During the month of June Filmatique presents The Creation of Meaning, a documentary series portraying photographers, chefs, and filmmakers at work—focusing on the act of creation.
Richard Press' gentle and moving portrait of the celebrated street-fashion photographer Bill Cunningham New York doubles as a study on the changing city itself, and a life unadorned by material pursuits. Tracing the process of a man singularly committed to his craft, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress chronicles the last days of famed restaurant El Bulli, while The Five Obstructions documents the re-making of Jørgen Leth's classic short film The Perfect Human through a maddening maze of obstacles imposed by his former student Lars von Trier. Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film inscribes small acts of resistance in the fabric of quotidian existence, as he remains enclosed within the confines of his Tehran apartment.
Spanning diverse cinematic approaches and a range of mediums themselves, Filmatique's Creation of Meaning series documents the multitudinous modes of collaboration, creativity and labor that underpin aesthetic pursuits, nuancing the genesis and creation of art.
Bill Cunningham: New York, Richard Press / USA, 2010
Perched on his Schwinn bicycle, a camera hanging from his neck, photographer Bill Cunningham roams the streets of New York snapping stills of unassuming passerby, if the look is right. Despite decades of work for the New York Times' style sections 'On the Street' and 'Evening Hours' Cunningham remains ill-at-ease in social situations, especially the high society soirées populated by those who love him best. At the end of each day Cunningham retreats to his monastic studio in Carnegie Hall, hoping to return unseen to Manhattan's avenues and alleyways in search of an individual with flair.
Doubling as a cartography of the ever-changing city, Bill Cunningham New York portrays the secluded pioneer of street fashion with grace and heart. Richard Press' feature documentary debut premiered at Abu Dhabi, where it won Best First Documentary; Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, where it won the Audience Awards; and Nantucket, where it won Best Storytelling in a Documentary.
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, Gereon Wetzel / Germany, 2011
For many years, Catalan chef Ferran Adrià ran the best restaurant in the world. Tucked away in a small cove a few hours north of Barcelona, El Bulli prepared some of the most daring and innovative dishes in contemporary cuisine, harnessing state-of-the-art molecular gastronomy techniques alongside an intuitive approach to flavor profiles. To make way for a culinary institute, however, in July of 2011 the restaurant served its final meal.
Chronicling the process behind El Bulli's last season, filmmaker Gereon Wetzel traces the collaborative efforts of Adrià and his team of chefs on an exhilarating journey toward creating the perfect menu. El Bulli: Work in Progress premiered at Hot Docs, IDFA - Amsterdam, MoMA Documentary Fortnight and Visions du Reél.
The Five Obstructions, Lars von Trier / Denmark-Switzerland-Belgium-France, 2003
In 1967, prominent Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth directed The Perfect Human, a beguiling short film in which a man and woman pace around a white room as if they were subjects in a zoo. Nearly four decades later contemporary cinema's enfant terrible Lars von Trier challenges his former mentor to re-make this classic short, but with a catch— each version is constrained by a new obstacle.
Probing the boundaries of the two Danes' filmmaking prowess and the ethics of documentary filmmaking itself, The Five Obstructions mobilizes Dogme 95's anti-commercial tenets to excavate the process of creation under increasing duress. The Five Obstructions premiered at Venice, Mar del Plata, CPH:PIX, Göteborg, Sheffield, Tallinn Black Nights and Motovun, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize.
This Is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi / Iran, 2011
Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been banned from making films for twenty years, and is currently under house-arrest awaiting sentencing for his anti-regime activities. He calls his collaborator Mojtaba Mirtahmasb on the phone and talks about not making movies, drinks tea, and plays with his daughter's iguana. All the while he films himself not making films with a commercial-grade HD camera and his iPhone, being sure not to call 'cut.' When Panahi steps onto his balcony as the sun sets across Tehran, its streetlights glitter in the distance.
Depicting the day-to-day life of one of Iran's most celebrated filmmakers, This Is Not a Film is a powerful testament to the malleability of artistic expression and the resilience needed to survive under systems of oppression. Smuggled into Cannes on a USB drive hidden inside a birthday cake, Panahi's non-film premiered at Mar del Plata, New York, Dubai, where it won the Muhr AsiaAfrica Award for Best Documentary; and Sofia, where it won the UNESCO Award for Best Documentary.