Session 1: New Works by Mark Rappaport

Film screenings and discussion
Thursday 17 March, 6pm – 9pm, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, WC1 [Map]
Tickets £4 / £6. Book here

Experimental filmmaker and video essayist pioneer Mark Rappaport (Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, 1992, From the Journals of Jean Seberg, 1995) will present and discuss examples of his recent video work, none of which have been shown before in the UK. He will be joining film scholar Michael Witt (Jean-Luc Godard Cinema Historian, 2013) in conversation to talk about his video essays on film history, stardom, ageing, sexuality, politics and many other topics!

John Garfield, 2002, digital, colour/black & white, 9 minutes

“Through a wide variety of clips from his films, John Garfield’s life is re-examined. Garfield, the first Hollywood actor to qualify as a ‘rebel’, was the prototype for 1950s stars like Brando, James Dean and Montgomery Clift. But even more interesting is that he was the first Hollywood actor who was Jewish and sexy. His Jewishness and his left-leaning politics were strong components in his choices of screen roles as well as in his personal life.” (Mark Rappaport)


I, Dalio, or The Rules of the Game, 2014, digital, colour/black & white, 33 minutes

“The great French actor, Marcel Dalio, who has the lead role in Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, also appears in Renoir’s La Grande Illusion. In both films he plays a character who is Jewish, as Dalio was in real life. In fact, in most of his French films of the 1930s, he almost always plays shady characters – informers, blackmailers, gangsters. In other words, he is always “The Jew”. When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, he fled to America and appeared in Casablanca and To Have and Have Not. In America, he was no longer the Jew but The Frenchman. He became, in dozens of films, America’s idea of a typical Frenchman. His film career has these two strands in which he has two different identities. Are you defined by other people and their perceptions of who you are? Are you always a creation of the way people want to see you? Or can you exist outside of the arbitrary boundaries which are placed on you?” (Mark Rappaport)


The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk, 2014, digital, colour/black & white, 11 minutes

“A video essay exploring the frequency and meaning of that particular prop in a wide variety of Sirk movies. Is it a device that traps and keeps women in an artificial world with a limited point of view? Or is it a gateway to the past, and the future, and a distorted but nevertheless real vision of the roles that women are forced to play in society? It’s an exploration of the texts and subtexts of commercial films and the subterranean and complicated ways that they affect us and can be read.” (Mark Rappaport)


Our Stars, 2015, digital, colour/black & white, 27 minutes

“Stars of the 1940s and 50s – were they cast for their mutual affinities or for their commercial appeal? If and when they were re-starred years later, did the magic still work, did sparks still fly? The movie business – a machine that manufactured romance and desire at the same time that it documented the process of ageing. A meditation on youth and beauty, ageing, and box office.” (Mark Rappaport)


Max, James, and Danielle…, 2015, digital, colour/black & white, 17 minutes

“An essay about Max Ophuls, James Mason, and Danielle Darrieux, the legendary director and two of his favourite actors. Mason and Darrieux were each in several Ophuls projects but were never together in an Ophuls movie, although they should have been. What might that movie have been like? It’s anybody’s guess – but cinephiles can dream, can’t they? Somewhere between a historical essay and a speculative one.” (Mark Rappaport)