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November 14 – November 17, 2013

Ciné-voyage. Documentary Fictions by Nicolas Rey

French filmmaker Nicolas Rey (b. 1968) has directed a series of remarkable fictional documentaries, intricate feature-length (and sometimes longer) essay films that meld historical fact with fantasy and autobiography while implementing modernist literary strategies to unravel heady and playful ruminations on ideological and cinematographic technologies. Equally philosophical and structuralist-materialist, Rey's cinema uses lyrical, ludic and topographical forms of narrative to question the definition and limits of the State and cinematic illusionism. Rey's filmmaking is deeply informed by his active role as a member of the artist-run not-for-profit film laboratory, L'Abominable, one of the last bastions of photochemical artisanship in Western Europe. Employing exquisite hand-processing techniques, Rey uses photochemical grain and stain to give emotional texture and nuance to his painterly imagery which discovers moments of sublimity within seemingly quotidian scenes. — Haden Guest

The Harvard Film Archive is thrilled to welcome Nicolas Rey on the occasion of his first US retrospective.

The Nicholas Rey touring exhibition is supported in part by a grant from Cine2000, a program of FACE.

Special thanks: Bérénice Reynault – REDCAT, Los Angeles; Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ernst Karel – Film Study Center, Harvard.

cine2000

 

 


$12 Special Event Tickets
Nicolas Rey in Person
- in Room B-04
Thursday November 14 at 7pm

The Soviets Plus Electricity
(Les Soviets plus l’électricité)

Directed by Nicolas Rey
France 2001, 16mm, color, 175 min. French with English subtitles

Conceived as a "single extended tracking shot" making literal use of the Trans-Siberian railroad, The Soviets Plus Electricity is an eccentric and touching chronicle of Rey's long voyage by train from Paris to Pacific, across the length of Northern Russia.

Seeking an alternate poetry and rhythm within the cinematic image and the idea of a film diary, Rey shot on Super-8 which he then slowed down to an average of nine frames per second while also blowing it up to 16mm to expand the swirling dance of grain and movement within the frame. Rey's own non-synchronous cassette diary is laid down as a soundtrack that only roughly accompanies his lyrical imagery, offering an insightful, introspective and often deeply personal form of voiceover companion, a fellow traveler on his ciné-voyage, rambling on gently beside the viewer. A meditation on the failed promise and lingering fantasies of the Soviet Union, The Soviets Plus Electricity is Rey's most personal work.

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Nicolas Rey in Person

Friday November 15 at 7pm

differently, Molussia (autrement, La Molussie)

Directed by Nicolas Rey
France 2012, 16mm, color, 81 min. German with English subtitles

Rey's playful approach to narrative and structure reaches a new level and complexity in his latest film, a truly radical adaptation of The Molussian Catacomb, Günther Anders' tale of an imaginary totalitarian kingdom written in the early 1930s, during and in clear reference to the Nazi rise to power. Drawn to this book that he had not read and that remains untranslated into French (or English), Rey instead asked his friend Peter Hoffman to select chapters to read as the film's narration. Taking its cue from the first word of its title, each screening of Rey's film will be different, with each of the order of its nine reels selected I Ching style and presented in random order. In this way subtexts and hidden rhythms are unlocked from within Anders' extended dialogue about State power – spoken by a teacher and student who are captive in a Kafkaesque prison. In lyrical counterpoint to the voiceover recitation are a series of topographical images of landscapes shaped by highways, mountains and largely indifferent architecture, everyday landscapes, all in the radius of Paris, that are given a new power in Rey's films as expressions of the invisible yet omnipresent State.

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Nicolas Rey in Person
Sunday November 17 at 4pm

Schuss!

Directed by Nicolas Rey
France 2005, 16mm, color, 123 min. French with English subtitles

Rey's first feature film begins as a stylish quasi-verité documentary about everyday life in a modest French ski resort. Gradually the film's attention shifts and discovers the dominant presence of the aluminum industry in the area steadily reshaping the region and threatening the resort itself. Shot on grainy 16mm treated with extreme photochemical techniques, the fable about industry and capitalism is an exploration of landscape as a hidden set of signifiers of power.

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