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.

Wavelengths

Pays Barbare

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.

ANDRÉA PICARD

Screenings

Mon Sep 09

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Regular
2:30pm
Tue Sep 10

Scotiabank 9

Industry
11:45am
Wed Sep 11

Jackman Hall

Regular
6:30pm
Sun Sep 15

Scotiabank 8

Regular
9:30am