There is no dying of the light that burns within screenwriter and filmmaker Paul Schrader. His is a rage that remains constant. Looking back at the 1970s, it wasn’t that the new and radical wave of US independent films were necessarily better than what was to follow. The difference lay in the effect on the audiences that went to see them, he argues. This new cinema was the catalyst for us all to recognise and articulate our social anxieties. But it was Schrader's vision itself, moulded by a strict Calvinist upbringing, that shaped many of these works, from Taxi Driver to Hardcore to Raging Bull, films characterised by compulsiveness, ambiguity and destructive narcissism.
Some artists are called enfant terrible and the sobriquet sticks even in later life. Not so Schrader, who was difficult and a firebrand from the word go, but a filmmaker nevertheless whose themes are altogether too dark (and whose heroes are so desperately in need of redemption) for him to merit such convenient pigeon-holing now.
His recent Dark is a radical reworking of the 2014 film Dying of the Light, from which he was relieved of editing duties. The new version, assembled from fragments of the theatrical cut, is unlikely to be screened at a cinema near you, but will be up for discussion by Schrader at IFFR, as will his latest film First Reformed, and his fascinating career as a whole.
Monday 29 January 2018 (14:30) - Hilton Le Jardin