The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced plans to present Art of the Real, a new documentary-as-art series to take place April 11-26. Formerly a monthly series highlighting independent documentary at the Film Society, Art of the Real is being relaunched as an annual nonfiction showcase founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The complete lineup will be announced next month.
The inaugural edition of Art of the Real will feature new work from around the world alongside retrospective selections by both known and unjustly forgotten filmmakers. In keeping with the emergence of documentary as a primary mode of art making, it also includes work that has typically played out in galleries and art-world contexts rather than in cinemas, or that has forged connections between both worlds.
The documentary tradition ranges far and wide: from Dziga Vertov’s kino-eyes and Robert Flaherty’s ethnographic portraits to Chantal Akerman’s globe-trotting reveries and Werner Herzog’s ecstatic truths, taking in essay films and travel diaries, fiction hybrids and genre-defying whatsits, autobiography and agitprop. Art of the Real will be a platform for filmmakers and artists who have given us a wider view of nonfiction cinema and at the same time brought the form full circle, back to its early, boundary-pushing days.
Raya Martin and Mark Peranson’s LA ÚLTIMA PELICULA, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, will be the opening film for the 2014 Art of the Real. This documentary within a narrative—and vice versa—about a grandiose filmmaker (Alex Ross Perry, THE COLOR WHEEL) scouting locations in Mexico on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse—engages with the impending death of celluloid through a veritable cyclone of film and video formats, genres, modes, and methods.
The closing film, Robert Greene’s ACTRESS, which will have its World Premiere at the upcoming True/False Film Festival is a documentary that feels like intimate melodrama. Brandy Burre had a recurring role on HBO’s The Wire when she gave it up to start a family. Greene’s riveting film follows her bumpy return to work, though it’s never clear at what level this film may simply be the next role. Greene and Burre will attend the screening.
Additional highlights include a retrospective of film and audio works from the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SWEETGRASS, MANAKAMANA), with a carte blanche selection of films that have inspired SEL makers, including work by Jean Rouch and Jana Ševčíková.