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THE DEVIL, PROBABLY

January 4–February 11, 2014
All screenings at the Northwest Film Center Whitsell Auditorium.

In January and February, Yale Union and Northwest Film Center will present a series of documentary films that record how material and immaterial goods are produced and distributed. A few of the films were commissioned by companies to represent select interests, but the majority were made by filmmakers with an imperative to record and scrutinize goods as we don’t see them—in the process of their becoming. An object is always more than what it is: a brick is never only a brick, an egg never merely an egg. It travels through geography, laborers, political ideologies, machinery, social configurations and carries forward a history (mostly obstructed), belonging first to those who produced it, and later to those who bought, used, sold, or consumed it.

Central to the program is the insight that with the advent of cinema, the world became visible in a whole new way, and still most films take place in that part of life where we are left to believe that work does not exist, in that part of life where goods appear as if they were immaculately conceived. These films consistently work against this lack of representation and describe the politics, processes, facilities, locations, and durations of how things are made and transported.

Most of these films are regarded as examples of contrary and aggressive political filmmaking. Arguments, if you will. And no argument of any kind has its complete meaning alone. Its significance, its validity, and the appreciation of its complexity is the appreciation of it in relation to the arguments around it. You cannot admire or deride a film alone; you must set it, for contrast and comparison, among its neighbors.

Each week, readings will be made available.

Curated by Robert Snowden and Lucas Quigley. This program is inconceivable without the example of Allan Sekula (1951–2013). Thanks to Thom Andersen, Thomas Beard, Katie Burkart, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Ted Fendt, Morgan Fisher, Simon Friedland, Alexander Kluge, Melinda Kowalska, Cheng-Sim Lim, Tobi Maier, Arika Oglesbee, Andy Rector, Morgen Ruff, Alex Smith, and Lisa Truttmann.

THE DEVIL, PROBABLY
Expenses

Exhibition Pamphlet

Saturday, January 4, 6:30pm

In Comparison
Harun Farocki
Germany, 2009, 16mm, 61 min.
This film lives in many technological centuries. It observes modes of brick production as they are today in Africa, India, and Europe…[MORE]

Sunday, January 5, 4:30pm

Genesis of a Meal
Luc Moullet
France, 1979, DVD, 115 min.
A long-time critic for Cahiers du Cinema, Luc Moullet makes an economic comparison (from production to consumption) of a can of Senegalese tuna, French eggs, and an Ecuadorian banana…[MORE]

Friday, January 10, 7pm

The Song of Styrene
Alain Resnais
France, 1959, DVD, 19 min.
Commissioned by the Pechiney company to show off the merits of plastics, this industrial film was written by Raymond Queneau…[MORE]

Slow Glass
John Smith
UK, 1991, 16mm, 40 min.
A requiem told by a laconic glazier who weighs the past against the future, cannot give either preference, and finds nothing to grumble about save the way time goes…[MORE]

Speaker: Thomas Beard

Thursday, January 16, 7pm

Meat
Frederick Wiseman
US, 1976, 16mm, 112 min.
Slow is not boring. Only boring is boring. Wiseman regards the factness of the Monfort Meat Packing Company in real time…[MORE]

Saturday, January 18, 4pm

Dust
Hartmut Bitomsky
Germany, 2007, 35mm, 90 min.
Through a series of interviews and expository observances, Bitomsky establishes dust as both a product and byproduct of industrialization whose management creates a number of jobs in different industries…[MORE]

Speaker: Hartmut Bitomsky

Sunday, January 19, 7pm

About the History of Paper, Part 1
Peter and Zsóka Nestler
Sweden, 1972, 16mm, 25 min.

Mining and Ironworks, Part 2
Peter and Zsóka Nestler
Sweden, 1975, 16mm, 31 min.

About the Advent of the Printing Press
Peter and Zsóka Nestler
Sweden, 1971, 16mm, 24 min.
A series of educationally purposive films for Swedish television on the production of objects. These “biographies of objects” observe the history of working techniques, production processes, and materials…[MORE]

Speaker: Hartmut Bitomsky

Friday, January 24, 7pm

The Forgotten Space
Allan Sekula and Noël Burch
US, 2010, Video, 112 min.
A look at container ships and a critique of the global supply chain, its disastrous impact on the environment and workers’ rights, and the standardization of a capitalist world economy…[MORE]

Speaker: Thom Andersen

Saturday, January 25, 7pm

RR
James Benning
US, 2007, 16mm, 111 min.
RR is a series of static shots of trains. There is an empty frame, the train enters, then it passes and leaves. A new empty frame appears, a train enters, then it passes and leaves…[MORE]

Sunday, January 26, 12pm

West of the Tracks
Wang Bing
China, 2003, Video, 551 min.
This three part, nine hour film is that numbered thing—a document of a transition from one economy (state-run) to another (free market) with the fierce authority of someone who has witnessed the repercussions such economic transitions can have on people, place, and morality…[MORE]

Saturday, February 1, 3:30pm

IBM: A Self Portrait
Albert and David Maysles
US, 1964, 16mm, 35 min.
Sponsored and commissioned by IBM in 1964 to put out a nice, affable face and “to search,” as an opening voiceover tells us, “for the particular character of this company”…[MORE]

Toujours plus
Luc Moullet
France, 1993, DVD, 14 min.

Toujours moins
Luc Moullet
France, 2010, DVD, 24 min.

More and More and Less and Less describe the awkward development and expansion, from 1968 to 2010, of commercial space and its automated devices. Less and Less (the title of which refers to the employed) is an update to Moullet’s earlier film, More and More (the title of which refers to products)…[MORE]

The Darty Report
Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville
France, Video, 1989, 50 min.
When commissioned to make an infomercial about an appliance store chain, Godard and Miéville shake their heads yes and no, deflect the straightness of the commercial job, and make an eccentric interrogative film about capitalism…[MORE]

Speaker: Andy Rector

Sunday, February 2, 7pm

The Store
Frederick Wiseman
US, 1983, 16mm, 118 min.
The Store, Wiseman’s first color film, documents the Neiman Marcus flagship store and corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas…[MORE]

Tuesday, February 11, 7pm

An Image
Harun Farocki
Germany, 1983, DVD, 25 min.
Four days spent in a studio working on a centerfold photo for Playboy provide the subject matter for Farocki’s film. [MORE]

Still Life
Harun Farocki
Germany, 1997, DVD, 56 min.
Still Life opens with a section on 17th century Dutch still life painting, and goes on to observe commercial photographers as they shoot ads of immobile cheese, beer, and Cartier watches. [MORE]