CINE Colloquium, Ivone Margulies

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

Ivone Margulies

The Real/Actor: Reenactment and Transmission in Contemporary Cinema

Claude Lanzmann’s statement that “no true knowledge exists prior to transmission,” firmly couples the addressee to a scene in which speech acts. The performative efficacy of an in-person address has depended on the return, through cinema’s agency, of people to places in which they underwent traumatic events. This qualified “return,” brings into scene the real/actor, evidence that is most disturbing, and my object here. This paper complicates Lanzmann’s testimonial credo in Shoah looking at two examples of self-reenactment—atrocities dispassionately replayed by Khmer rouge guards in Rithy Panh’s S21 the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003) and the return of Carapiru, an awa-guaja Indian to reenact his first contact with whites 20 and 30s years earlier when his tribe was massacred in Andrea Tonacci’s Sierras of Chaos (2007). I argue that by staging unconscious and problematic agencies relayed in faulty memories, inarticulate voices and unclear ethical stances these films deploy the real/actor to invalidate a necessary link between re-enactment, self-knowledge and exemplarity. Through a close reading of Sierras of Chaos I discuss how Carapiru, a presence pervaded with temporal ambiguity and categorical instability, is used as a catalyst to implicate more broadly cinema and the media in the National exclusion of indigenous groups in Brazil.

Cinema Studies Program
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