Picnic at Hanging Rock + Intermission + Kin-Dza-Dza!

Picnic at Hanging Rock 

Peter Weir, Australia, 1975/1998, DCP, 107’


Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is (like the Joan Lindsay novel it adapts) unclassifiable to any specific genre: is it cosmic horror? A period piece? A coming-of-age story of the bored and repressed elite? However, its influence — its look, feel and tone — is undeniable, across a host of different filmmakers and contexts, from fashion photographers to David Lynch. Picnic displays the trappings of one 19th-century Australian girls’ school, opening with the students’ yearly Valentine’s day excursion to Hanging Rock. Amidst the gauzy haze, in the shadow of the splendorous edifice, several of the picnickers decide to climb the mountain, seemingly called by some higher power to climb and climb. When the girls fail to return, a hysteria grips the local community, and we follow the stories of those left behind, attempting to wrest a stable response to that most elusive question: “What the fuck is going on?”

Behind This Soft Eclipse 

Eve Heller, Canada, 2004, 16mm, 10’


I was imagining a collaboration of parallel worlds or a kind of doubled consciousness, a sense of the corporeal and the riddle of absence. The body of the film depends on a spine of interlocking contrasts in the form of negative and positive space, day and night shots, under and above water elements. These are cut on motion and qualities of light that are sometimes gentle and sometimes jarring, to convey the tender labor of hosting a balance. (Eve Heller)


Georgiy Daneliya, USSR, 1986, DCP, 135’


“A capitalist country,” remarks one of our two heroes, transported from the chilly comforts of Soviet Russia to the sun-scorched planet Pluke in the titular galaxy. Known for his exquisite series of “sad comedies,” director Daneliya took a violent turn into the absurd with this acid portrait of man’s inhumanity to man, which of course heeds neither national nor galactic boundaries. Sometimes excitedly deemed a Soviet Star Wars, the comparison makes an odd sort of sense if one imagines the sinister Empire emerging from the bowels of Kafka’s castle rather than old action serials. A wise Soviet filmmaker, Daneliya’s satire is broad and all-purpose, dealing with the brutality and stupidity of man’s attempts at order rather than the brutality and stupidity of any one order in particular, and can thus be appreciated by anyone at any time on any planet. (Daniel Witkin)

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