Francofonia by Sokurov at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. April 20 – May 7, 2016. New film from the director of Russian Ark explores the Louvre Museum.
A historical meditation on the Louvre Museum in Paris and the preservation of European culture during the destructive climate of World War Two.
Exploring the Louvre during the Nazi occupation of Paris, as well as its roots under the Monarchy in the Napoleonic era, famed Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov’s newest film Francofonia is a masterful discourse on the nature of museums. The film compels audiences to consider what museums tell us about our grasp of time, their historical function in empire-building, the way in which they foster the harvesting or hoarding of art, and how those very acts alter our understanding of power, both personal and political.
In Francofonia, Sokurov goes beyond the techniques used in his portrayal of the Hermitage Museum in Russian Ark, blending history and fiction, documentary and feature, fact and opinion. Trained as a historian before becoming a filmmaker, the director himself narrates, occasionally delving into European history more broadly and ruminating on the course of Europe today. Yet Francofonia “is not a historical film in the classic sense” according to Sokurov. “I did not want to take a scientific approach, even if I attach great importance to factual details” he says, “Behind any documentary image shot there is an artistic endeavor. This is inevitable. …All this has the same single space in reality.”
The film has at its heart the story of the real-life collaboration between Louvre director Jacques Jaujard and the German officer (a curator, historian and preservationist himself) Count Franziskus Wolf-Metternich, who worked together in tacit alliance to preserve the museum’s treasures. Francofonia encourages viewers to think about the links between appropriation and domination, a political vision of the world together with its aesthetic representation.
It also highlights the special position occupied by museums in the public and civic space of the West today. Using a poetic cinematic style that merges digital camera work, fictionalized recreations, archival footage, and image processing that adds, superimposes or modifies additional visual components and distorts perspective, Sokurov brings a complex subject and set of sources into a unified artistic fabric.
At this year’s Venice Film Festival, Francofonia was nominated for the Golden Lion, and won the Fedeora award for Best Euro-Mediterranean Film, as well as the Fondazione Mimmo Rotella Award. (Russia, 2015, 90 min.).
To compliment Francofonia, the MFA will also present three screenings of Sokurov’s 2002 film Russian Ark on April 22, 23 and 24.
Co-presented with Boston-based Ballets Russes Arts Initiative.
TICKET & VENUE INFORMATION: Tickets may be purchased online at www.mfa.org/film, by calling the MFA Ticketing Line at 800.440.6975, or in person at any MFA ticket desk. Tickets are $9 for MFA members, $11 for nonmembers, $5 for students at local universities.