José Luis Guerín – Le Saphir de Saint-Louis AKA The Sapphire of St. Louis (2015)

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In 1741, a ship called the Saphir sets sail from a port in La Rochelle, France on its way to the New World. On board are thirty crewmembers and two hundred seventy-one slaves. Somewhere off the coast of Santo Domingo, a slave revolt erupts. This little-known moment in history was memorialized in an obscure 18th century painting that hangs in the Saint-Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle. Celebrated filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin peers into this painting to vividly re-tell the story, capturing, in the process, a snapshot of the political, historical, economic and social realities of the time. THE SAPPHIRE OF ST. LOUIS is a remarkable documentary that uses a little painting hidden away in a remote cathedral to open a door on a pivotal moment in history. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – La academia de las musas AKA The Academy of Muses (2015)

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After his classes, a teacher is questioned by his wife, who mistrusted the academic project is plotting her husband. The teacher’s intention is to create a “school of the Muses” inspired by the classic references, that should be used to regenerate the world through engagement with poetry. The controversial order triggered a round of scenes around the word and desire. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Tren de sombras AKA Train of Shadows (1997)

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Quote:
Ostensibly framed as a restoration of a degraded found film recovered some 70 years after the sudden and unexplained death of its creator, a Parisian attorney and amateur filmmaker named Gérard Fleury at a lake in the village of Le Thuit in Normandy, Tren de sombras (Train of Shadows) is a dense, sensual, and richly textured exposition of José Luis Guerín’s recurring preoccupations: the nature and subjectivity of the image-gaze, the permeable borders between truth and fiction, the role of architecture (and landscape) as palimpsest of hidden histories. By placing the discovery of Fleury’s last shot footage of his home and family within the context of the ambiguity surrounding the circumstances of his death after a seemingly innocuous scouting trip early one morning to find suitable lighting conditions to incorporate into his home movie, the found film becomes both a curious artifact of the early days of cinema in its informally staged performances that suggest the whimsical, created illusions of Georges Méliès (in a performance of dancing ties and magic tricks), and also a non-fiction, historical record that can be deconstructed, reconstituted, and re-analyzed to glean further information into the real-life mystery. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – En la ciudad de Sylvia AKA In the City of Sylvia (2007)

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Synopsis
It’s summer and a young foreigner saunters through the streets of this city of street cars and canals.
A lone wanderer, the hypotheses surrounding him will be changing: An artist, at leisure, a simple tourist, a parasite, paranoid, in love…?
Lodged at an old, family-run hotel, he walks through the city, observing, writing and drawing –sketching gestures and expressions caught at random on the street.
In the evenings he haunts a night club called “Les Aviateurs”.
He peers through the open windows of certain façades.
He revisits one of them at different times of day, here and there making out minor domestic contents, more insinuated than seen.
A certain mystery floats over the nature of his intentions, with attitudes reminiscent of those of a voyeur or even a psycho-killer… Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia (2007)

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An unnamed young man arrives in the foreign city of Strasbourg for reasons unstated. He waits at a hotel, visits a café, sketches passersby… Eventually his motives are revealed, but it is not a traditional narrative that Guerín is after so much as the urban experience of watching, waiting, absorbing. Out of these materials Guerín builds a spellbinding film that reminds us of cinema’s powerful ability to evoke the tugs of memory, desire and the transitory. An extraordinary city film, Sylvia almost entirely eschews dialogue to instead give a symphonic voice to the city itself through a rich and fully immersive soundtrack of urban sounds, explosions of music and strange Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Innisfree (1990)

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Description:
A documentary focused on the modern-day village of Innisfree, the location used by legendary director John Ford for his Irish romance The Quiet Man.

Innisfree (from the Gaelic Inis Fraoich, the heather island) is the name of a tiny island in Lough Gill, to the south ­east of Sligo town, which was immortalised by Yeats in one of his best ­ known poems, ” The Lake lsle of Innisfree ” (The Rose, 1893). Written at a time when the poet lived in London with his family, and “felt very homesick” (Kirby, 1977: 46), “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” expresses a nostalgic longing for a simple country life apart from the stresses of urban life that places it within a pastoral tradition. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Guest (2010)

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Filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin documents his experience during a year of traveling as a guest of film festivals to present his previous film. What emerges is a wonderfully humane and sincere portrayal of the people that he meets when he goes off the beaten track in some of the world’s major cities. (IMDB Plot Summary) Continue reading