Join writer-director Joan Tewkesbury, editor-producer Paul Barnes and curator-scholar Mara Fortes as they take on the enigmatic Robert Bresson, one of the most rigorously disciplined filmmakers of all time, and a man who turned constraints (a fixed camera and lens, non-professional actors, no soundtracks) into deeply spiritual experiences with an insightful discussion on A Man Escaped.
This unforgettable film remains perhaps the most suspenseful jailbreak film of all time. Based on the account of an imprisoned French Resistance leader, this unbelievably taut and methodical marvel follows the fictional Fontaine’s single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and execution of his escape with gripping precision. But Bresson’s film is not merely about process—it’s also a work of intense humanity. Joan, Paul and Mara will discuss the film’s history, cultural contexts, aesthetics and mechanics in ways that will teach us both about the intricacies of cinema and about the nature of life itself.
“Bresson’s plots are not about whether they succeed, but how they endure. He tells these stories in an unadorned style, without movie stars, special effects, contrived thrills and elevated tension. His films, seemingly devoid of audience-pleasing elements, hold many people in a hypnotic grip. There are no “entertainment values” to distract us, only the actual events of the stories themselves … Few films have seemed more absorbing to me.” –Roger Ebert
Joan Tewkesbury began her career at age ten as a dancer, played an Ostrich and Mary Martin’s flying understudy in Jerome Robins’ Peter Pan, choreographed and danced in nightclubs in San Francisco and Reno, Nevada, and directed and choreographed for theatre in the U.S., Scotland and London. She has amassed credits as a writer, director, producer, and choreographer in feature film, theatre and television, including screenplays for Robert Altman’s THIEVES LIKE US and NASHVILLE. Her directorial first feature OLD BOYFRIENDS was presented at the Cannes Film Festival, and celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a retrospective in major cities. Her many TV credits include writing and directing the award-winning Acorn People, The Tenth Month, Sudie and Simpson and Cold Sassy Tree. She has directed off-Broadway, co-choreographed and directed for the Oregon Ballet Theatre and her play The Retrospective was presented at the Manhattan Theatre Source. Her first novel, Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time of Conflict and War, was published in 2011. She is an advisor for the Sundance Institute.
Paul Barnes works as editor include WASN’T THAT A TIME (1982, Best Documentary Editing Award from the American Cinema Editors), SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY (winner, Best Documentary, Boston Film Critics) and THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988 Best Documentary Award, New York Film Critics). Paul was editor of Ken Burns’s Oscar-nominated STATUE OF LIBERTY, beginning a 25-year collaboration that resulted in THE CIVIL WAR (1990, highest rated series in public TV history and winner of 40 awards); BASEBALL; EMPIRE OF THE AIR: THE MEN WHO MADE RADIO; THOMAS JEFFERSON; the ten-part JAZZ series; THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY and THE VIETNAM WAR.
Born in Mexico City, Mara Fortes is a researcher and a curator. She holds a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Swarthmore College and is currently a doctoral candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago (Dissertation: Cinema Atmospherics and the Spatial Uncanny). She works as a curator for the Telluride Film Festival, programs for the Ambulante Documentary Film Festival (Mexico), and is former head curator at the audiovisual department “Cine más allá” of the Center for Digital Culture (Mexico). She has curated programs for Museo Reina Sofia (Spain) La Otra Bienal (Colombia), and London MexFest (UK).