The first of the Zanzibar films, Détruisez-vous was also the debut work of Serge Bard, a student of ethnology at the University of Nanterre who had become disenchanted with the university system and abandoned his studies. Like Godard’s La Chinoise, which featured Anne Wiazemsky (herself a student at Nanterre at the time), the film is set in Nanterre where, just weeks before the student uprising in May 1968, Bard returned to shoot. Prefiguring the mounting militancy, Bard casts Alain Jouffroy as a professor and has him lecture in a nearly empty classroom on the necessity of revolution.
Lecture: "Zanzibar Films and the Dandies of May 1968"
Film scholar and writer Sally Shafto, a research associate at Princeton University, will discuss the little-known chapter in French film history that witnessed the emergence of an informal association of young filmmakers and the production of a unique cycle of experimental films. Originally at work on her doctoral thesis at the University of Iowa on the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Shafto became fascinated with the virtually unknown films produced under the banner of “Zanzibar” and has worked over the past two years on researching and assembling this retrospective series.
In 1969, the painter-sculptor Daniel Pommereulle made his third film, this one financed by Sylvina Boissonnas. Although only a short, Vite was one of the most costly of all the Zanzibar productions. It features, for instance, shots of the moon taken by a state-of-the-art telescope, the Questar, that Pommereulle first saw while visiting Marlon Brando in southern California in 1968. In Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse, Pommereulle and his friend Adrien philosophize on how best to achieve le vide (emptiness) during their summer holidays. Three years later, Pommereulle would transform the word “vide” to “vite” (quickly), signifying his profound disenchantment with the aftermath of the revolution of May ’68.