Nature is Peleshian’s first feature film in 27 years. Andrei Ujică’s 2 Pasolini was originally part of an exhibition with The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. Both enjoyed premieres at the 59th annual New York Film Festival.
Artavazd Peleshian’s Nature and Andrei Ujică’s 2 Pasolini were both commissioned by The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, a cultural institution that was established in 1984 as part of Maison Cartier’s effort to promote and raise public awareness of contemporary art. The global premiere of 2 Pasolini and the festival premiere Nature are celebrations of the talents of two visionaries in the field of avant-garde filmmaking: true cinema as art.
The premieres were part of the New York Film Festival, an internationally-renowned film festival which has been presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center for over 50 years. Attendees included the director of 2 Pasolini, Andrei Ujică, Christine Goppel, Assistance Vice President of Corporate Relations and Development at Cartier North America, Josh Siegel, film curator at MoMA, Dorothée Charles, cultural and artistic director at Cartier North America, among other talents, visionaries, and enthusiasts of the art
The screenings, which took place in the intimate Francesca Beale Theater on the West Side of Manhattan, are part of a portion of the festival known as ‘Currents”. This section complements the Main Slate, and works to trace a more complete picture of contemporary cinema with an emphasis on new and innovative forms and voices.
After the screening, a Q&A session with the director of 2 Pasolini was hosted by Leo Goldsmith, a well known scholar in the film space. Ujică fielded questions about the development of the respective films as well as some questions from the audience. His words crystalized the intentions of the respective filmmakers: both set out to “imagine film as painting. It is new universal language: image and sounds”.
Artavazd Peleshian, an Armenian filmmaker known for developing a style of cinematographic perspective known as distance montage (which combines perception of depth with oncoming entities), has spent six decades exploring this language.“I am convinced that cinema can convey certain things that no language in the world can translate. For me, it goes back to the Tower of Babel, before the division into different languages,” says Peleshian.
Peleshian is consistently regarded as an essential fixture in avant-garde filmmaking world, appreciative of beauty and narrative without being tempted to create surrealist or absurd material. This is due to Peleshian’s endless interest in the natural world and its various phenomena which can sometimes feel absurd in their own right. This is the focus of Nature, only the material for this film has been sourced from a variety of places, including material from YouTube as well as documentary footage.
Nature is a lush yet shocking analysis of humanity’s relationship with the natural world, with the film style walking a line between documentary and feature film, typical of Peleshian’s way. Through picture and sound, it is an assessment two different understandings of time: the geological time and the human-scale sense of time, which is nothing but mere seconds in the story of geological time. Altogether, viewers may be in awe or despair, but nearly comforted by this scale of time. The sourcing of material feels vast and modern, and tantalizing in its collective beauty.
Unlike Nature, 2 Pasolini uses found footage from a singular Pier Paolo Pasolini work: Sopraluoghi in Palestina ([Location Hunting in Palestine], 1965). Andrei Ujică’s relationship to Pasolini (one of endearing and enduring appreciation) defines the respectful use of the footage, along with some commentary on the societal implications both directors faced. Ujică’s significant works focus on the collapse of the Soviet Union from a variety of perspectives, including fictional conversations and intergalactic scenarios. Through its found footage, 2 Pasolini is reconsideration of the neorealist masterpiece by Pasolini, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Ujică is undoubtedly an intellectual just as Pasolini was, with both drawing inspiration from the dialogues between different parts of their respective societies.
Both films will be screened once more on Sunday, 10 October 2021 at the Howard Gilman Theater at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. Tickets can be purchased at the NYFF website.
Explore more of Peleshian’s story with a dedicated website conceived for the exhibition of Artavazd Peleshian at the Fondation Cartier (2020-2021), Encounter with Artavazd Peleshian. Here one can discover or rediscover Peleshian’s history with rare documents, historical photos and a number of contributions by Atom Egoyan, Andrei Ujica and Pietro Marcello.