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March 28th – April 2nd, 2017 / Cinema Muzeul Țăranului & Cinema Elvire Popesco / the 7th edition


Directed by: 
Cinema Muzeul Țăranului - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 18:00
Cinema Muzeul Țăranului - Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 16:30
Written by: 
Sarah Vanagt
Artur Castro Freire (assisted by Son Doan)
Effi Weiss
Philippe Ciompi
Sarah Vanagt
Romanian Premiere
Inspired from the 19th century photographic practice of Invisible Mothers, visual artist Sarah Vanagt investigates the very act of seeing. If photography was in the beginning perceived as witchcraft, stealing the soul of its subjects, Still Holding Still manages to capture that precise moment of magic when the image is born, when the soul transfer happens between the real and the photographed. Infant subjects gazed at with gentle observation and attentive hearing, a hushed lullaby which captures the ethereal weight of absent presence, muffled whispers and softened exhalations. Dilating the instant, Vanagt’s camera allows each child’s human essence to reveal itself with arresting tenderness. Beckett once said that the role of objects is to restore silence; Vanagt’s cinematic gaze restores transcendence to the real, and we, in turn, become participatory witnesses. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)

Sarah Vanagt

Sarah Vanagt (b. 1976) makes documentaries, video installations and photos, in which she combines her interest for history with her interest for (the origins of) cinema. Her work includes films such as After Years of Walking (2003), Little Figures (2003), Begin Began Begun (2005), Boulevard d’Ypres (2010), The Corridor (2010), Dust Breeding (2013); and video installations such as Les Mouchoirs de Kabila (2005), Power Cut (2007), Ash Tree (2007). Her work is shown at film festivals (FIDMarseille, Viennale, Doclisboa, IDFA Amsterdam, Rencontres Internationales Paris / Madrid / Berlin, Hors Pistes Centre Pompidou), and in museums (Frankfurter Kunstverein, Fact Liverpool, NGBK Berlin, Shedhalle Zürich). The silent short film Girl With a Fly (2013) was first shown at the 5th Biennale of Moscow. The film In Waking Hours (2015) premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Still Holding Still (2015) was shown at IDFA Amsterdam, after its Belgian première (Beursschouwburg, Brussels).

Festivals, awards: 
  • IDFA International Documentary Festival Amsterdam - Paradocs 2015
  • EMAF - European Media Art Festival 2016
  • Biennale de l’Image Possible
  • Festival International Jean Rouch
  • Imagine Science Film Festival
Curatorial comment:
Sarah Vanagt compiled this collection of truly odd photos of children and babies, taken recently using a 19th-century photographic practice known as Invisible Mothers. Photographer Jeroen de Wijs employs a technique from Victorian times, back when taking a photograph of your child was a complex enterprise – an exceptional event that could easily fail. Capturing an image required a 30-second shutter time, and it was almost impossible to get an entire family perfectly still for that long. So photographers came up with a little trick to get around that problem. They got the mother to sit cloaked from head to toe in a blanket so that she could keep her child quiet while not appearing in the picture herself. But the mothers aren’t entirely invisible. In fact they are rather spooky apparitions, looming behind their expressionless children. In her film, Vanagt uses the long exposure times to enter into De Wijs’s photos of children. (IDFA Paradocs 2015)