Milan-based duo Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi create an astonishing work of militant poetry with this found-footage chronicle of Mussolini's brutal invasion of Ethiopia.
Angela Ricci Lucchi, Yervant Gianikian
Milano-based duo Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have created an incomparable documentary oeuvre consisting of over forty films, whose rare beauty and integrity set them apart. Working at the intersections of history, the archive, ready mades and re-animation, their films are comprised of found footage mesmerizingly manipulated in order to give it new life and meaning: spectral apparitions that exhume forgotten and often shameful historical trespasses as they evocatively illuminate our own era.
Several years in the making, Pays Barbare chronicles the brutal Italian conquest in Africa — specifically, the violent attempts at subjugating Ethiopia — under the dictatorial rule of Mussolini. Told in chapters, the film employs footage — much of it amateur ethnography, both beautiful and terrifying, taken from private and anonymous archives — that is tinted, toned, slowed, and re-edited. A reflection on filmic material (its propagandistic use, notably the eroticized portrait of colonialism, but also its literal material, like deteriorating celluloid), as well as the image of dictatorship, imperialist conquests and the "new"man, Pays Barbare is an astonishing work of militant poetry.
With its plangent tone, and personal
address, the film is an indictment of the
filmmakers' country (reversing the notion of
"barbaric") and a lamentation for a contemporary
culture with an amnesiac's memory.
In the words of Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi,
Pays Barbare is "for us, an urgent film on
fascism. Our work is a struggle against violence
and war. Sometimes we wonder why
we continue to fight but Italy is currently
undergoing changes that upset and astonish
us." Though internationally celebrated and
steadfast in their practice as political artists,
their work is too little seen in North America.
(Their last appearance at the Festival was in
1987.) Don't miss this rare opportunity.