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17 December 2017: In Memoriam: Frans Zwartjes


Frans Zwartjes passed away on November 18, 2017. He was ninety years old.

A month on from his passing, we celebrate the life of Dutch experimental filmmaker Frans Zwartjes with rare programme of seven of his films on 16mm. Under these dire circumstances we welcome Stanley Schtinter to introduce the programme and pay tribute to his friend and collaborator.

Best known for his experimental shorts produced in the 1960s and 70s, Zwartjes was goth before there was such a thing (which the culture has since determinedly undermined). He was the first artist to unlock the potential of the selfie (which the culture has since determinedly undermined), and he was the precursor to the Fassbindian approach to "family" filmmaking (which the culture has since determinedly avoided). Susan Sontag called Zwartjes "the most important experimental filmmaker of his generation", and he has been either cited or ripped off whole-sale by a generation of artists and filmmakers since.

Living, Frans Zwartjes, 1971, 15 min, B/W, 16mm
Spectator, Frans Zwartjes, 1970, 11 min, B/W, 16mm
Behind your walls, Frans Zwartjes, 1970, 12 min, Colour, 16mm
How did you know I was in Trouble?, Frans Zwartjes, 1997, 7min, Colour, 16mm
Toilet, Frans Zwartjes, 1970, 3 min, B/W, 16mm
Through the Garden and into the Living Room, Frans Zwartjes, 1970, 22 min, Colour & B/W, 16mm
They are Five, Frans Zwartjes, 1970, 7 min, Colour, 16mm
Extract from A Portrait of Frans Zwartjes, Stanley Schtinter, 2017, Colour, Digital

In 2013, "the Keeper of the Sacred Flame", Stanley Schtinter, located Zwartjes and uncovered a rich archive of unheard music. As such, Schtinter founded "the most unambitious record label in the world",, to release this music, which has since been reissued by Trunk Records.

For the occasion of this tribute, have produced a cassette release of The Frans Zwartjes Sound System, an officially sanctioned live music project by Schtinter, Samuel Kilcoyne and Takatsuna Mukai performing live at L'Age D'Or festival in Brussels, and London's Whitechapel Gallery. This release will be available only to attendees of the event. Any remaining copies at the end of the evening will be destroyed.

Many thanks to the Zwartjes family, Marleen Labijt (EYE Filmmuseum) and Stanley Schtinter for making this programme possible.

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