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Ici et Ailleurs
Here and Elsewhere. Study Group





Free Cinema School II
28 July: FREE: 7pm to 9pm
28 July: FREE: 7pm to 9pm


The Free Cinema School presents a one off evening "study group" based around the seminal ideas and contemporary themes in Ici et Ailleurs: Here and Elsewhere (Godard & Mieville 1976). In 1970, Godard, along with Jean-Pierre Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group, was commissioned by Al Fatah, the militant Palestinian group, to shoot a documentary. When the film was approximately two-thirds complete, production was halted since many of the Palestinians they had been filming had been killed. Years after the disintegration of the Dziga Vertov Group, Godard and his new collaborator Anne-Marie Mieville, whom he would work with through the 1990s, re-edited this footage into a cinematic essay exploring the failure of the original to address the reality of the images it presents.

Over the last few weeks on a Wednesday evening, artists in residence Lamie Joerigie, Rania Stephan, no.w.here, Khalid Abdulla, Cressida Trew and members from the local community have been coming together at The Centre of Possible Studies to screen films as part of an ongoing open discussion around independent film production/distribution and its relationship to place, to the Edgware Road.

In this evening the 40 minute film Here and Elsewhere will be played in 10-15 minute episodes interspersed with collective discussion around the films agency and contemporary relevance, also drawing on some of the wider topics and possible studies ongoing at the Centre of Possible Studies.

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Ici et Ailleurs/Here & Elswhere
Derek Smith 11/4/04

In 1970, Godard, along with Jean-Pierre Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group, was commissioned by Al Fatah, the militant Palestinian group, to shoot a documentary. When the film was approximately two-thirds complete, production was halted since many of the Palestinians they had been filming had been killed. Years after the disintegration of the Dziga Vertov Group, Godard and his new collaborator Anne-Marie Mieville, whom he would work with through the 1990s, re-edited this footage into a cinematic essay exploring the failure of the original to address the reality of the images it presents. Dixon writes “Godard and Mieville now manipulate these images to address issues of genocide, social injustice, theatrical presentation, and the endless contradictions and internal complications involved in creating any sound/image construct, fictive or documentary. Ici et Ailleurs acknowledges that although the 1970 footage in the film is “real,” the editorial decisions involved in constructing the final film are equally “real,” and they shape, distort, reconstruct, and otherwise transform the flickering images of dead Palestinians into a work which is a meditation on the creation of history, and the images that record (and transmute) that history into the fabric of our lives.” At this time, Godard realized that the shortcomings of his more dogmatic Dziga Vertov period films were caused because “the sound was too loud”, or rather the truth of images they recorded in the Middle East were lost since the soundtrack “insists on one voice dominating another.”

In reshaping the original footage, Godard and Mieville are able to bring the “here”, in this case a contemporary French family unit, together with the “elsewhere”, Palestine, in a vibrant discussion of the nature of the image and how they come to define our reality. Integral to this discussion was the idea that the images in the original film, Victory, failed in their political objective since they added up to zero. As Godard says, since in a film, images are projected, not simultaneously, but one after another, they cannot form a cohesive whole because the next image replaces the importance of the first.

In a passage of the film, Mieville narrates:

“All that, we had all organized like that. All the sounds, all the images, in that order. All the sounds, all the images, in that order saying: here is what was beautiful in the Middle East. Five images, five sounds that had not been heard or seen on Arab earth. The people,s will, plus the armed struggle equal the people,s war, plus the political work equal the people,s education, plus the people’s logic equal the popular war extended until victory of the Palestinian people. And this is what one, what he, what I, what she, what you had shot elsewhere.”

The humility in this statement is even more remarkable when you take into account that Godard is confessing to the defects of his previous five years of filmmaking. The “flow of images” in the politically militant films of the Dziga Vertov Group are as guilty of manipulation as the classical Western style it condemns. The narration in Ici et Ailleurs addresses “the emotional, physical, and historical distance between the original footage, shot in 1970, and the ways in which Godard and Mieville now manipulate these images to address issues of genocide, social injustice, theatrical presentation, and the endless contradictions and internal complications involved in creating any sound/image construct, fictive or documentary.” A heavy emphasis is also put on the word “et” as a way of addressing the importance of accounting for the past and present, the here and elsewhere, and most importantly, the message and its audience.

Ici et Ailleurs is important in Godard’s filmography not only because it marked yet another shift in his cinematic form, but also because he became willing to engage in a no-holds-barred discourse with his audience, rather than focusing his intensity on the purely revolutionary content of his message. His inclusion of the domestic space (represented by a typical middle class French family) as the point where “any politics must start” is evidence that in accounting for the “here” he has begun trying to link the political relationships and philosophical concerns in his films with the plight of the ordinary citizen. One senses that he is finally achieving what he set out to do after Deux ou Trois Choses, to “look around more than ever, the world, my kin, my twin.” This marked the end of the cold, calculating revolutionary phase of Godard,s career and he would, after this, to create political films, making sure to include the cinephiles and leftists he so fervently speaks to.

http://www.cinematicreflections.com/icietailleurs.html


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