I’ve been working in film exhibition in one way, shape, or form for the last ten years. It’s an often fascinating industry as it merges art and commerce in a variety of ways, and there are very few other worlds that I can imagine working in and feeling satisfied, challenged, and inspired. That being said, it isn’t always easy. It can be incredibly stressful, involve long hours, and sometimes eat up those days off.
Then, there are those moments, not always so rare at the Walker, that I’m reminded of why I chose this path and all that comes along with it. One of these moments came last night when I finally took the opportunity to sit and watch Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait in its entirety. On a personal level, this is everything that the cinema is supposed to be. Experiencing this film projected from a nice 35mm print on a huge screen surrounded by some of the most innovative and engaging sound design I have ever witnessed, was a great reminder of why I took an interest in film to begin with and why I’ve always worked so hard to keep the cinema experience alive.
The film is incredible. It is indeed a portrait of one player, in one game, on one day, and the film takes you incredibly close to Zidane, but keeps you an arm’s length away, left wondering about the meanings behind the simplest actions – Zidane dragging his toes while he walks or removing the wristband as he leaves the field. The details are absolutely stunning, but the directors constantly pull you away to see the bigger picture – literally through the visuals, but also aurally by manipulating the scale of the sound you’re hearing, from the roar of the crowd to the isolated sound of the footfalls on the field. It utilized audio in ways I have never experienced before. Being there in a room full of soccer and film fans and witnessing the larger-than-life scale was the only way for me to get the full scope of what Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno were trying to do.
At this point, I’m still reeling from the entire weekend. I am grateful that our curators, Sheryl Mousley and Dean Otto, decided to take the risk of screening such a unique film, and it’s incredibly gratifying to be a part of presenting the kinds of work that can’t often be seen otherwise. I hope that you were amongst the nearly 2000 people that came to the Walker to see the film (Thank you so much if you were!) or that you get the chance to see this elsewhere under similar circumstances.
If you have seen the film, I’d love to read your thoughts. Please post your responses here.