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LATEST NEWS

DERRIDA will be playing in Paris at MK2 BEAUBOURG starting October 26th!

RECENT IMPORTANT DATES

USA DERRIDA BOOK - March 1st

GERMANY DVD RELEASE - March 14th

DUTTON'S BOOK PARTY - April 17th

UK DVD RELEASE - April 18th

UK DERRIDA BOOK - April 28th/MAY 19th

NEW CRITICAL COMMENTARY ON DERRIDA

The Abocular Hypothesis, Or 'Drawing the Blind'

Talk on DERRIDA

[ 06.30.04 ]

KOSMOPOLIS 04 - International Festival of Literature     [ SPAIN ]
DERRIDA will be screened in Barcelona Sept 14 - 19 2004.

REVIEW BY FESTIVAL
An odd portrait of Jacques Derrida, one of the most polemical and influential theorists of the end of the 20th century. The filmmakers 'deconstruct' the French thinker's private and professional life, in an attempt to capture the processes of an inquisitive and iconoclastic mind which has greatly influenced our way of understanding the limits of language.
 
DERRIDA DVD FINALLY AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE IN THE US AND CANADA!

(PLEASE NOTE: AT THIS TIME THE DVD IS AVAILABLE ONLY IN NTSC FORMAT.
A PAL MULTI-LANGUAGE VERSION WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE SOME TIME LATER IN 2004)

SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE NEW DVD INCLUDE:
• 45 minutes of additional interviews with Jacques Derrida
• Q + A with Jacques Derrida and the film's directors at the film's US premiere at Film Forum in NYC
• Deleted Scenes w/ Commentary
• Director's Commentary

TO PURCHASE THE DVD, PLEASE INQUIRE AT YOUR LOCAL VIDEO STORE, OR CALL ZEITGEIST FILMS AT: 1-800-509-0448 OR GO TO: AMAZON.COM, BARNESANDNOBLES.COM, TOWERRECORDS.COM

TO PURCHASE THE VHS GO TO: AMAZON.COM

DERRIDA NOW PLAYING IN THE UK!
DERRIDA now playing in London and other UK cities.
Please click HERE for the latest screening info.

INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS
THE MALL LONDON SW1Y 5AH [ TUBES - PICCADILLY/CHARING CROSS ]
BOXOFFICE | PH 020 7930 3647 | EMAIL tickets@ica.org.uk | WEBSITE
[ 01.31.04 ]

DERRIDA

 



DERRIDA AT UNIVERSITIES AROUND THE US
Universities can book screenings of DERRIDA as special events, or as part of their on campus film series. DERRIDA has already screened at Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Amherst, and Brown. If you are interested in arranging a screening of the film at your University, please contact Emily Woodburne at Zeitgeist Films 212.274.1989 or email Emily at woodburne@zeitgeistfilms.com.
[ 12.02.03 ]

DERRIDA HAS SIGNED A DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH ART FILM DISTRIBUTOR, ZEITGEIST FILMS
Other indie films carried by Zeitgeist include works by Peter Greenaway, Jacques Demy, Atom Egoyan, The Brothers Quay, Agnés Varda, Bruce Weber.
[ 06.1.02 ]


Click HERE for detailed info on festivals DERRIDA has screened at, as well as upcoming festival screenings.


What if you could watch Socrates, on film, rehearsing his Socratic dialogues? What if there was footage of Descartes, Thoreau, or Shakespeare as themselves at work and in their daily life? Might we now look at these figures differently, with perhaps a deeper understanding of their work and lives?

Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman asked themselves these questions, and decided to team up and document one of the most visionary and influential thinkers of the 20th century, a man who single-handedly altered the way many of us look at history, language, art, and, ultimately, ourselves: the brilliant and iconoclastic French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

For over five years, Dick ("Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist") and Ziering Kofman (Producer, "Taylor's Campaign") played Plato to our own modern day Socrates. The filmmaking team shadowed the renowned philosopher, best known for "deconstruction," and captured intimate footage of the man as he lives and works in his daily life. They filmed Derrida on his first trip to South Africa, where -- after visiting President Mandela's former prison cell -- he delivers a lecture on forgiveness to students at the University of the Western Cape. The filmmakers travel with him from his home in Paris to New York City, where he discusses the role of biographers, and the challenges that are faced when one attempts to bridge the abyssal gulf between a historic figure's work and life. They capture Derrida in private moments, musing reluctantly, about fidelity and marriage, narcissism and celebrity, and the importance of thinking philosophically about love.

Yet DERRIDA is in no way a talking heads movie or conventional biographical portrait. Its bold, visual style, mesmerizing score by Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, and novel editorial approach create a rich, lively cinematic experience, at once provokes, amuses and entertains. In resisting any predictable, formulaic approach, they make Derrida a living, informal demonstration of "deconstruction" -- a system of thought which up to now has otherwise eluded cinematic capture. The result is not only thought provoking, but ground-breaking.


The New York Times
A Pleasure to Watch...blissful! Derrida shows himself to be self-deprecating, quick-witted and self-aware.
- Elvis Mitchell

The Los Angeles Times
The great pleasure of DERRIDA, an absolutely first-rate documentary about his life and thought that is the cinematic equivalent of a mind-expanding drug, is how invigorating and refreshing it is to be in the presence of such a powerful, agile intellect. - Kenneth Turan

New York Magazine
Bewitching Bilge Ebiri

Wall St Journal
Playful but penetrating portrait of a deep thinker...challenging and fascinating. Joe Morgenstern

LA Weekly
The film takes you in Derrida's life...the result is fascinating. Holly Willis

Film Comment
The film cunningly incorporates the through-the-looking-glass elements of Derrida's thought, turning the seams of the filmmaking process inside out...inspirational and unexpectedly moving. - Rachel Rosen

Rolling Stone
Sundance's choices of award winners seems tame compared with DERRIDA, a potent and profound investigation into the philosophy of French Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. - Peter Travers

Le Monde
The work of biography, which the subject of the film himself goes to great lengths to deconstruct, is one of the themes of DERRIDA, one of the most captivating and witty documentaries at Sundance this year. - Claudine Mulard

Variety
Clever, playful, and provocative. - Dennis Harvey

Village Voice
One of the most skillful docs at Sundance doubled as philosophical experiment in portraiture. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman's DERRIDA avoids a Deconstruction primer, instead positioning itself as a demonstration of the French thinker's theories. - Dennis Lim

The Hollywood Reporter
Wry, funny, refreshingly different. Seldom has a movie so closely matched the spirit of a man and his work.
Kirk Honeycutt

Premiere
One of the Sundance festival's most engaging and provocative documentaries. - Glenn Kenny

Film Threat
Even if you have no idea what Derrida's theories are about, allow your mind to be teased and twisted by this unique new documentary. Dick and Ziering Kofman have created a priceless historical record of one of the 20 - and 21st - century's great minds at work. They also happen to know how to have fun. - Tim Merrill


Amy Ziering Kofman first discovered the writing of Jacques Derrida by chance, in a bookstore, at age sixteen: "His work spoke to me with such immediacy -- I'd never read anything quite like it. It made literature and thinking come alive in a radically new way." she recalls. She entered Yale University shortly thereafter, primarily to study with Derrida (he had, at that time, an annual teaching engagement in the States). "Ten years later, in '94, I approached him after hearing him give a lecture in Los Angeles, and asked him whether anyone had ever made a documentary about him." Derrida was reluctant at first: others before her had tried, without success, and besides, his areas of expertise don't easily lend themselves to cinematic representation. After a flurry of phone calls and faxes, Ziering Kofman finally received an enigmatic correspondence in the mail -- a hand written postcard signed by Jacques Derrida that was completely indecipherable -- his handwriting is notoriously difficult to read. "I just figured I'd better assume he was saying 'yes'," she now laughs.

