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a film essay by Allan Sekula & Noel Burch

Winner of the "Special Orizzonti Jury Prize" at the
67th Venice International Film Festival.

Jury rapport:
"An epic view and urgent analysis of the follies of global capitalism, 'The Forgotten Space' is a prime example of essayistic and political cinema. It creates a complex tapestry of powerful images and language"

The sea is forgotten until disaster strikes. But perhaps the biggest seagoing disas- ter is the global supply chain, which - perhaps in a more fundamental way than financial speculation - leads the world economy to the abyss.

The film follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, plan- ners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villag- ers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bil- bao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete.

A range of materials is used: descriptive documentary, in- terviews, archive stills and footage, clips from old movies. The result is an essayistic, visual documentary about one of the most important processes that affects us today.

The Forgotten Space is based on Sekula’s massive long-term project Fish Story, seeking to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex symbolic legacy of the sea.

Allan Sekula
Since the early 1970s Allan Sekula’s works with photographic sequences, written texts, slide shows and sound recordings have traveled a path close to cinema, some- times referring to specific films, sometimes operating like a “disassembled movie”. In 2001 Sekula made the first work he was willing to call a film.

Sekula’s books include Photography against the Grain (1984), Fish Story (1995), Dis- mal Science (1999), Performance under Working Conditions (2003), TITANIC’s wake (2003), and Polonia and Other Fables (2009). These works range from the theory and history of photography to family life in the grip of the military industrial complex to explorations of the world maritime economy. His work is on display all over the world. Among other places, Sekula has taught in the Department of Photography and Cinema at the Ohio State University, and since 1985, in the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts.

Noel Burch
Born in the USA (San Francisco, 22nd of January 1932), Noël Burch has been liv- ing in France since 1951. He graduated from the Institut des Hautes Etudes Ciné- matographiques in 1954. While primarily known for his theoretical writings, such as Theory of Film Practice (1973), and To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema (1979), he has always positioned himself as a film-maker and has directed over twenty titles, mostly documentaries.

Burch was co-founder and director of the Institut de Formation Cinématographique. From 1972 to 2000 he has taught film history and theory at various places and univer- sities throughout the world.

an Doc.Eye Film and WILDart FILM production.

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Noel Burch, Allan Sekula

Netherlands/Austria 2010
112 min

script and direction Allan Sekula
Noel Burch
camera Attila Boa
Wolfgang Thaler
sound Eckehard Braun
Joe Knauer
sounddesign Mark Glynne
music Ricardo Tesi
Louis Andriessen

production WILDart FILM
 Doc.Eye Film

supported by
SKOR, CoBO Fund, VPRO, ORF, Österreichisches Filminstitut, Eurimages, MEDIA Programme