Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, Pays Barbare, 2013. Courtesy the artists

This new work selects and edits recently discovered Italian colonial films of the 1920s and 1930s, to show the atrocities of Mussolini’s Abyssinia and Libyan campaigns. The machinations of Fascism are exposed, but despite this, human elements shine through in glimpses of the people who made the films. The effect is a mesmerising descent into the brutality of colonialism.

Several years in the making, Pays Barbare chronicles the brutal Italian conquest in Africa – specifically, the violent attempts at subjugating Ethiopia – under the dictatorial rule of Mussolini. Told in chapters, the film employs footage – much of it amateur ethnography, both beautiful and terrifying, taken from private and anonymous archives – that is tinted, toned, slowed, and re-edited.  The film curator Andrea Picard describes the film as:

“A reflection on filmic material (its propagandistic use, notably the eroticized portrait of colonialism, but also its literal material, like deteriorating celluloid), as well as the image of dictatorship, imperialist conquests and the “new” man, Pays Barbare is an astonishing work of militant poetry.”

We were delighted to welcome the filmmakers via a Skype Q & A to introduce and discuss the film with Rebecca Shatwell, Festival Director and Dr Neelam Srivastava, Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature, Newcastle University.

The screening launched the Festival’s Postcolonial Cinema Weekend, which explored the complex histories and material traces of past colonial inequalities through contemporary filmmaking.

Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have created an incomparable documentary oeuvre consisting of over 40 films since the 1970s, whose rare beauty and integrity set them apart. Working at the intersections of history, the archive, the ready made and re-animation, their films are comprised of found footage mesmerizingly manipulated in order to give it new life and meaning: spectral apparitions that exhume forgotten and often shameful historical trespasses as they evocatively illuminate our own era.

Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi’s landmark experimental work From the Pole to the Equator, 1986, re-defined the documentary form and introduced recurrent themes in their work: war and peace, genocide and colonialism, death and cinema, the body and embodiment. Their techniques involve the manipulation of rare footage through re-photography, hand-tinted colour and altering film speed, to produce work that explores the fragility of the cinematic image and traces of historical ideologies.

The two have presented work at major international film festivals including Cannes, Rotterdam and Venice, and at leading museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Tate Modern, London.

Curated by AV Festival. Regional Premiere.

Pays Barbare + Q&A
Dir. Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi

Ticket offfer: Two tickets for price of one available by phone or in person at Tyneside Cinema.

Fri 7 March 2014, 8.45pm 

Tyneside Cinema

10 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle NE1 6QG

Year: 2013
Runtime: 65min + Q&A
Country: France
Language: French and Italian with English subtitles


Programme Notes