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Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa

Thursday, March 6, 2008
8:45 p.m. Sicilia!
Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet (Italy/France, 1999)

Pedro Costa in Person

Two of cinema’s most uncompromising auteurs, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, create a bold and beautiful adaptation of Elio Vittorini’s masterwork, Conversations in Sicily. Published in 1939, and a bestseller until it was banned in 1942, the novel narrates the return of an intellectual to his native Sicily after a long absence. The film is structured as a series of dialogue encounters—with strangers in a port, fellow passengers on a train, the protagonist’s mother—each of which conceals more than it reveals, emphasizing the distance between what can be seen and felt and what can be expressed. Moving beyond the original’s immediate context—the increasing oppression of prewar Italy—Straub and Huillet offer a moving look at the state of permanent exile common to all of those who can’t go home again.

Presented in memory of Danièle Huillet, who passed away in 2006.

—New York Film Festival 1999

• Written by Huillet, Straub, based on the novel Conversation in Sicily by Elio Vittorini. Photographed by William Lubtchansky. With Gianni Buscarino, Angela Nugara, Vittorio Vigneri, Carmelo Maddio. (66 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

Preceded by short:
6 Bagatelas (Pedro Costa, Portugal/France, 2003). A collection of six unseen snippets from Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (18 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, Beta SP, From Pedro Costa)

• (Total running time: 84 mins)