Close Up

7 November 2018: Our Century


"Working from opposite sides of the iron curtain the American Ken Jacobs and the Armenian Artavazd Peleshian achieve radically different results through the use of found footage. Whereas Peleshian provides a passionate paean to Human achievement by heavily editing and re-working half a century's worth of images, Jacobs presents a sombre portrayal of a dark time in American History by leaving the original footage untouched. Together, they provide the viewer with a sense of how history is witnessed and mythologized by the medium of film." – Francesco Maria Carreri 

Perfect Film
Ken Jacobs
1986 | 22 min | B/W | 16mm

"The fortuitous find and instant conception of Perfect Film, a found footage film of eyewitness accounts of the assassination of Malcolm X, is a perfect allegory for Jacobs' notion of "the movies that make up our minds, are our minds in large part". The footage was being sold for the reel on which it was spooled. Jacobs found it, and didn't touch it at all. The drama of shock reveals itself, first in the animated account of a journalist who happened to be in the auditorium, then in the grave and weary non-answers the police chief gives reporters. The story changes, the number of shots fired rises, and the lone newsman in the auditorium refines his story, growing with its power. There is a crowd around him, half of them listening intently, the other half trained on the camera. One man is smiling like an idiot. The film is historically potent, to be sure, but Jacobs perhaps recognised it for its darker suggestions, that in the instant of shock we forget and succumb to the storyteller.” – Genevieve Yue

Our Century
Artavazd Peleshyan
1983 | 47 min | B/W | Digital

Images detailing humanity's obsession with flight are woven into Peleshian's own footage of a group of cosmonauts preparing themselves to fly into space. “Our Century is a film about us, about me. It’s about what I’m striving for, what we’re all striving for- every person, humanity. But the wishes and desires of the people to ascend, to transcend, are literally carried out by the cosmonauts” – Artavazd Peleshyan

Part of Francesco Maria Carreri's programme, Never Found: Alternate Histories of the 20th Century