Directors Masterclass with Béla Tarr

Screen Training Ireland are delighted to partner with Silk Road Film Festival to present a masterclass with celebrated auteur Béla Tarr.  The masterclass is aimed at directors, film students, film educators, actors, producers, cinematographers, writers.

This Masterclass is an interactive session and the aim is to explore the works of Béla Tarr from his early career to date. The process and challenges of Béla Tarr’s work will be discussed during the masterclass. Film clips/images will be used as part of the presentation. 

Béla Tarr is widely considered as one of the most important film directors of the past thirty years. While aspects of his cinema make it difficult for him to attract a mainstream audience, it is really among directors, film critics, academics, aspiring students and viewers of cinema as an art form that Tarr’s work finds its real appreciation. His influence over the past thirty years cannot be overstated. His contribution as one of the last European “auteurs” continues to be a source of inspiration to young film-makers around the world. However, the importance of Béla Tarr’s films in the 1990s are not only limited to their stylistic and aesthetic values. According to his biographer Novacs “they offer the most powerful and complex vision of the historical situation in the Eastern European region in that decade.”

Béla Tarr, Dean of the Film Factory at the Sarajevo Film Academy which provides a doctoral program that Tarr founded in Sarajevo and is composed of theoretical lectures and directing workshops. It provides funding to many young film-makers to undertake a Ph.D in cinema. In the past Tarr has been also a frequent visiting professor of the Berlin film school where he would spend a couple of months each year. In addition, he has held many temporary positions at film academies around the world such as the Dean of the Asian Film Academy in 2014.

However, Tarr’s most significant contribution to academia is the importance of his art itself and the research that it has stimulated.  A quick search of his name on TCD’s library page produces 1907 results of which 85 are books and 385 journal articles. His art is not only confined to film analysis, but transcends other disciplines such as politics, philosophy and literature. Articles explore his work through analyses of Nietzsche’s philosophy, as well as TCD’s own Samuel Beckett.

His work has received many awards. Most notable is a nomination for the Palme d’Or in 2007 for “A Man from London” as well as winning the Foreign Cineaste of the Year in 2005. He has won several awards at the Berlin Film festival for his films Sátántangó (1994) Werckmeister Harmonies (2001) and The Turin Horse (2011). He has also been awarded numerous awards for significant contribution to film around the world as well as receiving in 2004 the highest national award an artist can get in Hungary.

But it is arguably his influence on some of the most prominent movie-makers that show one of Tarr’s most outstanding contributions. Gus Van Sant, who doesn’t hide the influence of Tarr on his own in work, in particular his Palme d’Or success “Elephant”, writes in a piece for a MoMA Retrospection of Tarr’s work:

Béla’s works … find themselves contemplating life in a way that is almost impossible watching an ordinary modern film. They get so much closer to the real rhythms of life that it is like seeing the birth of a new cinema. He is one of the few genuinely visionary filmmakers.

Martin Scorsese names Tarr as “one of cinema’s most adventurous artists, and his films, like ‘Satantango’ and ‘The Turin Horse,’ are truly experiences that you absorb, and that keep developing in the mind”.

These comments point to the essence of Tarr’s cinema and the guiding thread that unifies all of his work: the preservation of human dignity. For Tarr filmmaking has always been a question of inner moral conviction and to fight for and preserve the dignity of those who are the least fortunate in society. In order then for his audience to truly contemplate human dignity, it is Tarr’s belief that cinema must reflect these hardships. If at times his scenes seem long, arduous and testing it is because it is so for his characters in that moment. Instead of using cinema as a way of escaping our human condition Tarr holds it up as a mirror, not to prescribe action with respect to political and social change but more importantly to pose the problem at the ontological and metaphysical level. In what may appear at times as a bleak pessimism, in which flawed individuals are pitted against the heaviness of their existence, Tarr creates a space in which human dignity takes centre stage. In contemplating the humanity and dignity of individuals, Tarr’s work follows a long tradition of the human spirit that calls for compassion in face of human suffering.

Tickets for the masterclass are available directly from the Silk Road Film Festival by clicking here

Venue: Thomas Davis Theatre, Trinity College Dublin

Time: 6pm – 8.30pm

Date: Friday 10th March 2017

Cost: €40, students €20