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The Unofficial Histories of Peter Forgacs, Part 2 of 3 - FREE 1st Thursday

Thursday, November 03, 2005
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft Way
Between College and Telegraph
Berkeley, CA 94720

History is typically brought to us in its official form—the sponsored version, validated by power and assembled by authorized agents. But the visual evidence of history has its unsanctioned and overlooked sources, troves of images from elsewhere. The exacting Hungarian artist Peter Forgacs has plundered one such trove, that of home movies shot primarily in the thirties and forties by Hungarian Jews. “The films became more than evidence, more than fact,” Forgacs has said. “They became a complex cultural and archaeological site for me.” Forgacs shapes the footage into elegiac “family sagas” that have the specificity of particular people yet bear, through poetic resonance, an unofficial history of a time-bound culture. Forgacs’s minimalism is a vital attribute: subtle cues, a word placed in the frame identifying a notable person or poignant moment, ride gently upon restrained waves of image manipulation. Composer Tibor Szemzˆ’s haunting soundscapes further accentuate both visual detail and emotional strains. Private Hungary, a series initiated in the late eighties, now includes a dozen works; in the mid-nineties, Forgacs began resurrecting home movies from other countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, and Greece, adding breadth to his “private” world. These three programs offer an official look at an unauthorized history that demands our recognition.
-Steve Seid
2nd Program: Thursday November 3
First Impressions/Peter Forgacs

5:30 The Maelstrom
Peter Forgacs (The Netherlands, 1997)

Free First Thursday Screening!
Tickets available at the PFA Theater starting at 4:30

The Maelstrom traces the Peereboom family, Flora, Jozeph, and their three sons, from the early thirties to the early forties when Holland is occupied by Nazi forces. Living just outside Amsterdam, the Peerebooms lead a comfortable life, almost an idyll, as businesses prosper and the children grow and marry—and all the while, just outside the frame, National Socialism is advancing. The Maelstrom charts the private complacency of a family seeking normalcy in the worst of times.—Steve Seid (60 mins, B&W/Tinted, Beta SP, PFA Collection, permission of the artist)

[This series is presented in conjunction with the Judah L. Magnes Museum exhibition The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River, coproduced by Peter Forgacs and the Labyrinth Project, on view through January 22, 2006. For information, visit]
Added to the calendar on Mon, Oct 17, 2005 5:33PM
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