In which Pamela Cohn casts light on Pirjo Honkasalo’s The Trilogy of the Sacred and the Satanic.
In Neither/Nor, True/False spotlights repertory work that broadens the boundaries of nonfiction filmmaking as well as film writers who are sharp interpreters of this exhilarating and fraught art. This year, we are turning our attention to one director, Pirjo Honkasalo, and three connected journeys she embarked on throughout the 1990s: The Trilogy of the Sacred and the Satanic.
The three films in this series are all the work of masterful but modest crews placing themselves in intense and disorienting real world situations. They raise vital questions about the observational documentary camera. Is this device, which we often associate with an empirical truth, capable of capturing sacred relationships, or is the act of trying to do so a sin? If humans form spiritual bonds, is there a place for the camera within them? And are there images we should never see?
Pirjo Honkasalo is one of the leading fiction directors in her home country of Finland. At 29, she directed what was then the country’s most expensive film, Flame Top (1980). Concerned about the direction her life was headed, she turned to nonfiction filmmaking as an attempt “to see behind the rational.”
In the 1990’s, Honkasalo was an established name. She was the first woman cinematographer in Finland to shoot a feature, and, at age 29, she directed what was then the country’s most expensive film, Flame Top (1980). Mysterion was her first documentary feature. Throughout all three films, Honkasalo raises provocative questions about a documentary camera’s abilities. Is this device, which we often associate with an empirical truth, capable of capturing sacred relationships, or is the act of trying to do so a sin.
FILMS & EVENTS
The Trilogy of the Sacred and the Satanic consists of Mysterion (1991), Tanjuska and the 7 Devils (1993), and Atman (1996). Over the past few years, Honkasalo has worked with the Finnish company Cinepro to digitally restore the three films in this trilogy. True/False represents the first time the restored trilogy has been presented together.
The 3 Rooms of Melancholia
Wednesday, Feb 27 / 6pm / Ragtag Cinema
The series officially begins with a reception for Honkasalo at 6pm followed by a 6:45pm screening of her masterpiece, The 3 Rooms of Melancholia.
Tickets for this screening will be available starting at noon Feb. 27 at the Ragtag Cinema box office.
Saturday, Mar 2 / 2pm / Willy Wilson @ Ragtag
Given the sensitive nature of these films, they will not be participating in Q&As immediately following the screenings. Instead, Honkasolo will discuss the films at length in an extended masterclass moderated by curator-critic Pamela Cohn.
Ticketed, free admission via the Q. On the schedule as #45.
MASTERCLASS WITH PIRJO HONKASOLO
Pamela Cohn is an American film curator and writer based in Europe and the UK. She programs for DokuFest, The International Documentary and Short Film Festival in Prizren, Kosovo, and has worked for True/False, the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, and DocPoint in Helsinki, Finland, among other festivals. She is a contributing writer and interviewer for Filmmaker Magazine, The Calvert Journal and BOMB Magazine. She is the author of a forthcoming collection of long-form conversations with moving image artists and filmmakers called Lucid Dreaming: Making Personal Nonfiction Cinema in the Twenty-First Century, to be published this autumn with O/R Books, New York.
NEITHER/NOR IS SUPPORTED BY A FILMWATCH GRANT FROM THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES ARTS AND SCIENCES