ORG (Dir. Fernando Birri, 1979)
Date: January 16, 2018
Location: Downtown Independent
Address: 251 S. Main St, Los Angeles, CA. 90012
New digital restoration! Los Angeles premiere!
Co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum.
Introduction by director Ciro Capellari, friend and one-time student of Fernando Birri.
Fernando Birri, an Argentinian filmmaker often considered the father of Third Cinema, or the new Latin American Cinema, passed away at 92 on December 28, 2017––the end of an epoch for Latin American cinema. ORG is the work in which he took the next step, trying to synthesize militant cinema and formal experimentation. Acropolis Cinema and Los Angeles Filmforum were already planning to screen the film as part of "Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America," but now the screening takes on greater significance as a tribute to this most significant filmmaker and theorist.
ORG is a colossal, nearly three-hour long film that’s only rarely been screened since it premiered at the 1979 Venice Film Festival. Beginning with his debut film Tire Dié, Birri, who was also a poet, painter, teacher and film school founder, became a key figure in Latin American cinema. For Birri, ORG was the result of his experience of exile in Italy: “The film is a nightmare with closed eyes because it counts among the most terrible moments of my life, my second exile, which lasted a very long time.” The story of ORG is based on the same ancient Indian legend that Thomas Mann also drew on for his story “The Transposed Heads.” But above all, ORG is an experiment in perception that features over 26,000 cuts and some 700 audio tracks. The film was partly funded by leading actor Mario Girotti, better known as Terence Hill. Viewing ORG today provides a kaleidoscopic insight into the experimental, aesthetic and political trends of the 1970s.
About the restoration: The original cut of ORG remained almost invisible and inaccessible since its premiere in the 1979 Venice Film Festival. Only a 104-minute abridged version was accesible to the public until Arsenal's "Living Archive" project and the group "Entuziazm" worked to bring back this astonishing digital restoration of the original 177 minute version.
A feast of and for all the senses... Rather than a simple mirror of its times, ORG is a prism of unexplored possibilities, of anti-narrative cues to be followed until the dissolution of meaning.
Celluloid Liberation Front, MUBI Noteboook
Inspired by Thomas Mann’s The Changed Heads, ORG is less a movie than a torrent of thin sliced cuts
and layered soundtrack dissonance; for sheer audience antagonism, it’s a work on a par with
approximately contemporary works like Metal Machine Music or the films of Carmelo Bene. Legend has
it that after the film’s premiere at the 1979 Venice Film Festival, [Terence] Hill’s agent urged him to
disavow it and return to more profitable endeavors like the safari comedy I’m for the Hippopotamus
(1979), opposite [Bud] Spencer. When that retrospective comes, I’ll be first in line.
Nick Pinkerton, Film Comment