Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Jess Franco (1930-2013)

Last week Rouzbeh Rashidi, Vicky Langan and I were in Limerick for a public discussion of our work. At one point, Rouzbeh went on record with these words: "It has become clear that we want to make films like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, not like Tarkovsky or Bresson."

One of the works we showed on the programme that night was Dirt, which Vicky and I dedicated to Lina Romay, Franco's star, wife and muse, on the occasion of her death last year.

When, on hearing of Franco's death today, I visited the round-up of tributes at Catherine Grant's site, the first thing I saw were my own words on the screen before me:

Serge Daney distinguishes between love of cinema and passion for cinema. The latter state concerns the expressive evolution and refinement of the art, typified by the work, one might suppose, of such singular giants as Godard, Dreyer and Garrel. Love of cinema, on the other hand, is fetishistic, stemming from contentment with the medium as it already is. In the acceptance speech [Jess] Franco made on receiving his honorary lifetime achievement Goya award this February [2009], he described himself as simply ‘a man in love with cinema'. Perhaps nowhere better than in Jess Franco's oeuvre is ‘love of cinema' embodied. Yet complacency is hardly the first quality one associates with Franco's often defiantly free, personal and gloriously extreme riffs on familiar B cinema patterns. The fevered mirror he holds up to cinema reveals not a static museum of ossified formulas but a rich arsenal of figurative possibilities. Jess Franco is cinema- cinema in all its crassness, vulgarity, brutality, puerility, vitality, invention, wonder, joy, eroticism, poetry, violence, bizarreness, obsessiveness, mystery. And, of course, addictiveness.

At least three of my videos contain found footage echoes of Franco's films.

I am a man haunted by- sometimes even tormented by- Jess Franco's cinema.

May he rest in peace, having left behind him so many beautiful ghosts.



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