Messe Basel
Switzerland
15 – 18 June 2017

Art Basel will screen a premier program of 34 film and video works presented by the show’s participating galleries. The Film program is curated for the third consecutive year by Cairo-based film curator Maxa Zoller, and will include a special screening of Stanley Tucci’s ‘Final Portrait’ (2017), selected by New York-based film curator Marian Masone. Program highlights include works by John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Eric Baudelaire, He Xiangyu, Ana Mendieta, Ugo Rondinone and Andy Warhol among others. Filipa César’s new work ‘Spell Reel’ will be shown as part of Art Basel’s collaboration with the Locarno Festival, now in its third year. Art Basel, whose Lead Partner is UBS, will take place at Messe Basel from June 15 to June 18, 2017.

Heavily influenced by today’s political events, Maxa Zoller’s program gives a glimpse into various international themes, presenting a varied selection of experimental films by a broad range of artists and filmmakers. ‘The poetic beauty of these films that examine topical issues such as terrorism, racism and failed revolutions are at once utterly uplifting and deeply thought-provoking,’ said Maxa Zoller. ‘It was a pleasure to curate this program and to encounter such strong, intelligent films, which shed a brighter light on an ever more conflicted society.’

The Film program will open on Monday, June 12 with ‘Also Known As Jihadi’ (2017), the latest feature-length film by French-American artist Eric Baudelaire (b. 1973), tracing the journey of young Abdel Aziz from his hometown in France to Syria. As the audience is captured by tranquil suburban and rural scenes along the route, the idyllic landscapes are gradually interrupted with excerpts from court documents and police reports, making it apparent that Aziz has joined Islamic State and helped to radicalize other young people. The film never shows its protagonist’s face however, viewer sees what Aziz sees – creating a particular closeness to him. The screening will be followed by a Q&A between Eric Baudelaire and Maxa Zoller.

On Tuesday, June 13, the program will feature the European premiere of He Xiangyu’s (b. 1986) new film ‘The Swim’ (2017), which follows the artist on his return to his native city Kuandian on the border between China and North Korea. Offering complex and intriguing insights into this changed environment, he interviews veterans of the Korean War as well as defectors from North Korea, presenting a conflicting account of his hometown despite the picturesque landscapes portrayed.

As part of its collaboration with Art Basel, the Locarno Festival will present Filipa César’s (b. 1975) ‘Spell Reel’ (2017) on Thursday, June 15. ‘Spell Reel’ is the result of a multilayered research and digitalization project that César initiated in 2011 with film directors Sana Na N’Hada and Flora Gomes. César’s film brings together restored vintage film from N’Hada and Gomes’ documentations of the liberation struggles in Guinea Bissau, incorporating new footage and commentary from their return to these remote locations. The screening will be followed by a Q&A between Filipa César and Sergio Fant, programmer of the Locarno Festival.

Selected by Marian Masone in anticipation of its international release, a special screening of Stanley Tucci’s (b. 1960) ‘Final Portrait’ (2017) will take place on Saturday, June 17. Featuring Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, ‘Final Portrait’ peers into the workshop and personality of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), two years prior to his death. In his fifth film as a director, actor Stanley Tucci shows how the artist’s strengths and weaknesses relate to the chaos of his artistic output, doubts and courageous ability to destroy and begin afresh.

The Short Film program will commence on Monday, June 12 with ‘Phantom Limbs’, presenting works by Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun (b. 1972) and French artist Kader Attia (b. 1970), exploring the theme of phantom pain, both metaphorically and as a medical phenomenon. This will be followed on Tuesday, June 13 by ‘Little Films to Smile to: Focus on Breda Beban’, offering a rare opportunity to see multiple works by the late Yugoslavianborn filmmaker Breda Beban (1952-2012), whose works often centred around interpersonal relationships and the experience of living in exile.

Further Short Film program highlights on Wednesday, June 14 include: ‘Earth Tales: The Politics of Soil’, featuring seven films by artists including Zineb Sedira (b. 1963), Filipa César (b. 1975) and Mohau Modisakeng (b. 1986), whose works concentrate on the conquest, exploitation and recapture of African territories. In a nod to Jean Cocteau’s surrealist 1930s film ‘The Blood of a Poet’, Maxa Zoller brings together works by William E. Jones (b. 1962) and Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964), which focus on the leitmotifs of death, homoeroticism and Andy Warhol.

In ‘Force Fields’, presented on Friday, June 16, two forms of energy are exposed and questioned – the philosophy of Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov, an instigator of the Russian Cosmist movement, and magnetism in the theory of consciousness of the Mexican scientist Jacobo Grinberg. Artists Anton Vidokle (b.1965) and François Bucher (b.1972), from Russia and Colombia respectively, propose alternative epistemologies in order to question our relationship to reality in the late phase of (Post) Modernism. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Anton Vidokle and Maxa Zoller. Also on Friday, ‘Black and Blue’ will present four short films voicing artists’ reactions to racially motivated violence and today’s debates surrounding racism. The program concludes with a documentation of Robin Rhode’s (b. 1976) contemporary take on Arnold Schönberg’s expressionist ‘Erwartung’ (Expectation), which he restaged in New York’s Time Square.

Screened at Stadtkino Basel, the Film program will run from Monday, June 12 to Saturday, June 17, 2017