01 MAY — 11 MAY 2024

01 MAY — 11 MAY 2024

Retrospective: Jan Švankmajer, the Surrealist

The retrospective of IndieLisboa’s 20th edition takes us to the former Czechoslovakia: one of the most interesting and indispensable living directors, Jan Švankmajer, is the master under the spotlight of 2023, whose work will be screened at Cinemateca Portuguesa, in its usual programming partnership with the festival, from April 27 to May 7.

Between repulsion and fascination, the films of the visual artist turned filmmaker, who took his first steps in the theatre at the Laterna Magika, reflect a subconscious world, where matter takes on a new enchanted form. In 1964, he produced his first short film, The Last Trick, that uses actors as puppets, opening the doors to another dimension where reality makes room to illusion. Today, his body of work includes over thirty films that are stylistically unforgettable for their richness and diversity: they combine actors and animation, drawing, clay, collage and puppetry, in subversive works that mix dark humour into the sinister. The editing rhythm of his films is essential to his episodic creations, whose themes speak to us of food, but also of decomposition, often taking us to the memory of childhood and the world of dreams.

Internationally renowned for his animations, in particular for the use of the stop motion technique, rather than manipulating ordinary objects, which exist stuck in the banality of their existence, the filmmaker brings them back to life, uncovering their hidden natures and revealing all their secrets, as in Meat Love (1989), where two pieces of meat fall in love with each other before ending up in a frying pan. Švankmajer’s surrealist universe, which also includes Alice (1987) and Faust (1994), two prise-winning adaptations at the Berlin and Cannes film festivals respectively, turns him into a singular artist, capable of transforming the world, using magic to decipher its mysteries.

In 2022, Jan Švankmajer announced his retirement from cinema, and Kunstkamera (2022) will be his last film. This cycle is a perfect opportunity to discover the artist who influenced such idiosyncratic directors as Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. Jan Švankmajer, The Surrealist opens with Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), a grotesque black comedy about a group of hedonists that mixes animation and live-action. Jaromír Kallista, Švankmajer’s regular producer and collaborator, will be in Lisbon for a conference at the Cinemateca Portuguesa. The schedule of screenings will be announced soon. IndieLisboa – International Film Festival returns to Lisbon cinemas from April 27.

List of films

Feature films:

Alice, Jan Švankmajer, 1987, 84′
Faust, Jan Švankmajer, 1994, 90′
Conspirators of Pleasure, Jan Švankmajer, 1996, 75′
Little Otik, Jan Švankmajer, 2000, 127′
Lunacy, Jan Švankmajer, 2005, 118′
Surviving Life, Jan Švankmajer, 2010, 105′
Insects, Jan Švankmajer, 2018, 98′
Athanor: The Alchemical Furnace, Adam Ol’ha/Jan Daňhel, doc., 2020, 117′
Kunstkamera, Jan Švankmajer, 2022, 51′

Short films:

The Last Trick, Jan Švankmajer, 1964, 10′
Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasy in G minor, Jan Švankmajer, 1965, 8′
A Game with Stones, Jan Švankmajer, 1965, 8′
Punch and Judy, Jan Švankmajer, 1966, 10′
Et Cetera, Jan Švankmajer, 1966, 8′
Historia Naturae (Suita), Jan Švankmajer, 1967, 9′
The Flat, Jan Švankmajer, 1968, 13′
Picnic with Weissmann, Jan Švankmajer, 1969, 13′
A Quiet Week in the House, Jan Švankmajer, 1969, 13′
Don Juan, Jan Švankmajer, 1970, 30′
The Ossuary, Jan Švankmajer, 1970, 10′
Jabberwocky, Jan Švankmajer, 1971, 12′
Leonardo’s Diary, Jan Švankmajer, 1972, 10′
Castle of Otranto, Jan Švankmajer, 1973, 17′
The Fall of the House of Usher, Jan Švankmajer, 1980, 15′
Dimensions of Dialogue, Jan Švankmajer, 1982, 11′
Down to the Cellar, Jan Švankmajer, 1982, 14′
The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope, Jan Švankmajer, 1983, 15′
Virile Games, Jan Švankmajer, 1988, 15′
Hugh Cornwell: Another Kind of Love, Jan Švankmajer, 1988, 4′
Meat Love, Jan Švankmajer, 1989, 1′
Darkness/Light/Darkness, Jan Švankmajer, 1989, 10′
Flora, Jan Švankmajer, 1989, 20”
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia, Jan Švankmajer, 1990, 10′
The Food, Jan Švankmajer, 1992, 17′