two films for voice and image
Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver)
1979, 35mm b&w film, live subtitles, 48 mins
Aurélia Steiner (Melbourne)
1979, 16mm colour film, live subtitles, 27 mins
Tuesday 24th February 2015, 6.45pm
Ciné Lumière, London
Followed by a dialogue to discuss Duras’s film work between poet, writer &
critic Sophie Mayer and artist Jonathan Whitehall.
Marguerite Duras was a celebrated pillar of modernist French writing – above
all perhaps for Moderato Cantabile, her superb novel of 1958, or L’amant
(The Lover), her memoir of 1984.
But she also made distinctive, experimental, intensely authored films,
notably India Song of 1975. Her extraordinary and wonderful screenplay for
Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour in 1959 earned her an Oscar nomination –
astonishing for such a peerless exercise in rigorous high-brow intention. In
her films Duras often detaches voice from the image, an effect that opens a
space for the creation of prayerful, meditative moods.
And when the images are created with the help of cinematographer Pierre
Lhomme, as they are in these two Aurélia Steiner films, the result is
extraordinary – work that casts an incantatory spell, in which we experience
a state, perhaps, of waking dream.
Who is Aurélia Steiner?
Aurélia Steiner may have existed, may have lived, may have spoken. In these
films, we hear Duras (thankfully so in these French language prints we will
screen) addressing someone, maybe us all, or maybe someone in particular.
Duras has indicated that these films, the texts spoken, began a letter
written to an acquaintance, and that this mode of addressing, appealing to
an absent other, produces a stance that slips between narrative fiction and
non-fiction, always coherently. And this gave her a way to write of the
unwritable: the European catastrophe – the Shoah. These films slip between
fiction, autobiography, quotation, impersonation. Aurélia Steiner is name,
is a subject with a past or pasts> We probably cannot envisage her – though
we end able to envisage the rupture of Jewish lives and histories. But there
is too love, love and desire. To love is to lose self, or to gain a self.
But the question raised, that even the sea’s vastness cannot wash away, is
whether anything be made whole, after what has happened? Even architecture
and landscape and horizons are charged memorials and reminders.
Vancouver is screening in the UK for the first time, and translated (by
Charlotte Maconochie) and subtitled for the first time in English.
Melbourne is freshly translated (by Adam Roberts).
The films will be followed by a dialogue between Sophie Mayer and Jonathan
Sophie Mayer is the author of The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love
(Wallflower, 2009) and Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (IB
Tauris, 2015), as well as several collections of poetry. She is currently a
lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary University London, a member of queer
feminist film curators Club des Femmes, and a regular contributor to Sight &
Sound and The F-Word.
Jonathan Whitehall is an artist whose practice explores temporality and
desire. He completed his PhD by practice at the Royal College of Art,
writing on the work of Duras; his article L’Image menaceé: Trois moments d’
Aurélia Steiner, was published in Photographies (Routledge). Working
principally with video, drawing and photography, Whitehall’s work is
informed by psychoanalytical theories of fantasy and subjectivity. He has
exhibited internationally, most recently in /seconds, at Sharjah Art
Foundation, Sharjah. His most recent publication is a collaboration with the
artist Peter Fillingham, co-writing an article entitled Beyond Language: At
the Seams of Seduction, in Derek Jarman Super 8, Ed. James Mackay, (Thames
and Hudson). He currently teaches on the BA Fine Art, at Sir John Cass
Department of Art, Media and Design, London Metropolitan University.
A Nos Amours is delighted to partner with Ciné Lumière for this special
With thanks to L’Institut français in Paris and London, Centre Pompidou,
and to Michèle Kastner & Jean Mascolo at Benoît Jacob.
A Nos Amours is a collective founded by film-makers Joanna Hogg and Adam
Roberts dedicated to programming over-looked, under-exposed or especially
potent cinema. A Nos Amours is a moveable feast that goes wherever and
whenever opportunities arise. A Nos Amours invites film-makers and others to
advocate and present films that they admire or would like to see on a big
screen. A Nos Amours believes in the value of watching film as a shared