IFP Session #2 Film screening

Tonight at 6 pm in the our studio, Institute For Provocation will host Belgian filmmaker Bram van Paesschen who is screening his latest film Empire Of Dust. The film depicts the reality of the Chinese involvement in Africa through the eyes of two middle-men in on the ground in Congo Kinshasa. Synopsis: Lao Yang and Eddy both work for a company called CREC (Chinese Railway Engineering Company). They have just set up camp near the remote mining town of Kolwezi in the Katanga province of the RDC. The goal of the company is to redo the road – covering 300km - that connects Kolwezi with the capital of the province Lubumbashi.

Lao Yang is head of logistics of the group. He is responsible for the equipment, building materials and food (mainly chickens) to arrive in the isolated Chinese prefab camp. The Congolese government was supposed to deliver these things but so far the team hasn’t received anything.

With Eddy (a Congolese man who speaks Mandarin fluently) as an intermediate, Lao Yang is forced to leave the camp and deal with local Congolese entrepreneurs, because without the construction materials the road works will cease. What follows is an endless, harsh, but absurdly funny roller coaster of negotiations and misunderstandings, as Lao Yan learns about the Congolese way of making deals.

Bram van Paesschen

Born 1979 in Vilvoorde, Belgium. Graduated in 2002 from Sint-Lukas in Brussels, film/video specialization documentary. Lives and works in Brussels. (Except for when he’s elsewhere)

The work of Bram Van Paesschen is indebted to various traditions of documentary filmmaking, from "classical" to fake documentary and essayistic formats. What unites this very diverse body of work is a sometimes radical, sometimes playful reflection on the rapport between the filmmaker and the filmed, as well as the necessary and responsible involvement of both in creating the documentary artifact. (Katrin Mundt)

Date & Time: Saturday March 10 at 6pm in the IFP Studio, Heizhima hutong 13, Dongcheng District, Beijing.

Because of the limited space, please notify us by email to max@iprovoke.org if you plan to attend the screening and following talk. And please don't arrive after 6.30! Thank you

Relentless Big Salad

I am watching an interview on Youtube with the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, most known for his video piece 24 hr Psycho - an installation where Hitchcock's Psycho is screened in slow motion, expanding the original film over 24 hours. Not having seen any show of his works yet, I am very puzzled by them and their simplicity. How we as viewers can start to enter into the life of fiction, and how fictitious characters become part of our lives.

For instance, I recently met two dedicated Seinfeld-fans here in Beijing. Being one myself, the three of us often found ourselves in situations where a few words, or even every-day words expressed in a certain way, became comical because of our shared knowledge of this fictitious reality (which furthermore ended over ten years ago). We indulge in these scenes taking place in our collective memory, constantly aware of their origin and meaning. It was a revelation also because all those phrases, expressions and nuances ("The dingo ate your baby!", "Hell-oooo!", "You had to have the BIG SALAD") become explicitly meaningful in this new company of mine. Before, very few of the people I am around share this body of knowledge (Seinfeld) so I find myself terribly alone when hearing words like pesto or salsa. I want to exclaim "Who doesn't like Pesto?" or "I wanted Seltzer, not Salsa!" but instead it bounces around in my head like a squash ball.

For those of you who have access to this amazing database of contemporary life:

Salsa, not Seltzer

A bout de souffle

I just came back from the cinemateque, having finally seen A bout de souffle, Jean-Luc Godards début and hard core contribution to the Nouvelle Vague cinema. It is better than I thought, and surprisingly funny, at times hilarious. The main character Michel Poiccard has an unbelievably slurred expression, acting on instinct in every situation. I could go so far as to say that he is the opposite of myself. A grown French man acting as a lonesome teenager gone wild, not taking any formal framework into consideration for his actions. His eyes turn away as soon as you try to catch a though in his mind, perhaps because there are none. The girl Patricia, a young ambitious tomboy, obviously much more intelligent and mature than Michel, is still seduced by his boyish maverick style. Their interplay is at times frustrating, as he is mostly interested in getting under her clothes and she plays on her sexuality and confuses him. The dialogue is abrupt and inconsistent, and Godard's visual style establishes a restless flow of jump cuts.

The funniest line in the film is when Patricia is sent to interview Mr Parvulescu, a writer realeasing his new book Candida. The questions from the surrounding journalists are as idiosynchric as his cryptic replies, and I turned in laughter for this sharp yet harmless parody on culture journalism. A nervous guy asks Mr Parvulescu in obliviousness how many men a women can love in a lifetime. Physically, that is. He starts counting with his hands: 5..10...20...30... "Plus que ça". More than that. Hilarious. In the end, Patricia gets her question answered:

- What is your big ambition in life?

- To become immortal, and then to die.

I say no more. For once this arty farty experience (going to see a French Nouvelle Vague classic in the cinemateque on a Saturday night) was worth every second and Danish krone. This is truly a masterpiece and I wish to see it many times more.