Amsterdam Diary - E*Cinema: The Hitchcock Tapes at EYE

Still from Gravity by Nicolas Provost

Still from Gravity by Nicolas Provost

EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam held a special screening on Tuesday, 23rd September, part of a weekly program with E*Cinema Academy featuring avant garde cinema. This week's edition was an ode to Hitchcock, part of EYE's Hitchcock Touch theme for the month of September and October.

E*Cinema: The Hitchcock Tapes started off with an introduction by Leo Hee, film programmer at EYE followed by three short films. I was on a cinema high that night. 

The night included the following films: 

Gravity by Nicolas Provost (BE, 2007, 6 min)

The cinematic kiss is probably one of the most archetypical images to be found in film history. Playing with the physiological and cinematographic principle of the after-image, Provost causes dozens of kissing scenes from European and American film classics to collide. The reassuring world of multiplied kisses is shattered by a stroboscopic effect that plunges and loses us into the dizzying vertigo of the embrace where love becomes a passionate battle in which monsters are finally unmasked. 

Nicolas Provost’s work reflects on the grammar of cinema, the human condition in our collective film memory and the relation between visual art and the cinematic experience. His films provoke both recognition and alienation and succeed in catching our expectations into an unraveling game of mystery and abstraction. With manipulations of time, codes and form, cinematographic and narrative language are sculpted into new stories.

It is jarringly beautiful. 

Looking for Alfred by Johan Grimonprez (BE, 2005, 10min)

An homage to Alfred Hitchcock in the form of a search for the perfect Hitchcock doppelganger and vignettes starring those multiple would-be Hitchcocks, reenacting his cameos.

Casting calls and screen tests in London, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and New York are documented in film stills and photos. (Professional Hitchcock impersonator Rob Burrage says, “I thought I was safe until you guys came along, digging up all those other Hitchcock look-alikes. Now we will have to find ways of disposing of them.”)

Line-readings from Truffaut’s famous 1960s interview with the master and scenes in which Hitchcock acted as an extra are further grist for the mill. Beyond the work’s mockumentary structure, Grimonprez evokes the Hitchcockian universe uncannily, and connects back-through the recurring motif of a man in a suit and a bowler hat-to another great modern auteur, Rene Magritte. 

Phoenix Tapes by Matthias Müller, Christoph Girardet (DE/UK, 1999, 45min) 

This film blew my mind.

Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet were commissioned in 1999 by the Modern Art Oxford to make this film for an exhibition that celebrated the centenary of Hitchcock titled "Notorius: Alfred Hitchcock and Contemporary Art".

Phoenix Tapes show re-edited excerpts from 40 films by Alfred Hitchcock. The six chapters (Rutland, Burden of Proof, Derailed, Why Don't You Love Me?, Bedroom, Necrologue) focus on a personal selection of various leitmotifs in Hitchcock´s work.

The consequence of this is not only to highlight Hitchcock's obsessions with certain types of repetitive movements and highly loaded visual signifiers, but to suggest that these actions are part of a universal language of gesture that encompasses both cinematic and everyday modes of communication.’ (John Tozer, Camera Austria) Matthias Müller described Phoenix Tapes as: “a surreal, crude patchwork that suggests a narrative, then breaks it".

Read the complete programme essay here.