Art of the Real 2019: Darkness, Compulsive Cinephilia and Godard

Filmmaker Magazine | 4/18/2019 | Vadim Rizov
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by Vadim Rizov

2016: not a good year for most people, and certainly not for Frank Beauvais. His Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream is the opening night film at this year’s sixth annual Art of the Real series, Lincoln Center’s perspective on the year in nonfiction. Handily for me, Beauvais (a music supervisor and documentarian making his feature debut) has written his own IMDb synopsis, upon which I cannot improve:

January - Love - Story - Village - Alsace

January 2016. The love story that brought me to this village in Alsace where I live ended six months ago. At 45, I am now alone, without a car, a job or any real prospects, surrounded by luxuriant nature, the proximity of which is not enough to calm the deep distress into which I am plunged. France, still in shock from the November terror attacks, is in a state of emergency. I feel helpless, I suffocate with contained rage. I am lost and I watch four to five films a day. I decide to record this stagnation, not by picking up a camera but by editing shots from the stream of films I watch.

That would be 400+ films (their titles are alphabetically listed in the end credits) which Beauvais watched from April to October, while trying to assemble enough capital to leave the village where he’d lived with his ex and return to Paris, where friends and something like a normal life awaited. Beauvais tells the story of this miserable, self-locking purgatorial period in a brisk, uninflected monologue devoid of bad one-man-show vocal histrionics. There’s no room tone or music, just Beauvais’s unsparing chronicle of a dismal spring, summer and fall, illustrated by a truly overwhelming number of images (the editor is Thomas Marchand). Beauvais’s approach defamiliarizes footage from many dissimilar sources— industrial/government films from the ’40s and ’50s cheek by...
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