Random Image
Mentoring Programme

From April 18th to 20th 2024, FAMU hosted French filmmaker Nicolas Rey, who introduced students to the independent film lab scene. Students have learned about working with photochemical and optomechanical film media on an international scale. Through screenings of films on film prints (16mm, 35mm) and one feature film by Nicolas Rey (16mm), students have explored diverse unconventional methods of visual expression and conceptualization through material. The Mentoring programme included a hands-on experience with a film optical printer Oxberry (16mm), a device that holds an indispensable place in the history of cinema, both mainstream and alternative, and is increasingly found in artistic film labs. Through basic manipulation techniques taught collaboratively, students reproduced, layered, and altered the original image composition, among other tasks. The resulting tests were developed and screened together. 

French filmmaker Nicolas Rey was born in 1968 and has been working in the medium of photochemical film since the mid-1990s. Since 1995, he has been involved in the running and direction of the collective art film laboratory L'Abominable in Paris, which he helped to found the same year. Today, he is a prominent figure and mentor in the artist-run film lab scene, deepening, expanding and sharing his knowledge of photochemical analogue film. Currently, the artist collective l'Abominable is renovating the former commercial film lab Éclair in the suburbs of Paris with the aim of permanently establishing its shared artist-run film lab as well as a projection room dedicated to projection from film prints. 

This project, called le Navire Argo (https://navireargo.org/), is primarily about developing a creative space for artistic collective, systematic and residential, film practice in the medium of photochemical film and preserving knowledge in this field that has moved from the realm of industry to that of art. This project, which has cultural heritage value, has received broad support from the National Centre of Cinematography (CNC), the Ile-de-France region, the Seine-Saint-Denis department, the town of Épinay-sur-Seine, professionals and the general public.

Film and contemporary art critic Christa Blümlinger sees in Rey's latest feature film, Molussia, what could be true for his entire artistic practice, namely that: "renews the artistic and artisanal traditions of cinema, finding in old techniques and materials the possibility of a plastic renewal; (...) it mediates a kind of reconciliation between two avant-gardes, long separated and not understanding each other: the avant-garde of experimental cinema, which originated in the environment of the visual arts and originated in New York, and the other, which took shape in Europe as a result of post-war modernist cinema, which we could call essayistic."

His film autrement, la Molussie (or also anders, Molussia, 2012) is a radical adaptation of the German Jewish philosopher Günter Anders' novel Die molussische Katakombe (1932-36), which presents a debate on fascism. Prisoners in the prisons of the imaginary fascist state of Molussia relay stories about the outside world in the form of a series of philosophical fables. The nine-reel/chapter 16mm film, developed through a so-called cross-processing process, is screened in random order. There are 362,880 possible arrangements of these nine reels, so each screening can reasonably be considered a world premiere. The film was selected for the Berlinale (Forum Expanded), won the Grand Prix at the Cinema of the Real festival in Paris, and competed in Brussels for the Prix de l'Âge d'or (Golden Age).

'Nine reels of fabulous 16mm material, eight of which present the allegories from Günther Anders' 1992 posthumously published novel 'The Molussian Catacomb' which expose the fascist elements of capitalism – and vice versa. The order of the film sequences, which means, the stories and the method by which certain motifs, aesthetic strategies and cinematic arrangements are introduced and elaborated, are interchangeable. What the material has in common is the colours and the texture. Only few works combine cinematic sensibility and marxist dialectic this perfectly.'- Olaf Müller, Film Comment

'I wanted to make a film based on a novel which I could not read, because it was only published in a language I don't understand. No translation existed. It's all a question of trust and intuition. I only knew the framework of the plot: Prisoners, incarcerated in the dungeons of the fictional fascist state Molussia, tell tales about the outside world and philosophical fables. Today I can say that I was right: The novel contains a profound timeliness.'  - Nicolas Rey

(source: https://schmalfilmtage.de/data/schmalfilm/archiv/fest2016/Eng/nicolas_ray.php)

The project AMU, Mentoringový program - Nicolas Rey, the registration number of the project 0316000022 is implemented with the financial support from the European Union through the National Recovery Plan and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.


Photo: Louisa Havránková, Andrea Petrovičová