Sunday, April 15th, 1:00pm
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street
A popular sensation in medieval Europe, bestiaries were catalogs of beasts featuring exotic animal illustrations, zoological wisdom, and ancient legends. Denis Côté’s startling Bestiaire unfolds like a filmic picture book where both humans and animals are on display. As we observe them, they also observe us and one another, invoking the Hindu idea of darshan: a mutual beholding that initiates a shift in consciousness.
Fascinating, beguiling creatures like buffalo, hyenas, zookeepers, zebras, taxidermists, rhinos, and ostriches silently inhabit uncluttered, beautifully composed frames of a locked-off camera, conducting curious affairs in holding pens and fields. Their unself-consciousness before the camera’s eye renders them equally objectified. Whether we anthropomorphize, poeticize, abstract, or judge them is up to us. Côté invites his audience to reflect on control and power as lions rattle cages, a taxidermist recreates a duck, and artists copy a stuffed deer. Using the film form to challenge the very notion of representation, Bestiaire is an elegant, bewitching meditation on the nature of sentience and the boundaries between nature and “civilization.”
Followed by a discussion with Lori Gruen, Professor at Wesleyan University, and Alan Mikhail, Assistant Professor of History at Yale. Moderated by Ron Gregg, Senior Lecturer and Programming Director, Film Studies at Yale.
Born in New Brunswick, Canada, Denis Côté produced and directed around 15 low-budget short films while working as a radio-show host and film critic for a Montreal cultural weekly. He was also vice president of the Association Québécoise des critiques de cinéma (Québec's Film Critics Association) from 2001 to 2006. His first feature film, Les états Nordiques (Drifting States) (2005), was awarded the Golden Leopard for video at the Locarno International Film Festival, and Elle veut le chaos (All That She Wants) (2008) earned him the best director award at Locarno. Curling won another best director award at Locarno in 2010.
5 min. For thousands of years, humanity has watched the sun with a mixture of fear and awe, believing without knowing why, that our lives depend on its mysterious undulations.
Running Time: 72 Min.
Director: Denis Côté
Producer: Sylvain Corbeil
Cinematographer: Vincent Biron
Editor: Nicolas Roy
Sound: Frédéric Cloutier
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