Artists' Television Access

Staff night: Lettre de Sibérie/Letter From Siberia (Cancelled)

letter from siberia(Chris Marker/1957/62mins/digital projection)

Chris Marker’s iconic yet rarely screened early travelogue which André Bazin was perhaps the first to argue represented a newly emerging form of filmmaking he called “the essay documented by film”.

“Letter From Siberia unfolds as a collage offering Siberia from different angles and through various modes of cinematic representation, with the object of conveying the complexity of the country and at the same time exposing the role of the film itself in negotiating and composing different versions of Siberian reality. Marker revels in energetic litanies detailing the flora, fauna, human inhabitants, geographical features and principle industries of the region, which often take wry swipes at contemporary political sensibilities. Ducks are resolutely collectivist (‘there are no kulaks among ducks’), and the domesticated bear Ouchatik is less frightening than the police. The location footage is periodically interrupted by forays into still photography and animation… The generic digressions and shifting perspectives of Letter From Siberia converge to frame its subject as a land of paradox, midway between ‘the Middle Ages and the 21st century, between the earth and the moon, between humiliation and happiness’…
The film’s energy and inventiveness come from a self-conscious dialectical mobilization of these contrasts, which purposely avoids resolving them into a tidy synthesis.”
-Catherine Lupton

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