"With cities, it is as with dreams…their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else." (Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities)
Inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, this collection of feature-length and short films explores imagined and imaginary cities on screen, while reflecting on the relationship between city and storytelling. Rich in dreamlike texture and pondering atmosphere, the season showcases representations of city spaces where the connection between urban, filmic and narrated vividly emerges. Curated as part of the Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA, this four-part programme is framed as a conversation between the audience and cinema by way of the city.
Our journey starts in Istanbul, with Innocence of Memories (2015), Grant Gee’s dreamlike combination of remembrance, reading and imagination and the city where these intertwine. We then set off to Venice, roaming the deserted canals of the lagoon-based city accompanied by director Andrea Segre, who in his UK premiere Molecole (2020) offers a personal account and cinematic ode both to his father and to a city devoid of its common, glamourized meaning. This is paired with Hiwa (2017), Jacqueline Lentzou’s floating journey through Athens seen through the eyes of a Filipino man on a personal quest to save his daughters.
We then wander until Victoria (2020)’s California City, an imagined urban landscape where a young man is trying to build a life where are no bricks. We venture into the space between invented mind and fabricated map of View From Above (2017), where the city is only a blurred description, to then reach the spectral, liquid Tokyo of Lois Patiño’s UK premiere El Sembrador de estrellas (2022), which melds an existential duologue musing on life and death into a hypnotic light show for the senses. Our urban journey ends in Alejandro Perez and Alejandro Alonso’s Terranova (2021), a metaphysical audiovisual essay that disentangle the very essence of a city, which also receives its UK premiere.
With screening taking place on the 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th of November 2022 at Close Up Film Centre, and featuring a booklet with essays on the films, introductions and Q&As with the directors, the season invites us to reflect on our experience of city living, and on the way we conceive what a city is. Hence, cinema is employed as the visual language that captures the essence of these cities, making them visible.
See complete season info and book ticketshere:
Close-Up Film Centre website.
Massimo Iannetti, Film Curator
- Saturday 12th November | Innocence of Memories | Close Up Film Centre | 6 pm
INNOCENCE OF MEMORIES
Dir: Grant Gee | United Kingdom / Turkey | 2015 | 97 mins
Languages: English and Turkish
Grant Gee turns his lens toward Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, to Istanbul and to the Museum of Innocence – both actual and fictional – that he opened there. Gliding through the streets of the city, the film tells the tale of the forbidden love affair between wealthy Kemal and shop assistant Fusun, told through the trinkets, photos and household objects displayed like clues and scattered memories in the cabinets of this small, humane and beguiling space of memorialization.
Based on the novel by the same author, Innocence of Memories is a psycho-geographical journey through an urban “galaxy of signs” and into Orhan Pamuk's multimedia creation. Dexterously mixing imagined narratives with real-world reflections, the film melds a fictional narrator’s recollections of a story tucked in the cobbles of the city and in the words of a book with a travelogue through memory and the breathing chemistry of the city.
- Sunday 13th November | Hiwa / Molecole | Close Up Film Centre | 6 pm
Dir: Jacqueline Lentzou | Greece | 2017 | 11 mins
Filipino with English Subtitles
Have you ever dreamed of a place you have never been to? Jacqueline Lentzou’s nightmarish vision follows Jay, a Filipino man who wakes up in Manila, yet he dreamed of Athens, roaming the cityscape on a special quest to save his two daughters, while narrating his dream to his wife. Both surreal and contemplative, the city in this evocative short gradually takes on the appearance of the dream it recounts.
Dir: Andrea Segre | Italy | 2020 | 68 mins
Italian with English Subtitles
Shot between February and April 2020, Molecole follows its director as he navigates between the canals of a Venice seemingly frozen and emptied out of its foreign inhabitants, while reflecting on the memory of a turbulent relationship with his father. Trapped in his never truly own hometown, Segre reveals a place behind the idyllic, suspended between emptiness and disappearing, grandiosity and fragility, discovering what lies beneath the now suddenly calm surface of the lagoon-based city.
Filmed whilst working on two projects about the city’s major ills, high water and tourism, Segre off-screen voice guides us through a truthful and touchingly personal meditation of what it means to be Venetian, whilst mourning on the muddled relationship with his birthplace as he once knew it. Blending poetry and simplicity, Molecole is an intimate dialogue with the inescapable which ‘simply poured out, like water’.
- Saturday 19th November | Victoria | Close Up Film Centre | 6 pm
Dirs: Sofie Benoot, Liesbeth De Ceulaer, Isabelle Tollenaere | Belgium | 2020 | 71 mins
Streets with names but without inhabitants. Cal City is not California, nor is it a city. In the Mojave Desert lies an half-abandoned, half-finished, sparse plan of a city that was intended to become the third largest urban enclave in the state, and the rivalling twin city of Los Angeles had it been completed. Today, in a grid of crumbling buildings, Lashay T. Warren, who left his turbulent life in LA to make a fresh start in this promised land, roams the deserted streets, collecting images, encounters and words for his diary.
As the modern-day pioneers it follows, Victoria thoughtfully and unhurriedly sets foot in a once imagined urban settlement, trying to make sense of a missing place, mapping out the intangible and exploring a world of ghosts and beauty. Blending documentary and fiction, the directorial trio fashions a lyrical meditation on space, place and the importance of belonging, even to the invisible.
- Sunday 20th November | View From Above / El sembrador de estrellas / Terranova | Close Up Film Centre | 6 pm
- BOOK NOW
VIEW FROM ABOVE
Dir: Hiwa K | Germany | 2017 | 13 mins
During an interview to qualify as refugees from Iraq and access the safe zone of Kurdistan, people are asked detailed descriptions of the city they claim to come from, which are scrupulously matched and mapped to confirm they are telling the truth. Many of them have difficulty proving that, facing the risk of being sent back. View From Above is an audio-visual diary of struggle and solidarity, found somewhere between the map and the mind, the real and the fictitious – stitched together from fragments of projected urban landscapes and designed human narrations.
EL SEMBRADOR DE ESTRELLAS
Dir: Lois Patiño | Spain | 2022 | 25 mins
Japanese with English subtitles
Distant lights draw the outline of a city, whilst shining ships cross the water with sleeping people. As the night melts into a liquid dream, two voices travel through the city, talking about this and that, and say goodbye to everything.
Coast of Death and Red Moon Tide director Lois Patiño crafts a mesmerizing, nocturnal journey through Tokyo, superimposing images on un indefinable urban space, a limbo existing in-between sleep and wake, tradition and modernity, life and death. Between voiceover and literature references, El Sembrador de estrellas is a metaphysical reflection on existence drawing the contours of the unreal.
Dirs: Alejandro Pérez Serrano, Alejandro Alonso Estrella | Cuba | 2021 | 50 mins
Spanish with English Subtitles
Cities do not repeat themselves, they transmute. Some are created by philosophical ideas, others by narration, others are just dreams. Terranova is all of this, and more. It is a city made of reflections, memories of other cities, and visions of the future. A city preparing for an inevitable change, both physical and spiritual, a ritual taking shape when images dematerialize. A city that defies the city.
By grounding myths in a contemporary reading, Terranova is a poetic and philosophical subversion of the city symphony, moving on the margins of the surreal, between amorphous structures and distorted perspectives. By swiftly alternating between the concrete and the abstract, the film confronts us with a non-place made of lost memories and uncertain futures and with a question: ‘What is the city to you?’
Artwork designed by Beth Morris