Open City Documentary Festival

7 – 13 September 2022
in London

Sylvia Kristel – Paris + Maria Schneider, 1983

Location Curzon Soho, Date Event has passed

Sylvia Kristel – Paris

Manon de Boer | 2003 | Belgium | 39’ | digital | French spoken, English subtitles   

Sylvia Kristel – Paris is a portrait of Sylvia Kristel, a Dutch actress best known for her role in the 1970s erotic cult classic Emmanuelle. It is also a film about the impossibility of memory in relation to biography and the inability to “plot” somebody’s life like a coherent narrative. In de Boer’s work there is often an evacuation of the visual image which gives way to a prominence of the soundtrack and/or voiceover. The filmmaker is consistently interested in unsettling the traditional hierarchy of image over sound, exploring the disjunctures between sound and image that are characteristic of cinematic modernity. In Sylvia Kristel – Paris, Kristel’s voice and image are always kept separate. Shots of modern-day Paris – quasistatic in their duration and timeless in their analogue film stock quality and colour tones – free space for the spectator to concentrate on the soundtrack: an account of Sylvia Kristel’s years in Paris, recorded twice with subtle but meaningful differences between both versions. 


Maria Schneider, 1983 

Elisabeth Subrin | 2022 | France | 24’ | digital | French, English spoken with English subtitles 

The starting point for Elisabeth Subrin’s Maria Schneider, 1983 is a 1980s TV interview with the French actress that Subrin encountered whilst developing a feature-length biopic about Schneider. The conversation with a journalist from Cinéma Cinémas takes a turn when Schneider is asked about her experience shooting the controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972) and decides to call out the film industry’s discriminatory practices. Re-enacted by actresses Manal Issa, Aïssa Maïga and Isabel Sandoval (also an acclaimed director), each performance adds new layers to the original conversation, bringing it to the present moment.

Ed Halter has previously written that Subrin’s work “presents the act of discerning between history and subjectivity as a necessary yet inherently impossible task, a project we are asked to undertake despite the knowledge that our findings will always be incomplete. Engaging with stories of women’s lives, Subrin embraces the contradictions between the empirical needs of feminist historiography and the radical unsurety of postmodern thinking.” 

Followed by a conversation with Elisabeth Subrin and Elena Gorfinkel