Noël Burch Retrospektive
Thu, February 20, 2003 – Sat, February 22, 2003, Film Screening

Noël Burch (*1932, San Francisco) has been living in France since 1951. In the 1950s he worked as assistant director for Preston Sturges and Michel Fano. He has been an author since the 1960s. From 1967 to 1971 he was co-founder and director of the Institut de Formation Cinématographique (together with J.-A Fieschi and D. Mancier). From 1972 to 1981, Burch taught at the Royal College of Art and at the Slade School in London; at the Institut des Arts de Diffusions in Brussels; at the NY University Department of Cinema Studies, and at Ohio State University in the Department of Photography and Cinema. Between 1982 and 2000 he taught as a guest professor at the University of Paris III and Paris VIII, and at the University of California in Santa Barbara; from 1993 to 2000 he was professor at Lille III.

Among his numerous publications belong, for example, the work »Theory of Film Practice« (New York: Praeger, 1973), a monograph about »Marcel L’'Herbier« (Paris: Seghers, 1973), and »To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema« (Berkeley: 1979). His latest publication is the book »La drôle de guerre des sexes du cinema francais: 1930-1956« (in cooperation with Geneviève Sellier; Paris: Nathan, 1996), which deals with the portrayal of gender relationships in French film from between the wars up to the 1950s, keeping a special eye on those films which came about during the Occupation.

As director, Noël Burch brought forth an entire series of reports and documentary films, including:  »Sentimental Journey« (USA 1993/94), which tells of Burch’s return to America and of meeting up with former leftist companions. In the film »Correction, Please or How We Got into Pictures« (UK 1979) variations of a scene from a story by Dorothy Sayers form reflections upon the history of the development of film language. This film traces the origins of the classic language of film to a time between 1906-1930, raising a series of theoretical questions in relationship to the “dominant” forms of representation. This occurs in four versions of a fantasy borrowed from an old British thriller, to which key scenes from the “primitive” era of English, French, and North American films have been inserted. The six-part series »What do those Old Films Mean?« (1984/85) deals with the social history of early cinema in six different countries (England, Germany, USA, Denmark, France, the USSR). In each individual part selected film examples are analyzed from various socio-political perspectives. »The Year of the Bodyguard« (UK/Germany) goes into the story of those suffragettes who in 1912 completed their training under the first female English Jiu-Jitsu expert in order to be able to fight against the police and to protect their leaders. »The Impersonator« or »A Propos the Disappearance of Reginald Pepper« (in cooperation with Christopher Mason, UK/Germany 1983) tells the story of a painter who only attains success when she pretends to be a male primitive.

Noël Burch will be present in person for the entire retrospective and will, after concluding his introduction on »What Do Those Old Films Mean?« give a lecture about his work.

Organization / Institution