Over the next several years, Ziering Kofman shot Derrida "in indie film fashion -- i.e., whenever we had money" - in both Paris and the U.S. Then practical difficulties led her to consider seeking a co-director. "I'm an academic, so my hands-on knowledge of actual film production was, at the time, limited." In 1997, she attended a rough-cut screening of Kirby Dick's SICK: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPER MASOCHIST. "I was thrilled by Kirby's refusal to impose value judgments on the sexual preferences portrayed in that film. He wasn't stereotyping; he was open to respecting his subjects without hierarchizing their roles in the classic, static dominant/submissive positions. He was, for me, demonstrating in a way, a Derridean precept, one in which in any system of opposites it is difficult to entirely privilege one position over another." Dick was equally enthused by the footage Kofman had shot. "Looking at Amy's material, I was very struck by the unique and peculiar intimacy of what she'd been able to capture, as well as by Derrida's magnetic screen presence. I said to her: 'Well, you've got your star."

This charisma is something Derrida -- whose work is lionized in Europe has long preferred to shield from public view. "He once told us a funny story that we didn't have room for in the film," recalls Amy. "Up until sometime in the late 70's, I think, he not only had always refused to be filmed, but had, also, categorically refused to ever have his photograph taken. Even though by that time his work had become well established in Europe, most people still had no idea what he looked like. He had, and still has, a firm belief that the cult of personality is, to large degree, ridiculous. But then he started doing more political work, appearing at benefits for public causes. At one time the press was there, and they ended up running a picture of him in Le Monde - but they ran a photo of, I think, Michel Foucault, and erroneously identified it as 'Jacques Derrida.' Well, Jacques has this incredible power hair, and from that point on, realizing he couldn't control the inevitable, he rescinded his own strict media interdiction: 'Well, if they're going to print my picture anyways, it might as well be the right one!'"

This uneasiness with the media continues to this day. "This was the first documentary he consented to that actually got made. Given the seriousness of his work, and his own vigilance and pedagogical imperatives about respecting language, respecting words and the currency they carry, he reasonably fears the impossibility that his explorations could be translated into another medium with the same rigor and care. You can't just take an artist's paintings and transpose them into words. You can't just walk up to Einstein after he's talked about Relativity, and say to him: Hey. Could you explain that again, without all those formulas, so it makes sense? But people come to Jacques with just that misguided expectation. Just because his medium is language, it doesn't mean you can just 'get it' without doing considerable amounts of study, reading and preparation."

For Dick, one of the main attractions was exactly this - the project's seeming impossibility. "I've read a great deal of French theory, which exerted a powerful influence over my other work, especially SICK (1997). Like SICK, Derrida is not simply a straightforward presentation of a man and his work, but it is also an examination of the perpetual interplay between the two. With Derrida, however, the filmmaking challenge was much greater because his work isn't visual. But it was that challenge which drew me to the project a challenge I knew would compel me to come back at the material again and again, and eventually lead to my developing a form that could somehow interpret Derrida's thought in cinematic terms."

When production resumed, Dick and Ziering Kofman decided that Ziering Kofman should remain the primary interviewer, and together they composed the questions she would ask. Over the next two years, they shot Derrida on two different visits to the University of California at Irvine and also arranged to have overseas production crews cover Derrida's trip to Australia as well as his first trip to South Africa, where he gave a series of lectures on the subject of forgiveness. In early 2000, the production returned to Paris, to again cover Derrida's life there and to ask him to reflect on his theoretical and personal observations about the experience of being a subject of a film.

Dick began editing the film the following year, focusing on one of the central themes of the film that Derrida himself had raised: How does one reconcile a thinker's thought with their life? To entirely dismiss the relationship, as Heidegger does, is problematic -- as Derrida himself repeatedly points out. "The challenge, in editing these materials, was to let Derrida's life and thought resonate and interact without either being used to simply 'explain' the other." Including Derrida's playful shows of resistance, dodging questions, or repeatedly reminding the viewer of the artificiality of this or that circumstance in the interview, were essential in Dick's view: "These personal and playful asides are an important part of his thinking, and are found throughout his writing. Emphasizing these moments goes a long way toward countering the prejudice that Derrida is being difficult just to be difficult."

