Joris Ivens: Filmmaker of the World

Joris Ivens was a Dutch documentary and experimental filmmaker who created his works over the course of the 20th century, thus following the development in the field of cinema; from his beginnings in the early 20th century at the end of the silent era, when he was influenced by the all-European boom of the avant-garde, to his inclination to political and leftist topics in the 1930s, to his deportation from the Netherlands for his criticism of Dutch colonialism. Ivens’ work laid the foundations for engaged film as well as the docu-fiction genre which captures real events through fiction film. DAFilms.com presents four films by Joris Ivens from the revolutionary 1960s. Watch the works by one of the leading European documentary filmmakers!

“The film screen is not a window through which you look at the world, it is a world in itself.”

Joris Ivens was born in the Netherlands in 1898 into the family of a photographer and owner of several photo supply shops. He studied economics, photochemistry and camera technology; upon his return to his hometown, he decided to become a filmmaker rather than continuing the family business. Throughout his career, he made the total of 64 films. Some of his earliest short films, The Bridge and Rain, were significantly influenced by avant-garde filmmakers such as René Clair and Sergei Eisenstein. In the 1930s, his works started showing the influence of leftist thinking and became politically engaged, the most renowned one being Misery in the Borinage made in collaboration with Belgian director Henri Storck.

DAFilms.com presents four films by Joris Ivens from the 1960s: 17th Parallel, A Valparaíso, Rotterdam Europort and Le petit chapiteau. A Valparaíso (1963) was made in collaboration with students of the University of Santiago de Chile and based on a screenplay by Chris Marker. Valparaíso is a big port in Latin America which played an essential role in sea transport before the completion of the Panama Canal. The documentary shows realistic and poetic images of the city with vast differences between poverty and wealth apparent at first glance. The short Le petit chapiteau (1963) was made during the director’s stay in Chile, capturing the genuine and unflagging enthusiasm of children at a circus show. Rotterdam Europort (1966) is a portrait of a port city in the Netherlands which was rapidly revitalized after the bombing during the Second World War; Ivens employs a hybrid form and includes fiction passages in the film. 17th Parallel was made during the director’s journey to Vietnam. The film shows the war victims in Southeast Asia, most of whom are ordinary farmers, and becomes a manifesto against war as such.

Watch the selection of the works by Joris Ivens online at DAFilms!

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