Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are special guests of the 46th FNC this week. A unique occasion for Montreal film buffs to get acquainted with this peculiar duet of filmmakers from Belgium. During the Fest, their three features are showcased with a collection of their shorts (6), followed by an intriguing Masterclass, (Saturday, October 7, 1:00 PM cinémathèque Québécoise). They were also offered a Carte Blanche and they selected two classic westerns All’Italiana : Faccia a Faccia (1967) and Keoma (1976) to introduce to the public. It is especially with this kind of retrospective events that the fest can fulfill its mission to please pure film buffs.
Cattet and Forzani’s stylish work displays their solid affection for the Italian film genres of the 1960-70’s, notably the Giallo (the Italian word for yellow). These provocative films (even by today’s standards), a mix of slasher, horror and police investigation, were dubbed Gialli (in the plural form) as the ideas originated from a series of Pulp-like books of the period printed on trade mark yellow sleeves. The most renown directors of the film genre were, of course, Mario Bava and Dario Argento (and as music is concerned, Ennio Morricone is the most prominent composer). But, as some contributors of the genre are repeatedly cited, the trio of collaborators formed by director Sergio Martino, actress Edwige Fenech and composer Bruno Nicolai with Your Vice is a Locked Room... (1972) being a great example, Cattet and Forzani’s knowledge on the subject obviously extends far beyond the household names.
Right from the beginning, with their promising shorts Catharsis (2001) and Chambre Jaune (2002), followed by a few more outputs under the 15-minute mark (all part of the October 7 program), they established what was to come with 2009’s AMER (Monday October 9, 7:00 PM, Cinémathèque Québécoise), a first venture into feature category.
A near-nihilistic and nightmarish recollection of images, especially 2013’s The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Thursday October 5, 5:00 PM, Cinémathèque Québécoise), is on the menu. Carefully crafted images so reference-filled and purposely edited into popping near-stroboscopic violent effects (the frame ratio by the minute is quite vertiginous), they are delivered at such fast pace we simply don’t get time to digest all the information coming our way. At some extent, it seriously raises questions about pregnant women, or people with a heart condition, attending.
Using a pile of references, the directors manage to overrun their seizure of the original material to shape it into a personal work. Screenplays are minimalist as it can be and circumstances are usually set to confine (sequestrate?) the protagonists (and also the viewer ) into claustrophobic locations. Coupled with multiple and repeated similar actions, through various innovative and excess of framing and sound editing, it delivers the impression of being watch while being a voyeur ourselves, an essential ingredient of the Giallo genre.
Their most recent offering Laissez Bronzer les Cadavres (Friday October 6, 9:00 PM – Imperial Cinema and Sunday oct 8 Quartier Latin – with EST), freely inspired by Jean-Pierre Bastid’s Noir book of the same name, is a continuity, although it clearly refers this time around to the Spaghetti Western universe, notably the obscure (but amazing) ¡Mátalo! (1970), from which, as some kind of confession, they borrowed Mario Migliardi’s theme song for the closing titles to their own film.
Cattet and Forzani’s directions could also easily be linked to some of the Russian Avant-garde techniques because their overall way of showing (and scrutinize into details like an extension of the Cine-Eye) is precisely its central point. All is stripped (but extended within) to the bare minimum, metaphorically and physically (except for the visually arousing Art direction). Some interesting confrontations between the nature of the original works that is celebrated (Gialli were basically sexy stylish-provocative flicks aiming at box office returns) and the various experiences (Pixilation, split-screens, various editing tricks, etc) included in the duet’s films (and that could be part of a museum exhibit) are no stranger to the cult feeling and the appeal of the whole affair.
Don’t miss it. Don’t miss them.