July 8, 2020 - Artist Cinemas - Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux, School #3
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July 8, 2020

Artist Cinemas

Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux, School #3
War and Cinema: Week #4

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Join us on e-flux Video & Film for the online premiere of Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux's School #3, (2017), the fourth installment of War and Cinema, on view from Wednesday, July 8 through Tuesday, July 14, 2020 and featuring an interview with co-director Yelizaveta Smith by Oleksiy Kuchanskyi.

War and Cinema is a six-part program of films, video works, and interviews put together by Oleksiy Radynski. It is the second program in Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film

Artist Cinemas presents War and Cinema
Week #4: Wednesday, July 8–Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux, School #3, 2017
115 minutes

The online premiere of Genoux’s and Smith’s film takes the War and Cinema program to its next phase. Each of the works previously presented by War and Cinema shared a number of common traits. Firstly, they were all made using open-source data, even if their respective authors approached this data with wildly varying attitudes. Furthermore, they were each less concerned with human individuals than they were with current technologies of moving-image production and their implications for human societies. Lastly, all of the films had been available online prior to their screening at e-flux Video & Film. 

In contrast, the remaining half of the War and Cinema program will consist entirely of online premieres. Two of the upcoming releases are focused on the human and social toll of war, rather than on its political and technological roots. This does not mean that they depict the tragedy of warfare at the level of individual drama—a strategy that's been at the root of misrepresentations of war in Capitalist Realism. Instead, these films seek ways of collective action and imagination because of—and in spite of—the war.

One of the episodes of The Battle of Ilovaisk by Forensic Architecture, screened in War and Cinema last week, takes place in an ordinary school in Eastern Ukraine that was converted into an interrogation facility. This week’s film by Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux takes its viewers to a similar school in the same region. The hostilities are over, and the students of School #3 are returning to class, bringing their war traumas along with them. Together with the filmmakers, the students of School #3 created a documentary play that was then developed into a film over the course of two years. In 2017, their eponymous film, School #3, went on to win the Grand-Prix of the Generation 14plus award at the Berlinale.

Excerpt from the interview with Yelizaveta Smith by Oleksiy Kuchanskyi:

Oleksiy Kuchanskyi (OK):
Let’s talk about the locations in the film and your filmic method. I really like the measured emotional tone of School #3. This differentiates your film from most other films made on the subject of the war in Ukraine, which are usually full of pathos. By contrast, your film consists of static frontal shots. It has a reserved rhythm. Why do you think it’s important to make a film about banal, non-heroic, non-tragic, everyday things, depicted in a manner that is devoid of dramatic images, in the midst of militaristic destruction?

Yelizaveta Smith (YS):
We shot a lot of footage, some of which included images of destroyed buildings—but none of that was included during the editing. You see, we had been filming for a very long time—about two years—so it was no longer possible to film from the position of an outside observer. It became clear that the war was not just about the military or infrastructural aftermath. It also had a human face. Even against the background of the war, the teenagers we filmed were dealing with the same things that teenagers dealt with anywhere in the world: they fell in love, drank wine, and listened to music just like everyone else. This was very special.

OK:
Can you tell me a little bit more about this involvement you felt while you were filming?

YS:
The point is that it was not only important for the students to tell their stories, but it was also important for us, the filmmakers, to hear them. It is one thing to be in Kyiv and feel disturbed by the news of what is happening in Eastern Ukraine, but another thing to have it be directly tied to your personal business as well. The film itself is not only the image on the screen, but a result of our need for reciprocal conversation, a result of our co-existence.

Watch the film and read the full interview here.

About the program
War and Cinema traces various cinematic engagements with the war raging in the Eastern margins of the European continent for over six years now—a war that was sparked by the military occupation of Crimea by the Russian military in Spring 2014, and that subsequently consumed large swaths of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine. The program does not represent the fruits of the alleged “boom” in Ukrainian filmmaking that was observed, predictably, with the outbreak of war. Rather, it looks at the margins of image production in wartime. This program also strives to enable conversations between the films that do not necessarily belong to the same cinematic worlds—even if their country of origin remains the same. War and Cinema will run for six weeks from June 17 through July 29, 2020, screening a new film each week accompanied by an interview with the filmmaker(s). Throughout the duration of the program, more information on the films, their makers, and contexts will be published on the program convener's telegram channel

War and Cinema is convened by Oleksiy Radynski.

About the series
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

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