On the occasion of the publication of film scholar Ivone Margulies’s remarkable new book, “In Person: Reenactment in Postwar and Contemporary Cinema,” Anthology presents this in-depth film series focusing on the phenomenon Margulies explores: films that hinge on people reenacting their own past experiences, and that thereby probe the interface between realism and performance.
“One mostly encounters in-person reenactment films in the form of celebrity biopics: Muhammad Ali in THE GREATEST; bullfighter Luis Procuna in TORERO!, long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie (and his family) in ENDURANCE. These celebrity docudramas bring us full circle in rethinking Cesare Zavattini’s initial attempt to counter the encroachment of the star system through two complementary projects in 1953 – one promoting anonymous lives (LOVE IN THE CITY), the other showing the everyday face of stars like Anna Magnani or Ingrid Bergman (WE, THE WOMEN).
“Zavattini’s proposal that ‘everyone should act his [or her] own story,’ invested this process of self-replay and public display with high stakes. Zavattini, Antonioni, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, Claude Lanzmann, Rithy Panh, Abbas Kiarostami, and Andrea Tonacci have all seen in this self-performance a transformative strategy: can a person recognize themselves on screen? Can their life become exemplary, a form of enlightenment for oneself and others? Can cinema work as a form of confessional and retrial?
“This series traces a shift from the exemplary and transformative ethos of 1950s reenactment toward the un-redemptive stance of contemporary reenactments such as Tonacci’s HILLS OF DISORDER. It defines continuities between vérité testimony (such as in CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER and MOI, UN NOIR) and later parajuridical films such as THE KARSKI REPORT and Rithy Panh’s S21: THE KHMER ROUGE KILLING MACHINE, suggesting the power of co-presence and in-person actualization for an ethics of viewership.” –Ivone Margulies
Curated by Ivone Margulies, who also wrote the individual film descriptions below (unless otherwise noted). Special thanks to Cristina Amaral, Laura Argento (Cineteca Nazionale), Brian Belovarac (Janus Films), Cosma Bonasia (Viggo Srl), Mark Cohen, Amy Crismer (Walt Disney Studios), Eric Di Bernardo (Rialto Pictures), Jack Durwood (Paramount), the Filmoteca Española, David Frenkel (Synecdoche), Ruth Hodgins (Walker Art Center), Livia Bloom Ingram (Icarus Films), David Jennings (Sony), William Klein, Mapa Filmes, Patricia Mourao, Richard Peña, Margot Rossi (mk2), Elena Rossi-Snook (NYPL), Angelica Wang, Leslie Woodhead, and Zhang Yuan.
Ivone Margulies will be here in person for the opening night (Friday, February 1) screening of CLOSE-UP, for a special presentation in celebration of the publication of “In Person: Reenactment in Postwar and Contemporary Cinema” (Oxford University Press, 2019). She will also introduce selected screenings throughout the series.