onsdag den 28. oktober 2009

Leth receives 'Contribution to the world cinema award' in Jihlava

Yesterday, October 27th 2009, Jorgen Leth was honored at the opening ceremony of the prestigious 13th Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival in Czech Republic. Jorgen received a life-time achievement award for his 'contribution to the world cinema'.
Leth is in Jihlava as a member of this year's jury. During his stay, he will do a master class on his methods of filming and also a reading of a selected part of his memoirs, 'The Imperfect Human', uniquely accompanied by brand new photographs from his current work in progress, the film 'The Erotic Human'.
For the Danish Film Institute's comment on Jorgen's award, click here
For more information on Leth's masterclass, please go to docalliance.com

onsdag den 21. oktober 2009

Simpson, Toksvig and Leth at the old theatre in Nørrebro

One dark week in October 2009, Jørgen Leth joined forces with the magical musical wizard Mikael Simpson and his multi-talented crew of high-profile Danish musicians. At a completely sold out venue in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, Leth freestyled his way through numerous different topics, thus creating little pieces of spoken word poetry accompanied by the hypnotic sounds of Simpson and crew. Some of the pieces were live interpretations of scores from the successful album, "Vi sidder bare her", while others (like in the video clip below) were entirely new.

For a review of the concert, please check out Gaffa


mandag den 19. oktober 2009

Diary from Erotic Man shooting in Paris 2

Photographer: Adam Philp
In half an hour, I am going to meet a film director called Nikolas Feifer at Hotel La Villa Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He is here to interview Adam and me about our working together as director and photographer. It's a good topic. I think I work very differently with my photographer from what is the norm in Danish filmmaking. I like my photographer to work creatively and contribute with ideas about how to narrate a particular scene. A couple of weeks ago, Adam suggested that we film through a glass plate in order to create a double picture when I talk to Dorothie. He's shown me examples of what you can acchieve with this method, and I think it looks intriguing. So I've given green light to that experiment. What I also like about this method is the fact that it feels like reinventing a really old method, something along the lines of Ole John's double exposure by rolling the film back through the camera when shooting the film, Motion Picture.
Now we've been to Dorothie's tiny flat on Montparnasse, shooting the whole conversation in different set-ups using the glass plate. It looks fantastic. It is somewhat touching to be able to have both parties of the conversation in the same reflector picture, and I think it fits perfectly with the fact that this is a conversation taking place after an 11-year-long break between us. It's also a scene which will set the frame for the very closely framed love scene which we recorded back then in Jacmel, Haiti, with Dorothie's face constantly within the frame of the picture.
Dorothie was wonderful today. So sincere, so full of optimism and humour which has always been her survival force through difficult periods of time. I am deeply impressed by her gaining a foothold in Paris. She now has a long-term visa as a political refugee (based on a wild story), and she has the same rights as permanent residents of France: healthcare, benefits etc. She's started a small business, providing beauty culture in her own home, and she struggles to pay the rent. Fortunately she has a boyfriend, a young French musician who doesn't earn a lot of money but who likes her and helps her out in her everyday life.
Today, she talked a lot about our time together, about what she got out of being with me, her true feelings, her gratitude. For me, it was very touching. She described her feelings about our lovemaking being filmed. She felt good about that. She forgot all about the presence of the camera, she just felt good, and also she agreed to do it because she understood that I "wanted to show how much you loved me in a beautiful film about love". I couldn't have wished for a better interpretation of that scene which I have always thought of as being both artisticly and intellectually bold. Due to its authenticity, I believe that this particular scene will be a very important element in the film, that is the defining point of the story where the anthropologist can't keep his distance to his subject and burns up in the act of love.
Dorothie is proud of having been able to take the leap from being poor in Haiti to a modest life in Paris. The only worry she keeps referring to is the fact that she doesn't earn enough money to support her mother and her little sister. Her mother is giving her a hard time, expecting her (as most Haitian families with sons or daughters abroad) to send money back home to cover the expenses of everyday life necessities. Dorothie often mentions how proud she is of never having prostituted herself in order to survive. She has her own plan, her own pride, and a will power which I can only admire. She just manages to pull through. And she still looks great.

