The Library Lover: The Films of Raúl Ruiz

March 2, 2012 – April 15, 2012
Pacific Film Archive – Berkeley
All the Programm HERE

“Baroque imagery, bizarre humor and labyrinthine plots made his elusive and allusive oeuvre unlike anything else in contemporary cinema. Although most of his films were made while he was an exile in France, his work was part of the fabulist tradition that runs through much Latin American literature.”—Ronald Bergan, The Guardian

The Return of a Library Lover
is the title of an autobiographical short by Chilean director Raúl Ruiz and, looking over his remarkable filmography, it’s easy to see why: adaptations of Dante, Kafka, Proust, Calderón, Pierre Klossowski, Camilo Castelo Branco, the Iranian novelist Sadegh Hedayat, and Enrique Lafourcade (among many others) dot his career, while a list of citations could include Jorges Luis Borges, Lacan, Le petit prince, Qing Dynasty–era theories of portraiture, Lewis Carroll, and nineteenth-century Catholic thought—often in the same film. Intensely cerebral, his films are also highly entertaining, often hilarious, and always surprising. “The world of his movies — as experienced by the characters and the audience alike — is at once soothingly, elegantly familiar and booby-trapped with surprises,” wrote A. O. Scott in the New York Times Magazine. “There are sudden disappearances, long-buried secrets coming to light, supernatural happenings and bizarre coincidences. In his universe, improbability is the rule.”

Born in Chile in 1941, Ruiz studied law and theology before attending film school in Argentina. Returning to Chile, he completed a handful of works—including the seminal The Penal Colony—before the 1973 military coup forced him into exile in France, where he began a nearly forty-year career spanning several continents, countries, funding sources, and formats. A stint as codirector of the Maison de la Culture of Le Havre gave him the artistic latitude required for his dizzying narrative experiments, philosophical provocations, and surrealist touches, as did the relative largesse of European television funding in the 1980s. The success of later works like City of Pirates (1983) led to bigger budgets and bigger stars (and a brief shedding of his “Ulmer of the European Art Film” tag); by the mid-1990s Ruiz was able to work with such international stars as John Malkovich (Time Regained), Catherine Deneuve (Geneologies of a Crime), and Marcello Mastroianni (Three Lives and Only One Death).

Ruiz passed away in August of 2011, having completed one last film in his native Chile after the international success of his Mysteries of Lisbon, regarded by many as the encapsulation of his career. Whether well funded or barely funded, made for film or television, in France, Portugal, Chile, or the U.S., his films embraced a “logic governed by miracles,” as he wrote, a “poetics of cinema” (to borrow the title of his book on theory) that remains unmatched in its freedom.[dailymotion:


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