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52nd edition from May 13 to 23, 2020

Operai, contadini

Fortnight 2001, Feature film, 2h03

Synopsis

« Meeting: an assembly or gathering of people; the act or process of coming together; the length and circumstances of such an encounter. Note: implies a common social purpose… » (Dictionary) A group of men and women of all ages have been brought together in the course of their travels after World War II, when Italy regained its national and territorial unity. They make up a primitive community which seeks to erase not only the distress created by the war but also the hardships of life and hunger, and to protect them from violence, misery and fear… Amid the ruins of this post-war period, these men and women build and invent new a rapport, both in their professional and daily lives, between themselves, between the sexes, between generations, between diverse social and geographical origins, between antagonistic political camps. The group maintains a « register », a kind of diary, as if it were entering the minutes of an inquiry or a trial.

Directors

Danièle Huillet

Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet form one of the few husband-and-wife production teams of any real consequence or true equality. Together they have created some of the most demanding and interesting films of the 1960s and 70s, beginning in 1963 with their short film « Machorka-Muff/Majorka Muff »). Straub ran a local cineclub in his birthplace of Metz, and later worked in various assistant capacities for such directors as Jean Renoir, Abel Gance and Robert Bresson, all of whom had an enormous influence on his work. He and Huillet met in 1954 in Paris and immediately became artistic partners. In 1958 Straub, fleeing conscription into the French armed forces, moved to Munich, Germany, with Huillet, and they soon became involved with radical theater groups in that city. Among Straub’s early collaborators was Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who appears as an actor in Straub’s short film, « The Bridegroom the Comedienne and the Pimp » (1968), which combines the story of the murder of a pimp (Fassbinder) with a drastically condensed theatrical piece and a lengthy tracking shot from an automobile of prostitutes plying their trade on an ill-lit German thoroughfare. Perhaps the couple’s most famous early film is « Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach » (1968), which the director shot on the actual locations of Joahnn Sebastian Bach’s life, featuring Gustav Maria Leonhardt, the renowned harpsichordist, as Bach, and instruments borrowed from various museums for a more accurate sound. The film almost collapsed before production: Straub insisted on recording all the sync-sound on location, eschewing the use of any post-dubbing, to get the most natural and authentic performances from the ensemble of excellent musicians he had assembled. This horrified the original backers, who withdrew their funding at the last moment. Jean-Luc Godard came through with emergency funding, but the film had to be shot in black-and-white rather than in color, which Straub would have preferred. Nevertheless, it was a surprise hit at the 1968 New York Film Festival and remains a stunning artistic achievement. In « Chronicle », as in all his works, Straub insisted upon lengthy takes, which were used virtually without editing in the final film; some shots of nearly ten minutes duration appear in « Chronicle ». Coupled with the use of natural lighted austere sets and subdued performances, this minimalist shooting technique results in a an extraordinary sense of « place, » as if one is watching the incidents of Bach’s life as they occur, rather than a re-creation of them. Other early successes include an adaptation of Heinrich Boll’s « Billiards at Half Past Nine », which became the astoundingly rich and perverse film, « Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules » (1965). By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Straub preferred to function more as a producer than a director; often working in 16mm film, Huillet and Straub created such films as « Othon » (1971), « History Lessons » (1972), « Moses and Aaron » (1975), and most recently « Class Relations » (1984), based on Franz Kafka’s « Amerika ». In all these films, Huillet and Straub demand a great deal from the viewer, refusing to create films of easy visual reconstruction. Given the proper attention, however, Straub-Huillet films remain among the most haunting and visually resonant of the German filmmaking renaissance. Certainly the two are worthy of wider appreciation, particularly in light of recent attention paid to the works of Fassbinder and Wim Wenders.

