark black silhouette, accompanied by a swinging score from free-jazz pioneer Sunny Murray, part of Albert Ayler’s trio, and Barney Wilen, who also composed scores for Roger Vadim and Philippe Garrel. It’s a great portrait of comings and goings among the Zanzibar scene rendered in a characteristically unconventional style.

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