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LUMIERE AND COMPANY

France, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Documenta)

Director: Sarah Moon

One hundred years after the Lumiere brothers turned their invention on the world, the gauntlet has been thrown down: to use only their restored yet rudimentary hand-cranked camera, hand-made film stock and to shoot under the same conditions—strictly natural light, no synch sound, 52 seconds worth of footage. Thirty-nine international filmmakers took the challenge and this highly original idea produces wildly diverse mini-masterpieces, providing a potent insight into the creative minds of some of cinema's finest. From slapstick comedy to political propaganda, documentary realism to costume drama. the world is fleetingly captured once again. But the lens of the contemporary beholders has seen a century the Lumiere fathers could scarcely have imagined. Watching the directors at work it is hard to decide which side of the camera provides the greater entertainment! Who cranks the handle themselves or who insists on a full technical crew: who conquers, or cracks under the constraints is fascinating and just as illuminating ; the succinct sensations they create.

The eerily calm David Lynch directs in the eye of the storm, controlling what is revealed to be a nematic whirlwind that is quite possibly his magnum opus in miniature! Whilst French auteur Jacques Rivette laughs that this is his first work that none can complain should be shorter.

Eccentric and eclectic Lumiere and Company is an an extra dimension by its director Sarah Moon who follows the Lumiere brothers 'camera as it is passed from hand to hand. asking each director the kind of questions that sound the simplest but are often the most difficult to answer, 'Why do you make films'' what made you be a part of this project?" and is the cinema immortal?" (AH)

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