Stories

What's a finished film?

Our theme programme Laboratory of Unseen Beauty looks at cinema itself, but approached from an angle a bit askew: that of the patchwork, the remains and the ruin. We talk so much about ever ‘better’, more extensive versions of works (usually by well-established figures) that we forget that the greatest part of film history exists only in fragments.

This programme looks at the various ways cinema remembers, preserves and reinvents itself. Presented films include unfinished productions that were put into a presentable shape later on, such as Gregory La Cava’s meta-movie comedy His Nibs from 1921 or Andrzej Munk and Witold Lesiewicz’s classic Pasażerka from 1963, as well as various attempts to creatively re-tell movie history. An example of the latter is the recently created version of Terry Ramsaye and Otto Nelson’s Thirty Years of Motion Pictures (The March of the Movies) (1927), which is probably the first comprehensive attempt to summarize the art of cinema. Or what to think of Rewizyta (2009), in which Krzysztof Zanussi has a young man meet figures from his earlier films played by the same actor as in the 1970s?

German Concentration Camp Factual Survey (2014) is an attempt of London’s Imperial War Museum to finish an unfinished film project using documents from the time, trying to come as close as possible to what the film would have looked liked if finished.

IFFR’s Laboratory of Unseen Beauty also features an exhibition entitled Temple of Cinema #1: Sayat Nova Outtakes, where we revisit Sergei Parajanov’s classic film The Colour of Pomegranates, or rather, its outtakes. Film restoration expert Daniel Bird presents never-before-seen unused material of this film in a thought-provoking setting in Arminius.

Several performances with live music round off this extraordinary adventure in appreciating cinema. See below for a list of films and one exhibition in Laboratory of Unseen Beauty. More may be added later.

  • Still: Maritime Climate

  • Still: Apple in the River

  • Still: Maritime Climate

Films in Laboratory of Unseen Beauty:

  • Âmes de fous, Germaine Dulac, 1918, France

  • Apple in the River, Aivars Freimanis, 1974, Latvia

  • The Better Way Back to the Soil, Hirakawa Youki, 2017, Japan

  • Dark Blood, George Sluizer, 2012, USA

  • German Concentration Camp Factual Survey, 2014, UK

  • His Nibs, Gregory La Cava, 1921, USA

  • Kino im Kopf, Michael Glawogger, 1996, Austria

  • Maritime Climate, Rolands Kalniņš, 1974, Latvia

  • Mixed Nuts, James Parrott, 1922, USA

  • Pasażerka, Andrzej Munk/Witold Lesiewicz, 1963, Poland

  • Pierre Schoendoerffer. La Peine des hommes, Laurent Roth, 2017, France

  • Le psychodrame, Roberto Rossellini, 1956, Italy

  • Rewizyta, Krzysztof Zanussi, 2009, Poland

  • Sea of Lost Time, Gurvindar Singh, 2019, India, world premiere

  • Soy tóxico, Pablo Parés/Daniel de la Vega, 2018, Argentina

  • Thirty Years of Motion Pictures (The March of the Movies), Terry Ramsaye/Otto Nelson, 1927, USA

Exhibition in Arminius:

  • Temple of Cinema #1: Sayat Nova Outtakes, curated by Daniel Bird, 2019

Photo in header: Still: Apple in the River