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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Films about films

Recently, I saw the film Ararat by Atom Egoyan, Canada's premier director and the maker of the film Exotica, which the StudioFilmClub screened some time ago.

Ararat deals with a controversial subject: the Armenian genocide in eastern Turkey in 1915, when between one and two million Armenians were exterminated. To this day many details of the genocide are disputed, and in Turkey one can be charged with a criminal offense for saying it ever happened, as the writer Orhan Pamuk recently found out.

How does one make a film about genocide? One can tackle the subject head on, as was the case with Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda, films which were situated in the middle of the horror and the atrocities of the Jewish and Tutsi genocides, respectively. Ararat, however, takes a different tack: it is a film about the making of a film about genocide.

I won't go into the details of the film--it's a complex, multi-layered story, rewarding if ultimately a little frustrating--but suffice it to say, Ararat ends up being about more than just genocide; it probes the nature of truth, and of memory; it explores the relationship between art and life, between the imagination and reality.

Of course, Ararat isn't unique; there are other films about the making of films. Recently, there was A Cock And Bull Story, by Michael Winterbottom (whose In This World was shown at SFC), which is about a predictably disastrous attempt to film Laurence Sterne's novel, Tristam Shandy. Surely there are more examples, though I can't seem to think of any at the moment. Can anyone else?


Blogger Nicholas said...

Adaptation (another SFC film) is a movie about making a movie--sort of. And Lost in La Mancha was meant to be a making-of documentary about a Terry Gilliam film that never actually got made--so it's a not-making-of movie. All a little too meta-meta....

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Georgia said...

Two that spring to mind are Truffaut's Day for Night - one of his silliest films, in my opinion - and Almodóvar's Bad Education (shown at SFC last year).

And there are tons of others that I'm sure I'll think of as soon as I hit the "Publish" button.

6:59 PM  
Blogger alastair said...

Recent US indie example is Tom DeCillo's 'Living in Oblivion'. A director who is now probably best known for giving Brad Pitt some of his earliest exposure in 'Johnny Suede'.

4:57 PM  

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