Jean-Marie Straub

Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet form one of the few husband-and-wife production teams of any real consequence or true equality. Together they have created some of the most demanding and interesting films of the 1960s and 70s, beginning in 1963 with their short film « Machorka-Muff/Majorka Muff »). Straub ran a local cineclub in his birthplace of Metz, and later worked in various assistant capacities for such directors as Jean Renoir, Abel Gance and Robert Bresson, all of whom had an enormous influence on his work. He and Huillet met in 1954 in Paris and immediately became artistic partners. In 1958 Straub, fleeing conscription into the French armed forces, moved to Munich, Germany, with Huillet, and they soon became involved with radical theater groups in that city. Among Straub’s early collaborators was Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who appears as an actor in Straub’s short film, « The Bridegroom the Comedienne and the Pimp » (1968), which combines the story of the murder of a pimp (Fassbinder) with a drastically condensed theatrical piece and a lengthy tracking shot from an automobile of prostitutes plying their trade on an ill-lit German thoroughfare. Perhaps the couple’s most famous early film is « Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach » (1968), which the director shot on the actual locations of Joahnn Sebastian Bach’s life, featuring Gustav Maria Leonhardt, the renowned harpsichordist, as Bach, and instruments borrowed from various museums for a more accurate sound. The film almost collapsed before production: Straub insisted on recording all the sync-sound on location, eschewing the use of any post-dubbing, to get the most natural and authentic performances from the ensemble of excellent musicians he had assembled. This horrified the original backers, who withdrew their funding at the last moment. Jean-Luc Godard came through with emergency funding, but the film had to be shot in black-and-white rather than in color, which Straub would have preferred. Nevertheless, it was a surprise hit at the 1968 New York Film Festival and remains a stunning artistic achievement. In « Chronicle », as in all his works, Straub insisted upon lengthy takes, which were used virtually without editing in the final film; some shots of nearly ten minutes duration appear in « Chronicle ». Coupled with the use of natural lighted austere sets and subdued performances, this minimalist shooting technique results in a an extraordinary sense of « place, » as if one is watching the incidents of Bach’s life as they occur, rather than a re-creation of them. Other early successes include an adaptation of Heinrich Boll’s « Billiards at Half Past Nine », which became the astoundingly rich and perverse film, « Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules » (1965). By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Straub preferred to function more as a producer than a director; often working in 16mm film, Huillet and Straub created such films as « Othon » (1971), « History Lessons » (1972), « Moses and Aaron » (1975), and most recently « Class Relations » (1984), based on Franz Kafka’s « Amerika ». In all these films, Huillet and Straub demand a great deal from the viewer, refusing to create films of easy visual reconstruction. Given the proper attention, however, Straub-Huillet films remain among the most haunting and visually resonant of the German filmmaking renaissance. Certainly the two are worthy of wider appreciation, particularly in light of recent attention paid to the works of Fassbinder and Wim Wenders.

Aldo Fruttuosi
Andrea Balducci
Angela Durantini
Angela Nugara
Giampaolo Cassarino
Martina Gionfriddo
Rosalba Curatola
Vittorio Vigneri

Screenplay
Jean-Marie Straub, inspiré d’Elio Vittorini

Image
Renato Berta, Jean-Paul Toraille, Marion Befve

Sound
Jean-Pierre Duret, Dimitri Haulet, Jean-Pierre Laforce

Editing
Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub

Production :
Danièle Huillet et Jean-Marie Straub (Italie) 

Maurice Tinchant et Martine Marignac
Pierre Grise Productions
52 rue Charlot
75003 Paris, France
tél. : 33 (0)1 40 27 99 06
fax : 33 (0)1 40 27 97 16
pierre-grise-productions@wanadoo.fr 

Vente à l’’étranger :
Pierre Grise Productions 

Distribution :
Pierre Grise Distribution
21 avenue du Maine
75015 Paris, France
tél. : 33 (0)1 45 44 20 45
fax : 33 (0)1 45 44 00 40
tinchant@free.fr 

Presse :
Maurice Tinchant
tél. : 33 (0)1 45 44 20 45
fax : 33 (0)1 45 44 00 40
tinchant@free.fr

Title in Original Version : Ouvriers, paysans