2 December 2016


Talk and screening as part of the exhibition "Straub/Huillet/Weiss. Alienation Towards Our Small Familiar World", introduced by Tobias Hering

Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet:
Fortini/Cani, 1976, 83 min

"The terrace was shaded in the morning. Then it was all warmed by the sun. Around were trees and flowers, clarity and light. Many were the voices of the birds. Behind the house rose the mountain, covered in foliage. In front, hedges and fields descending, and the sea, calm and azure. The small patio on which Straub’s collaborators moved about was a circumscribed space, a ceremonial stage. On that stage I spent ten days repeating the names of my adolescence, the words of my father, the horror and shame from which we had all emerged. The entire reality of the ‘materialist’ struggle between classes was included in those idyllic colours and for us was inseparable from the birdsongs." (from Franco Fortini, "A Note for Jean-Marie Straub", in: Franco Fortini, Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, "Les Chiens du Sinaï, Fortini/Cani", Les Cahier du Cinéma, 1979)

In "Fortini/Cani", Franco Fortini reads on this terrace long extracts from his essay "I Cani del Sinai" (The Dogs of the Sinai), written in 1967 under the immediate impression of the six-day war. The militant pamphlet against pro-Israeli partisanship and anti-Arab racism in most Western media grows into an autobiographical stock-taking by a communist intellectual who grew up in a bourgeois Jewish family in Florence, witnessed the fascist era and joined the Resistenza during the War. Fortini’s text is the matrix of this film; his voice and his body carry the continuum from the past to the present. The images, in which Straub and Huillet make the text inscribe itself, show both the presence and the absence of what Fortini speaks about. Places which seem to stand for the past turn into stages for a future, "if someone will come to want it", as Fortini puts it in the text already cited above.

Tobias Hering is an independent curator and writer and lives in Berlin. He is co-curator (together with Annett Busch) of the program cycle "Sagen Sie’s den Steinen", dedicated to the work of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, at Akademie der Künste, Berlin, in the fall 2017.


Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet: Fortini/Cani, 1976
Courtesy by Straub Huillet Films, BELVA Film