The Zanzibar Films - Inner Scar + Chromo Sud
The Zanzibar Films
Aug 10 – 31
At Cinefamily, 611 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90036
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.
The Inner Scar
Dir. Philippe Garrel, 1972, DCP, 60 min.
A film like no other, The Inner Scar (La cicatrice intérieure) is a seductive and mysteriously existential ramble through various barren landscapes, helmed by Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico (who provides songs for the film), Pierre Clementi, director Philippe Garrel himself (with whom she had a ten year relationship), and even Nico’s son. You’ll recognize the cover the 1970 album Desertshore as being plucked from this gorgeous, primal moan of a film.
Dir. Etienne O’Leary, 1968, 16mm, 21 min.
Though he only made three films, Etienne O’Leary’s work is an impactful feat of editing. Peripheral to the Zanzibar group, but an ideal companion, Chromo Sud is a pulsing, psychedelic drug fueled freakout in which shots from the barricades of May ‘68 protests become a single, layered, flashing, collage for 21 vital minutes.