Article NL EN

For twenty-five years, there was fascist ossification and inbreeding, the heyday of a couple of genres that provided an utterly distorted picture of reality, or rather, that regarded the very dialogue with reality as superfluous. In a grandiose gesture of liberation, these self-sufficient diagrams of comedies and dramas are dismissed. Suddenly, reality itself becomes visible.

note EN

In times of social distancing, cinema visits, alone or collectively, are not allowed. Luckily, there’s an abundance of films to stream online, often for free. We listed up some initiatives.

Article FR EN
Assia Djebar 1994
Translated by

Tonight would have been the opening night of the Courtisane Festival in Ghent. Due to the COVID virus, the organizers of the festival were forced to cancel entirely, including the first part of the Out of the Shadows programme. On the occasion of this programme, Courtisane, Sabzian and KASK School of Arts joined efforts to compile an accompanying publication, focussing on the work of five Arab female film directors: Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, Selma Baccar, Assia Djebar, Jocelyne Saab and Heiny Srour. As the actual release is unclear at the moment, Sabzian publishes a first text from the publication, by the Algerian filmmaker and writer Assia Djebar (1936-2015). “For me, cinema is neither a “job” – in the sense of a career – nor a “vocation” – in the sense of a calling. What is it, then, for me, having made my first film shortly after the age of forty, then a second one shortly after the age of forty-five?”

Article NL FR EN
André Bazin 1947
Translated by

André Bazin is sometimes called “the inventor of film criticism”. Entire generations of film critics and filmmakers, especially those associated with the Nouvelle Vague, are indebted to his writings on film. Film opens a “window on the world”, according to Bazin. His writings would also be important for the development of the auteur theory. Bazin: “You need to see the ghostly ballet of “rotifers” in a drop of water or the underhand and implacable struggle of white blood cells against bacteria to have an idea of the plastic as well as dramatic possibilities of cinema.”

Article NL FR EN

125 years ago, on March 22nd, 1895, the first film in history was projected for a crowd of about ten people. During a special gathering in the Société d’Encouragement à l’Industrie Nationale, Louis Lumière projected his first film: Sortie des ouvriers de l’usine de Monplaisir. On the occasion of this 125th birthday, Sabzian is publishing a series of translated fragments from Histoire du cinématographe: de ses origines à nos jours (1925) by Georges-Michel Coissac, where, amongst other things, the author narrates the history of these marvellous first film screenings. “And we thought: Messrs. Lumière are great magicians.”

Article NL

De krantenkoppen prijzen herhaaldelijk de manier waarop Girls en Fleabag moedig nieuw feministisch terrein hebben ontgonnen, alsof de geschiedenis van het westerse feminisme al niet getekend werd door het verheffen van witte hogeremiddenklassestemmen tot een onverdiend universeel niveau. Politiek wordt nauwelijks behandeld, aan de kant geschoven ten voordele van krantenkopvriendelijke, betuttelende modewoorden inzake “generationele kwesties”. (...) Dit is niet bedoeld als een aanklacht tegen deze werken, noch als een suggestie dat er iets “fout” is met de personages. We mogen van kunst niet eisen de wereld af te beelden zoals we die graag zouden zien. Het probleem is dat zovelen van ons een verhaal van radicale zelfemancipatie zien waar er geen is.

Article NL EN

For poverty, as Renzo Martens concedes to the Congolese en passant, is not merely a curse but “a gift given for the better understanding of life;” so it is worthwhile to give this gift to the World. Subsequently, the blacks are no longer simply beggars, but proud bearers of a gift that renders an “emotional service” to those privileged enough to belong to the World. And this is what, in simple terms, RM shares with the Africans in awe of his panel of neon letters “ENJOY please POVERTY”: “the experience of your suffering makes me a better person. You’re really doing me a favour, merci beaucoup.” 

Article NL

Ik moet zeggen dat de besprekingen en interpretaties van professionele critici, ook al waren ze lovend over mijn werk, mij veelal teleurstelden. Maar al te vaak kreeg ik de indruk dat mijn werk hen in wezen onverschillig liet, of dat ze niet bij machte waren mijn films vanuit hun directe beleving te beschrijven en daarom telkens weer hun toevlucht namen tot de clichés van de filmjournalistiek. Ik begreep pas voor wie ik dit werk eigenlijk deed wanneer ik toeschouwers ontmoette die onder de indruk waren van mijn films, of als ik brieven las van volstrekt onbekende mensen die mij openhartig over hun leven vertelden. Alleen dan voelde ik me werkelijk begrepen, en werd ik me bewust van mijn roeping, mijn plicht en verantwoordelijkheid.

Samengesteld door

In samenwerking met Goethe Institut Brussel publiceert Sabzian voor het eerst een tiental Nederlandse vertalingen van de Duitse filmcritica Frieda Grafe, de “Königin der deutschen Filmpublizistik”. Grafe noemde haar kritieken treffend “beschreven films” omdat ze zich concentreerde op het voor de lezer inzichtelijk en levendig maken van haar manier van kijken naar films. Haar stukken trachtten de wereld van een film voor de lezer open te vouwen, doorzichtig te maken. “Ik probeer de algemene kleur van een film voor de lezer te reconstrueren uit mijn indrukken en inzichten om hem of haar zelf tot conclusies of veronderstellingen te brengen.”


Sabzian was invited by the Belgian music label STROOM to contribute to their radio show at The Word Radio.

From the Archive

Conversation NL FR

« Mon cinéma dit mon désir de voir, d'approcher l'autre, de le connaître. L'acte de filmer ce n'est pas faire un film, devenir célèbre, gagner beaucoup d'argent. Ce n'est même pas s'exprimer, exprimer des sentiments et des idées, simplement un acte d'amour : c'est faire l'amour. »

Conversation EN
Julien Gester 2012
Translated by

In He Fengming [Fengming: A Chinese Memoir] (2007) Wang Bing recorded in barely one take He Fengming’s startling testimony of the persecutions that she and her family endured throughout the Anti-Rightist Movement and the Cultural Revolution in China. “I wanted to assure her the most ample freedom of speaking. The core of the film has been shot during one afternoon. Fengming was 76 years old, she’s a woman who entirely lives in the past, in her memory. In fact, it seemed correct to make an immobile film, a ‘talking heads’ film and I did not want to stage anything else. It’s about understanding her for who she is: a spectral woman locked up in the past, wandering about in an apartment that has been reduced to a tomb.”

Article NL FR EN

What are we referring to when we speak of the world march of the cinemas, that indispensable figment of statistics? An individual sitting in a seat, in a hall. Multiply him by quite a few millions and what do you get more than the same spectator in the plural? Unconscious of his statistical importance his dreams depend obstinately on the old human scale. No super-screen will make him a superman. He is no giant, he is only numerous.