Diary from Erotic Man shooting in Paris 1

Sunday, late night. We've had dinner at Restaurant Christine in Rue Christine. Afterwards, we sit in a café corner, talking. We see two young girls, one of them reminding us of Mona Lisa. Adam is fascinated by her and wants to photograph her. I say: 'so go and aks her'. He has to gain a bit of courage for that but finally he does it. I can see them listening to him. I approach them.
Monday night. We go to mk2 at Quai de Loire. There are two mk2 cinemas, one on each side of the channel. I remember in which one I met Makena. We sit at a café across the channel, waiting for the lights to dim and the street-lights to be switched on. Chantal joins us. Later, Anne Lescot and her (and David Belle's) son join us. We sit and talk. Anne leaves. Chantal stays and keeps an eye on Adam's bag while we get started. I am to walk along the bank, over a foot-bridge, past a fountain, underneath a vaulted passageway on the other bank towards the café. Adam makes stop motion pictures of me walking, thus creating a narrative with the help of his new fantastic camera. After being granted permission to film inside, I enter the café. I walk towards the table where I met Makena nine years ago. I sit down. Adam finishes the narrative in pictures. This is where we part. I take Chantal out for dinner in Rue Mabillon, Aux Charpentiers. Adam is meeting with the two English girls we met on Sunday night. One of them is Mona Lisa.
Tuesday. I look through Adam's photographs of the girls, taken Monday night on the bridge Pont des Arts which is the next one after Pont Neuf, crossing the Seine from Ile de Cité. A fantastic series of pictures, close to magic, the girls surrounded by gold, glittering contours, lines, water, buildings, passing diffuse cyclists. I come to think of the old impressionists. We don't want to hear what the girls are saying, just look at them not knowing what they talk about. Mona Lisa's name is Amelia, her friend with a hat, Artemis. Amelia's hair is scrutinized, her profile, her beautifully drawn mouth and chin. We have permission to get close, we thrive in the sense of permission. From one focus to another. The woman knows the photographer is watching, we are allowed to do so. She drinks a cup of coffee, we get to see her forehead. A profile of Mona Lisa on a bridge across the Seine. Eyebrows, eyes and the delicate skin. In a slightly larger frame, the street-lights on both sides of the river play along. Her hand on the railing. She has a firm grip and so she is in control of herself. Magic moments.

søndag den 4. oktober 2009

Det er derfor de knepper så meget i dette land

Photographer: Martin Bubandt
For the past six months, Jørgen Leth and author/journalist Morten Sabroe have written a series of mails to each other. Now their mail correspondence has been published under the provocative and intriguing title: Det er derfor de knepper så meget i dette land (this is why they fuck so much in this country) The two authors challenge eachother on different subjects, including women, erotism and guilt.
Read more about the publication, the authors and their mail correspondence in Politiken, Information and Jyllandsposten. The book is out in stories from the 5th of October. The two authors will meet at different live events, including Diamanten and Louisiana.

Photographer: Martin Bubandt

torsdag den 1. oktober 2009

The sixth box set

The DVD collection of Jørgen Leth's work is now complete. Today, 1st of October 2009, the sixth and final box set is out in stores.
The sixth box set contains Jørgen Leth's experimental films made in the 60s and early 70s. The director experiments with picture and sound, seeking new ways of cinematic expression.
The films on this box set are low budget productions with no real actors, shot on location with cheap equipment. Some of them are harsh in their critic of society, others are like surreal picture poems thought up as an alternative to the established cinematic language.
The box set contains the following films:
Stop for Bud / Look forward to a time of security / Near Heaven, Near Earth / Ophelia's flowers / The Deer Garden Film / Eddy Mercx in the vicinity of a cup of coffee / Composer Meets Quartet / The Search + extra material
All six box sets can be bought here