The short film Sunday in Peking will precede the screening of Sans Soleil
Sunday in Peking (Dimanche à Pékin) (1956)
Director: Chris Marker
Runtime: 19 minutes
Language: French with English subtitles
“All this is as remote as China and as familiar as Hyde Park. Against this background of past splendour, in the avenues of this Mongol Versailles, one wonders about both past and future.”
– Chris Marker in Sunday in Peking
Sunday in Peking is a complex melange of quasi-ethnography, essay film, literature and photography that depicts the textures, spectacle and habits of pedestrian life in Beijing, China. Replete with diaryistic observations, this short film is Marker’s childhood fantasy in flux, as he wrangles the present against the past, projected memory against terrestrial reality, and his role as a cultural outsider and broker.
In collaboration with French New Wave composer Georges Delerue who provided the lilting orchestral score and Agnès Varda who is credited as a ‘sinological consultant’, Marker’s first independently-produced film captures the Chinese metropolis only six years after its establishment as the People’s Republic with fractured projections of romanticism and utopia.
Sans Soleil (1983)
Director: Chris Marker
Runtime: 104 minutes
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene and Nudity)
BFI Awards 1983
OCIC AWARD HONOURABLE MENTION
Berlin IFF 1983
“And even without original sin this earthly paradise may be a paradise lost.”
– Narrator in Sans Soleil
Simultaneously a free-associative travelogue, an intimate exchange of letters between old friends, and a projection of collective fictional memory, Sans Soleil is a tour de force that meditates on the camera’s domesticating gaze. As a cameraman roams through distant lands (Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, San Francisco, but mostly Tokyo), ruminations of the function of memory, spirituality, death, and the camera’s gaze are read by an unseen female recipient. Instead of presenting a monolithic historical account, Marker oscillates between perspectives, inviting a discourse on the dialectic between: the camera and subject, the real and imagined, the self and other, and the West and ‘the rest’ through hypnotic images.
Through a microscopic approach to the mundane, Marker draws our attention to the tropes that frame perception and the recording of events, themselves inextricably rooted in the documentarist’s impulse to familiarise the unknown. Materialised in Tokyo’s Shinto shrines, crowded trains and subterranean malls, Sans Soleil enters an unstable interpretive mode that deconstructs the illusion of omniscience embedded in most narrative accounts, revealing the disorientation that arises with any attempt to flatten time and space through the recorded image.
The full Orienting Paradise: Western Projections of the East programme can be found here. Tickets will go on sale Friday, 25 March 2022.
Friends of AFA members may select the “Friends of AFA” option and enter your membership number if you wish to redeem your remaining complimentary tickets.
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