A young boy joyfully rides a pushcart down the hilly streets of Haifa, a humped camel crosses a street, and an innocent girl paints an unseen picture in what may best represent the emergence of a new country and its unknown future. These are the arresting images captured by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Chris Marker (La Jetée, Sans Soleil) in his 1961 travels to Israel. Winner of the Golden Bear at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival, Marker’s remarkable documentary thoroughly examined, critiqued and predicted the newly created state’s past, present and future. Striking in the beauty of its images, ranging from the vastness of the desert landscape and the tranquility of the sea to the hubris of Tel Aviv, Description of a Struggle allows a rare and memorable glance at an Israel in the making.
From 2008 Festival: Director, France
He was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, 1921. In World War II he joined the Maquis (FTP). After the war he began to write and make films. He traveled to many socialist countries and documented what he saw in films and books. Les statues meurent aussi (1953) which he codirected with Alain Resnais was one of the first anticolonial films. Anatole Dauman produced the first films of Chris Marker and later produced two more of his films Sunday in Peking and Letter from Siberia.
He became internationally known for the short film La Jetée (1962). It tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel by using a series of filmed photographs developed as a photomontage of varying pace with limited narration and sound effects. This film was the inspiration for Mamoru Oshii's debut live action feature The Red Spectacles (1987) (later for Avalon) and also inspired Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys (1995). It also inspired many of director Mira Nair's shots of the recent film, The Namesake.
In 1982 Marker finished Sans Soleil, stretching the limits of what could be called a documentary. It is an essay, a montage, mixing pieces of documentary with fiction and philosophical comments, creating an atmosphere of dream and science fiction. The main themes are Japan, Africa, (the erasing of) memory and travel. A sequence in the middle of the film takes place in San Francisco, and heavily references Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Beginning with Sans Soleil he developed a deep interest in digital technology, which led to his film Level 5 (1996) and IMMEMORY (1998), an interactive multimedia CD-ROM, produced for the Centre Pompidou. Marker created a 19 minute multimedia piece in 2005 for The Museum of Modern Art in New York titled "Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men" which was influenced by T. S. Eliot's poem.
Chris Marker lives in Paris and does not grant interviews. When asked for a picture of himself, he usually offers a photograph of a cat instead. His cat is named Guillaume-en-egypte.