A Song of Love
Directed by Jean Genet
Running time: 26 minutes
These film choices come from a time when I was trying to reconcile the world as it is lived and the world as a representation. Chant d'Amour , like La Jetee also concerns love, loss and longing. The repeated attempt to catch the bunch of flowers reminds me of "Hand Catching Lead" of Richard Serra : a similar physicality but here all about sex. The way that a rugged masculinity is combined with tenderness and violence cut with the dream of a summer pastoral makes it memorable. This is a gay movie but what interests me is the tension between desire and imagination, sexual energy and its containment.
Antony Gormley 2013
Jean Genet's only film, directed in 1950, A Song of Love (Un Chant d'Amour) was banned for much of its existence and even disowned by Genet in later life due to its explicit content. Shot with an unprofessional cast chosen by Genet from his circle of Montmartre friends, the film is set in a French prison, where men are incarcerated in isolation and consistently spied on by a tormenting guard. A silent, poetic and intensely physical vision of homosexual desire, the film focuses on the relationship between an Algerian man and a younger inmate (played by 18 year old Lucien Sénémaud, Genet's lover at the time) who inhabit adjoining cells. Despite their surveillance, the couple devise a way to communicate their passion by sharing cigarette smoke through a crack in the wall, incensing the guard to violence. A complex and disturbing film, A Song of Love is a key work in the fight against censorship, a cause célèbre of gay rights and freedom of expression which examines notions of repression, desire and control. Shot without any dialogue, and with cinematography by Jean Cocteau, the film has influenced a generation of avant-garde films, in particular in the sexually charged short films of Andy Warhol.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.