Film by Jonas Mekas
Totes les cartes
A Letter to José Luis
The creators of ‘The Complete Letters’ (Totes les cartes) began the project with a simple goal: to assemble pairs of directors from opposite parts of the globe to each film their ideas about the struggle to cinematically capture one’s homeland, and then send those recordings to their partner.
The filmed ‘epistles’, as they are aptly called thanks to their intimate, confessional quality, were then exchanged and responded to in kind. Filmic epistle for filmic epistle, over and over again. The directors included in this exhibition are among the best and most prominent chroniclers of public space working today—from José Luis Guerin in Barcelona to Jonas Mekas in New York, Victor Erice in Madrid and Abbas Kiarostami in Tehran; Albert Serra in Banyoles to Lisandro Alonso in Buenos Aires.
The resultant films represent two things: firstly, an open, respectful, and sincere dialogue between film-makers about their environmental differences and its effect upon their film-making; and secondly, the discovery for the viewer that geographical diversity is a superficial distinction for film-makers.
In this exhibition the simultaneous and juxtaposed presentation of the films may seem a bit daunting from a purely sensory perspective, but the overall experience is not chaotic at all. It’s actually quite synthesised. The viewer, over the course of one of these filmic dialogues, begins to see shared ideas of place through recapitulated images and stylistic homage. While each film-maker may capture vastly different patrias (homelands), Totes les cartes shows the viewer how they all ultimately work on the same wavelength, how they borrow ideas about filming their homeland from each other.
For anyone who’s watched En construcción, José Luis Guerín’s visceral 2001 documentary on the gentrification of the Raval, this exhibition is a great opportunity to see how his unique style of discreet, specific journalistic approach to filming Barcelona inspires Jonas Mekas, a Lithuanian-born New Yorker filming New York. Shared visions of environment emerge and we discover a “film continent” occupied by film-makers where disparate places symbolise similar feelings and traditions, and superficial differences fall away.
The viewer becomes a traveller, drawing conclusions about the way we interact with our homelands—and those places that we have come to call home—where we find our identities.
CCCB, October 12th until February 19th, 2012. www.cccb.org