Les Statues Meurent Aussi (Statues Also Die)

“When men die, they enter history. When statues die, they enter art. This botany of death is what we call culture.” So begins the commentary of this remarkable French documentary (1953, 30 min.) about African sculpture, directed by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais and shot by Ghislain Cloquet. It’s the first major work for all of these artists (though it comes five years after Resnais’ Van Gogh, which won him his only Oscar to date); the beauty and anger of Marker’s text are perfectly matched by Resnais’ exquisite editing and Cloquet’s piercing images. A poetic meditation on how we perceive, exploit, and sometimes destroy other cultures, this is essential viewing, though it’s rarely been seen in its complete form–the French government suppressed its final reel, a blistering attack on colonialism, for almost 40 years. Also on the program is Sans Soleil (1982, 100 min.), one of Marker’s greatest feature-length film essays. Screening by DVD projection as part of the Select Media Festival (see sidebar in Galleries & Museums). a Sun 10/22, 5 PM, Select Media Festival headquarters, 3219 S. Morgan, 773-837-0145.

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