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Narrative, and its Construction @ AFS

Narrative, and its Construction @ AFS

Chale Nafus, Director of Programming at the Austin Film Society, is the man behind many excellent screenings in Austin. Personally, I’m really excited about the latest installment of the regular “Essential Cinema Series.” For the next six weeks, Austinites will get to explore what AFS is dubbing “De/Re:Constructing the Narrative Global Experiments in Film.” There are seven films in the series, and its such a rich topic, there could be seventeen more if space allowed. Chale describes the series:

“Following up on our ‘Shattering the Narrative’ series last summer, during which we looked at structural experiments in European cinema of the 1960s, this new series will examine recent films which explore untraditional modes of telling a story cinematically. Contemporary directors have a wealth of techniques with which to facilitate their experiments – jump cuts, a succession of quick shots, handheld or remotely operated cameras, digital effects, and freestyle editing, all of which can disorient the viewer spatially and temporally, challenge the mind, and remove the lockstep succession of events through chronological time. Bits and pieces of visual information become shards of mosaic tiles to be placed into a complex, yet eventually understandable, pattern. For this series, we have chosen films from all over the globe in order to demonstrate that such spatial/temporal experiments have become a universal endeavor with some amazing success stories.”

Among some of the highlights are Hong Sangsoo’s Woman is the Future of Man, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, and Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. A title I’m looking forward to is Gyorgy Palfi’s Hukkle, coincindentally screening only a few weeks after I saw the premiere of his next film, Taxidermia, at Cannes. I haven’t seen Hukkle yet, but look forward to it. The full schedule of the remaining films in the series, according to the official site:

6/20 HUKKLE
6/27 ELEPHANT
7/11 WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN
7/18 SEX AND LUCIA
7/25 IRREVERSIBLE

If AFS ever does an encore of this motif (again, with contemporary titles), I would instantly recommend Christoffer Boe’s Reconstruction, James Fotopoulos’ Migrating Forms, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, just about any Lars von Trier film, Mike Figgis’ Timecode, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., Roger Avary’s The Rules of Attraction, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s American Splendor, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and probably Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel (or even 21 Grams), as well. There is also a wide assortment of contemporary Russian and African films that would fit in, too, but almost too many to even scratch the surface here (the roots of both film communities are almost entirely based on the idea of unique narrative construction). Can you tell this is a subject I think about a lot?

And, while its significantly older than any of the above, you’d have to include Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon… it practically pioneered the narrative de/re:construction for film. A total guilty pleasure: Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day, which doesn’t entirely fit the criteria, but is an awesome feat to appreciate as a narrative exercise. In other words, this is a big area of film study, and thank god a cinema series is appreciating it.

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