September 14, 2007 - The Museum of Modern Art, New York - Presents Pere Portabella
September 14, 2007

Presents Pere Portabella

<p> <i>The Silence before Bach</i>. 2007. Spain.<br>
Directed by <i>Pere Portabella</i>

Pere Portabella
September 26 – October 6, 2007

The Roy and Niuta Titus
1 and 2 Theaters
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St.
New York, NY 10019

Exhibition Includes U.S. Premiere of The Silence before Bach
New York University Presents Two-Day Symposium on Portabella

The Museum of Modern Art presents a retrospective of the films of veteran Catalan political filmmaker Pere Portabella (b. 1929, Barcelona). A director at the forefront of avant-garde Spanish cinema, Portabella has, over the past 40 years, produced a wide range of narrative and documentary works known for the formal beauty of their composition, a complex interrelationship of image and sound, and, often, their symbolic resistance to the 1939-75 regime of General Francisco Franco. Portabella has also expanded the expressive potential of the medium by subverting the notion of genre, particularly for horror films, fantasy films, and thrillers.

Presented from September 26 to October 6, 2007, in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, Pere Portabella features the director’s first appearance in the United States, for the U.S. premiere of his latest film The Silence before Bach (2007). A Portabella film was first screened at MoMA in 1972 (Vampir Cuadecuc [1970]), but the director was not permitted to travel to the U.S. to introduce it, as his passport had been revoked by the right-wing Spanish government for co-producing Luis Buñuel’s controversial Viridiana (1961).

The exhibition is organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Mark Nash, Professor and Head of the Department Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London.

The 14-film series features the avant-garde horror films Vampir Cuadecuc and Umbracle (1972), both starring Christopher Lee; the powerful documentary General Report on Some Interesting Facts for a Public Showing (1976); and The Silence before Bach, which explores the transformation of our experience of the world through music. Another highlight is a quartet of films chronicling the Catalan artist Joan Miró and his works.

In conjunction with MoMA’s retrospective, Portabella makes his first U.S. appearances at roundtable discussions. Dialogues take place at New York University on September 27 and 28, with Mark Nash and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, and with Richard Peña, director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and at the world premiere of The Silence before Bach at MoMA on September 26, with Laurence Kardish.
Pere Portabella is made possible with the support of the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX). Films and texts for the exhibition were lent by the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona) and Portabella’s own production company, Films 59. Additional support and programs are provided by two New York University Centers: the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center and the Catalan Center. Additional assistance was provided by Anabel García and Marta Rincón of SEACEX, Marcelo Expósito and Jorge Ribalta of the MACBA, and Mary Ann Newman and Laura Turégano at NYU.


Screenings begin Wednesday, September 26, and run through Saturday, October 6. For a complete screening schedule, visit or call (212) 708-9480.
For tickets, please visit
For press inquiries, please contact Paul Power at (212) 708-9847 or


Pere Portabella: A Catalan Master Filmmaker in New York (At Last)
Thursday, September 27-Friday, September 28, 2007
The King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center
New York University
53 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012

In conjunction with MoMA’s retrospective Pere Portabella, The King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, The Catalan Center, and the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University present dialogues with Portabella and scholarly sessions with international film critics and experts in his films. For more information, please visit

September 27:
4:00-5:30 p.m. Portabella, Thirty Years at The MoMA
With Portabella, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Mark Nash

September 28:
1:00-2:30 p.m. Portabella in Context
With Marcelo Expósito, Santos Zunzunegui, and Jo Labanyi

3:00-4:00 p.m. Portabella in the Catalan Context
Lecture by Fèlix Fanés

4:00-5:30 p.m. Portabella and the Creative Process
With Portabella and Richard Peña
In English, Spanish, and Catalan. Simultaneous translation will be provided. This event is free and open to the public.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
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