“He came to read. He opened two or three books; by historians and poets. But he read for barely ten minutes, and then gave up.” C. Cavafy
A postcard, a souvenir from Athens: sitting on a comfortable rock, a young man is bent over in his thoughts, then straightens up a little to project them on to the landscape; in the background, a ruin; between the two, a few tiny passers-by, two or three stray dogs that break into the frame; and in the air, a record with worn-out grooves, a popular Greek song in which we make out the words: “postcard”, “souvenir from Athens”. Are the films of Jean-Claude Rousseau postcards? Yes, basically: a certain eternity in the stark present of an image, brought back from a place the eye has visited. No, not at all: in the prison of its frame, the postcard image has no continuity, no relationship, except for the misleading link with the words that constitute its verso. Here, as always in Rousseau’s work, the image does not exist without a relationship, first to itself as it is multiplied by the black screens that engulf it several times, as in the very slow blinking of an eye. Emerging every time from this abyss and saving the spectator who had fallen in with it, the image is not quite the same, nor totally different –something like: a souvenir of itself. And what about the very last image, as in truth there are two here (that is: an infinity plus one)? A real phantom, the last one, brought out of a little dust by the record’s silent grooves.
Jean-Claude Rousseau, born in Paris, lived in New York in the 1970s. There he discovered avant-garde cinema at the same time as the films of Ozu. In 1980 he finished writing a screenplay, Le Concert champêtre, and directed his first films. After Les Antiquités de Rome, La Vallée close is his second feature film. Selected by the Locarno Film Festival, he won the Grand Prize for Documentary at Belfort in 1999. In 2001 a tribute was paid to him at the Venice Film Festival, followed by a retrospective at the Jeonju Film Festival. De son appartement won the Grand Prix of the international competition at FIDMarseille in 2007. The same year, the Villa Medicis welcomes him in Rome for a complete program of his films. His films Un monde flottant and Le Tombeau de Kafka were selected in 2021 and 2022 at Cinéma du réel.
Jean-Claude Rousseau - email@example.com