The Moving Image 3.1 (2003) 158-161
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Cinema2, Il Cinema Ritrovato. Bologna, Italy, July 2002
"Cinema2 : Old Images, New Films" was presented for the first time in 2001 as a section of the film festival Il Cinema Ritrovato under the direction of Peter van Bagh and organized by the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna. The reuse/recycling of moving images is commonly known as found footage. The purpose of this section of the festival is explained by Pauline de Raymond (who curated it with Sergio Fant and Paolo Simoni): "We are interested in acquainting people with the practice of film montage, especially the creative use made of these materials by mixing them with their aesthetic sources." In other words, all of the films shown in this program reuse found footage to create new works.
In the first year, the program offered a historical and aesthetic "guided tour," which also maintained an "archive-style" tone, comprising seven programs. The starting point was "Cinema before Cinema." 9 Images d'un lion en mouvement (1999, super 8mm), by French filmmaker Othello Vilgard, features a lion, photographed by the pioneer Edward Muybridge, as he circles around his cage, but suddenly, as if electrified, the lion starts dancing in front of our eyes. The short nine-minute film ends with Albert Londe's image of the blacksmith raising his hammer. Images are repeated. Vilgard explores the dual relationship between fixedness and movement in the image, leading it toward its own plasticity. In Intermittences non régulées de Etienne-Jules Marey (1977), the French filmmaker Jean-Michel Bouhours investigates the origins of the Lumière Brothers invention. "Can we really call it a discovery?" asks Bouhours in a statement made in July 1978, "or is it rather the result of a fusion of the various research experiments developed at the same time but in different countries by Emile Reynaud, Edward Muybridge, Thomas Edison, Thomas Eakins, Albert Londe, and Marey?" And he adds:
These works, unfairly considered as cinema subdiscoveries, for today's avant-garde represent extraordinary prototypes of visual art. Just like at the end of the nineteenth century, when all research studies were converging toward a representation of movement and time, it would appear that the recent experimental films set off in search of a new perception and perhaps of new supports. (quoted in Cinema2 program)
His fourteen-minute silent film is a montage of images in black-and-white of the various photocinematographic experiments of the auteurs mentioned. The Italian filmmaker Paolo Gioli puts various precinema clips in sequence in his fifteen-minute film Piccolo film decomposto (1985), creating an inventory of the first moving images, including the chronophotography of Georges Demeny.
Of great interest, not only for its reused and reworked images, is the medium-length film (36 minutes) Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (Workers Leaving the Factory, 1995) by Haroun Farocki, one of the greatest found footage artistsin Germany and Austria. Taking after the Lumière Brothers' film La sortie des usines (1895), Farocki went in search of workers leaving other factories during the twentieth century, putting the main gates of Ford in 1926 together with those of Volkswagen in 1975. He also weaves in footage "stolen" from Griffith's Intolerance and Antonioni's Deserto rosso with its famous tracking shot on the blue stripe on the wall. [End Page 158] What emerges is an interesting overview of workers in different countries, and Farocki himself states:
Chaplin played a worker, Marilyn Monroe once exited the gate of a fish factory...but the worker's film has not become a main genre in film history. The space in front of the gate is far from being a preferred cinematic location. Most films begin when the work is over. I have collected images from several countries and many decades expressing the idea "exiting the factory," both staged and documentary—as if the time has come to collect film sequences, in the way words are brought together in a dictionary. (quoted in Cinema2 program)
Other sections of Cinema2...