A 2K DCP restoration of Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin's influential documentary Chronicle Of A Summer (1961) will commence Saturday's "Chazelle Selects" portion of Oscar-winning writer-director Damien Chazelle's visit to Madison. In partnering with UW Cinematheque's vast well of resources and international studio connections, Chazelle has curated a day-long series of repertory favorites, from early sound shorts of the late 1920s to John Ford's most enduring, graceful Western, My Darling Clementine (1946), on 35mm, to Su Friedrich's deeply moving memoir Sink Or Swim (1990) on 16mm.
Chronicle Of A Summer precisely marks the origin point of "cinéma vérité," a method that harnesses conversational improvisation to unveil truth typically masked in the process of acting or cinematic documentation. Before career anthropologist Rouch and his collaborator, sociologist/critic Mourin, take their contentions out onto the public Parisian streets during the summer of 1960, the two privately debate whether or not it's feasible to convey such a reality or capture sincere human behavior in on-camera interviews. Rouch, Mourin, and crew then uniquely attempt to gain insight into the current state of the working class with inquiries that blossom from the simple catalyst, "Are you happy?"
Cinephiles who may be familiar with the radical narrative innovations of the French New Wave and the essayist works of Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard will likely find Chronicle Of A Summer to be an inspiring experiment ripe for philosophical discussion. Appropriately, Chazelle himself will be on-hand to participate in a post-screening talk led by UW-Madison film professor Kelley Conway. (Please note that Chazelle will only be present after this screening, and not for the remainder of the day's programming.) —Grant Phipps