The Zanzibar Films - An Evening with Jackie Raynal featuring Deux Fois
In the storied tradition of French cinema, the New Wave may be the most famous break with tradition – but there were also the underseen, so-called Zanzibar films, named for a 1969 voyage to that then-Maoist country, and made in and around the student protests of May ‘68 by a long-haired, Parisian Warhol’s factory-esque cast of painters, models, artists, amateurs, dandies, and film techs – everyone but established filmmakers. The loose constellation of films they produced were unified by a mystical, hippie kind of avant-garde – one that rubbed up against, but didn’t define itself by, the political – instead the group’s greatest interventions were formal: long takes, drug-fueled improvisation, and purely counter-cultural amateurism. The filmmakers weren’t the only ones making a radical intervention in the world of French cinema – their patroness was too. French heiress Sylvina Boissonnas financed twelve of these films, apparently holding court at the Coupole restaurant, ready to sign checks for virtually anyone with an idea – making rather costly 35mm film stock available to a fascinating crowd. Still underseen today, the Zanzibar films, more than anything, are the products of a group that undertook filmmaking without traditional credentials, and without any intention to distribute, release, or capitalize on the work.
Special thanks to Jackie Raynal, Jacob Perlin, and Zanzibar scholar Sally Shafto.
Tickets $14 general, free for Cinefamily and Filmforum members.
Saturday, August 12th at 7pm - An Evening with Jackie Raynal featuring Deux Fois
“Tonight will be the end of meaning. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.”
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While Jackie Raynal is best known as the former programmer of two of New York’s premiere art cinemas—the Carnegie Hall and the Bleecker Street—she began her career in film nearly forty years ago in Paris, where by 1964 she was the youngest film editor in France, editing for Éric Rohmer among others. Challenged by Zanzibar patroness Boissonnas to stop editing other people’s films and make her own, Raynal traveled to Barcelona, where she completed Deux Fois (translated as Two Times, or playfully, Twice Upon a Time) in a single week. —Sally Shafto
Deux Fois (translated as Two Times, or playfully, Twice Upon a Time)
Dir. Jackie Raynal, 1968, digital presentation, 65 min.
One of the most enigmatic of the Zanzibar films, it is composed of a series of unconnected episodes, some of which are repeated. The film begins with a prologue in which Raynal (carefully made-up and fashionably dressed) is seated, head lowered and hands joined in prayer, before both her dinner and her film. While Deux Fois lays claim to the Surrealist legacy of Buñuel and Cocteau, it gained critical recognition as a pioneering work within the burgeoning feminist cinema. —Sally Shafto