Seminar on Jacques Tati

Universal in appeal yet unmistakably French, the comedies of Jacques Tati are not only among the greatest ever made by a performer/director in the manner of Chaplin or Keaton, but have immeasurably enriched the very language of cinema itself. Tati bore witness to (or anticipated) the material transformation of postwar France in the midst of Europe’s economic miracle, transitioning from sleepy villages and old-fashioned neighborhoods to standardized, gadget-filled suburban housing and a high-tech Paris rebuilt almost beyond recognition – emblems of the new consumer society that brought with it the dreaded threat of Americanization. The remarkable art of Jacques Tati consists not only of his own comic turns as the iconic Mr. Hulot – a tall, charmingly awkward figure seen always with hat, raincoat, and pipe, ill-adapted to modern society with his oldfashioned ways – but with his uniquely cinematic form of humor. A master at staging in depth, Tati’s mise-enscène fully exploits his characteristic wide-shot compositions by positioning gags in every conceivable nook and cranny of the frame, from background to foreground, requiring an alert viewer’s active participation in visually registering the humor. Individual gags often function like motifs in a musical composition. Loosely episodic, the films’ narratives are hardly plot-driven, but allow for a leisurely observation of the comedy in the minutiae of daily life. Notably, Tati sought to “democratize” his narratives by focusing less on a central character, than to find humor in passers-by peripheral to the narrative. For all of Tati’s visual imagination, however, don’t forget the sound: there may be little dialogue, but the funny manipulation of everyday sounds (and fragments of speech) forms a musique concrète-like soundtrack sure to tickle the most curmudgeonly of viewers. In sum, Tati represents film comedy at its purest: as formal abstraction.

3/11 (SUN): Seminar with Derek Lam and Ernest Chan. Conducted in Cantonese. Free Admission.

Screening:

Note

1. Unless otherwise stated, all films (except English-speaking films) are subtitled in English.

2. For screenings at ALL commercial cinemas, tickets are available at URBTIX till 5:00pm one day before respective screenings. After that, tickets will be available only at the box office of the screening venue on the day of screening, subject to availability.

3. Screenings at HK Arts Centre, HK Film Archive and Tai Kwun: For screenings that are about to start in 1 hour, all remaining tickets can only be bought at the box offices of the respective screening venues.

4. For the sold-out screenings at HK Arts Centre and HK Film Archive, a limited number of standing tickets are available at the URBTIX Outlets of the respective venues 30 minutes prior to the screening time. Seating is not guaranteed and subject to availability 30 minutes after the screening time. Each person can purchase 1 standing ticket. The availability of standing tickets is subject to change without prior notice.

5. Screenings at HK Science Museum: There is no URBTIX Outlet at the venue. Tickets are available at URBTIX till 1 hour prior to the respective screenings. Door ticket counter opens 30 minutes before the screening. Limited tickets to non-sold out screenings will be available at the door, subject to availability (Cash Only).

6. While it is the HKIFFS’s policy to secure the best possible print of the original version for all its screenings, the HKIFFS will appreciate its patrons’ understanding on occasions when less than perfect screening copies are screened.