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Scratch Projection / February 4, 2020


Presented by Federico Rossin, programmer and film historian
Organized in partnership with the Bismuth Lemaître Guymer Endowment Fund

In 1951, Maurice Lemaître is twenty-five years old. He has just finished working as Isidore Isou’s assistant director on the production of Traité de bave et d'éternité (Venom and Eternity). Le Film est déjà commencé?, his first film, will be the foundation of a seemingly endless cinematographic body of work, dozens and dozens of films directed in complete economic and artistic autonomy until his death in 2018.

Le Film est déjà commencé? is a major work in the history of cinema. Lemaître mercilessly destroys every element of traditional cinematic projection. The film is almost entirely “stolen” from other films. This détournement exposes the absurdity of cinema produced by capital through an operation that is as playful as it is conceptual. The image and its materiality are attacked with a chiseling that flakes, recolors, scrapes the film strip. The sound is ripped from the original images, and the new soundtrack thus created is completely detached from them; this is a commentary/meta-commentary on the piece itself, and Lemaître’s voice accompanies us throughout the film. The screen is denounced as a simple flat and illusionist prop, going to the extreme conclusion of its destruction by fire. The screening space is directly occupied by the film, and the spectators are implicated in a kind of provocative happening of which they are simultaneously actors and victims: quarrels, insults and provocations incite the spectators to surpass the passivity of a traditional screening in order to bring cinema into life. Clearly, Lemaître has invented a new artistic form: syncinéma is nothing other than a collective piece based on deconstruction, derision and participation.

What we will attempt to do, for the occasion of the premiere of the restored 35mm version of the film, is to get as close as possible to the performative and avant-gardist utopia theorized and realized by Maurice Lemaître, filmmaker, painter and lettrist poet who has marked the history of art of the 20th century by inventing a unique spectator experience, a total artistic event where destruction and innovation intermix in a joyful and unforgettable disorder.
- Federico Rossin

Le Film est déjà commencé? was restored and digitized with the support of the CNC, under Light Cone’s direction and with the participation of the Bismuth Lemaître Guymer Endowment Fund.

For the occasion of this special event, Light Cone Editions will present a new publication: « Nous sommes d’accord avec tout ce qui a lutté et lutte encore depuis le début du monde » : Introduction au Cinéma lettriste (“We Support Everything since the Dawn of Time That Has Struggled and Still Struggles”, Introduction to Lettrist Cinema) by Nicole Brenez, a text that has been published in English (2014, Sternberg Press) and in Spanish (2019, Carlos Prieto Acevedo), but has not been available in France until now. The book will be offered free of charge to audience members at the screening.

A limited and numbered silkscreen re-edition of the original poster of the film will be available for sale at the event, as well as other publications (books, DVDs, Blu-Rays) on Maurice Lemaître’s work.

This Scratch screening will be exceptionally free (cinema capacity: 180 seats) and will be followed by a cordial reception.


Tuesday February 04, 2020, 20:30

by Maurice LEMAÎTRE
1951 / 35mm / color / sound / 62' 00


address Luminor Hôtel de Ville
20 rue du Temple
75004 Paris
metro Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 & 11) / Châtelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11 & 14) / Les Halles (RER A, B & D)
tel +33 (0)1 46 59 01 53
email lightcone@lightcone.org
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