I don’t know any filmmaker who protected himself less than he did. — André Téchiné, on Jacques Rivette
In DUELLE (Rivette, 1976)—set in Paris—Viva, the Queen of the Sun (Bulle Ogier), and Leni, Queen of the Moon (Juliet Berto) descend to Earth and outmaneuver one another for primacy. This annual battle of wills takes place during the forty days leading up to the first full moon of spring.
Rivette’s telling—which co-stars Nicole Garcia, Hermine Karaghuez, and Jean Babilée—captures an indelible moment of mid-1970s chic, with Ogier modeling a series of RenéeRenard ensembles modeled after Yves Saint Laurent’s le smoking.
Mise-en-scène is a rapport with the actors, and the communal work is set with the first shot. What’s important for me in a film is that it be alive, that it be imbued with presence, which is basically the same thing. And that this presence, inscribed within the film, possesses a form of magic. There’s something profoundly mysterious in this. . . . It’s a collective work, but one wherein there’s a secret, too. — Jacques Rivette
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS is Eliza Hittman’s third cinéma vérité feature, starring Sidney Flanigan as a young woman from rural Pennsylvania traveling to New York City for an abortion.
The film screened earlier this month at a Film Independent Presents event in Culver City, and is now playing in Hollywood and on the Westside, opening next week in Pasadena.
The spark for my new film came in 2012, when a woman named Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning in a hospital in Galway after being refused a life-saving abortion. Out of devastation, I naively began to research the history of abortion rights in Ireland. In a country where abortion was criminalized, I became fascinated to learn that women who needed abortions were forced to travel from Ireland to England.
I began to read more and more about Ireland’s hidden diaspora and saw a compelling untold narrative about ‘women on the run’ traveling with the unbearable burden of shame. These migratory abortion trails also exist within our own country from rural areas with limited and restrictive access, past state lines and into progressive cities. Through extensive research and interviews over several years I developed this script. After premiering Beach Rats at Sundance in 2017 and following the inauguration of Trump, I felt an urgent need to make this film now. The fate of a woman’s fundamental right to access is at risk. If Roe v. Wade is attacked and abortion made illegal nationwide, how far will we have to travel?
Savita Halappanavar’s death revolutionized Ireland. It unified feminist groups throughout the country and galvanized a movement to reverse the cruel Eighth Amendment that recognizes the life of a mother and a fetus as being equal. They were activated because her identity was not anonymous. She had a name, a face, a warm smile that the country could feel and mourn. The abortion ban was historically repealed last May.
Amidst such a fraught moment in U.S. history, it’s hard not to ask myself how I am doing in my artistic practice can create change. Women’s issues are global issues. By taking a social and political issue and demonstrating its impact on one individual or character, my goal is to find ways to get past our audiences’ defenses against this stigmatized subject and open people up to confronting difficult realities.
As an extension of my body of work, the film balances realism and lyricism, beauty and horror, fear and hope. It is infused with intimacy, discomfort, tension and truth. It will ignite controversy and conversation. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is ultimately a story about resistance and will perhaps even inspire change. — Eliza Hittman
BACURAU—the extraordinary epic of Antifa righteousness pitting fascist death squads against the inhabitants of a small village in northern Brazil—was written and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. An opening title card places the film a few years into the future. But in Jair Bolsonaro’s creeping state of siege, it’s less a world to come than a world already here.
On Friday night at the Nuart, join star Udo Kier for a post-screening Q & A.
Support your local art house. During the Covid-19 cinema closures, Kino Lorber and local theaters are offering BACURAU as an online screening option. See following links for details:
Everyone remembers Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M—the story of a Berlin child-killer pursued by the police but brought down by the mob—but few have seen Joseph Losey’s 1951 remake, set amidst the vanished streets of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.
This weekend, as part of the American Cinematheque series Noir City—Hollywood (now in its 22nd year), Losey’s M will screen in a triple bill, after Lang’s original and before the brilliant 1953 Argentine version EL VAMPIRO NEGRO / THE BLACK VAMPIRE (directed by Román Viñoly, and presented in a new DCP restoration).
In conjunction with the exhibition SILKE OTTO-KNAPP—IN THE WAITING ROOM—curated by Solveig Øvstebø—the Renaissance Society and the Logan Center for the Arts present MOVING IMAGES, a series of dance films by Yvonne Rainer, Babette Mangolte and Trisha Brown, and Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham.
Post-screening, Otto-Knapp will discuss the films.