Dick chose to structure the film around excerpts from his work. "I wanted to convey the voice and rhythm of his writing, which is always different from than the way a writer speaks. This is especially true with Derrida, since in many ways the style of his writing is as radical and bracing as the content. Without getting a sense of that voice, one cannot really understand the ambition of his writing." Since one of the most prominent themes of the film, and of Derrida's writing, is that a philosopher's personal life is inevitably implicated in his or her own writing, Dick selected excerpts where Derrida reflects on that theme by writing about his position as writer or speaker, for example in the excerpt where he examines his own blindness to himself when he is improvising, or when he analyzes his position as subject at the very moment he is speaking with his dying mother.

Ziering Kofman agrees. "My strong suit was that I'd already studied with Derrida, already taught Derrida to students. I wasn't intimidated by the material, and had it in mind to make the film work on several levels. My hope was that the difficulty of his thought is not a put-off, but a central part of its appeal. The film is never didactic -- it tries to get you to do part of the work, which is what deconstruction is all about. If you come away from the film not "knowing" exactly what deconstruction is -- you've nevertheless been doing the work of deconstruction, simply by wrestling with the issues the film raises."

Adds Ziering Kofman: "Another attraction is the simple pleasure of having a historic cinematic record of such a person. Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to watch footage today of Plato, or Nietzsche during their lifetime? A hundred years from now, it will be just as remarkable and important to have a cinematic record of Derrida."


DIRECTORS

Kirby Dick -
Kirby Dick is an award-winning director whose last three films have premiered in Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. In 1997, he directed the internationally acclaimed SICK: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST, which was released by Lion's Gate Films. SICK won the Special Jury Prize at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the 1997 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. It also earned an IFP/West Spirit Award Nomination and an International Documentary Association Nomination for Best Feature Documentary of 1998.

Dick's other films include the innovative CHAIN CAMERA, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received rave reviews during its theatrical release. His first feature film, PRIVATE PRACTICES: THE STORY OF A SEX SURROGATE, won Best Documentary at the USA Film Festival. Dick most recently completed THE END, a moving and profound chronicle of five terminally ill patients and their families in a Los Angeles hospice program. He is currently in production on a new film for HBOs prestigious "America Undercover" series.

Amy Ziering Kofman -
'Derrida' marks Amy Ziering Kofman's directing debut. Ms. Ziering Kofman studied with Derrida in a doctoral program at Yale University in the 1980's. She most recently produced the critically acclaimed feature documentary 'Taylor's Campaign', which followed the race for a seat on the Santa Monica City Council by one of its homeless residents.

PRODUCER
Amy Ziering Kofman

COMPOSER
Ryuichi Sakamoto -
Ryuichi Sakamoto is a world class composer whose score for Bertolucci's 'The Last Emperor' won him an Oscar, a Grammy, a Golden Globe and the New York, Los Angeles and British Film Critics Association awards for best original soundtrack. Sakamoto has worked with numerous other noted directors, including Nagisa Oshima (Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Ghotto,) Oliver Stone (Wild Palms), Pedro Almodovar (High Heels), Brian De Palma (Snake Eyes), and for the BBC, John Maybury's 'Love is the Devil'. Sakamoto has also collaborated artistically with David Bowie, David Byrne, Iggy Pop, and Youssou N'dour, as well as writers William Burroughs and William Gibson, and the performance artist Robert Wilson. Most recently, he completed his second film with De Palma, composing the score for the upcoming release 'Femme Fatale.'

EDITOR

Kirby Dick

Matt Clarke -
Matt Clarke most recently edited SHOWGIRLS: GLITZ AND ANGST for HBO's prestigious America Undercover series. Prior to that, Clarke edited the critically acclaimed CHAIN CAMERA, which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Clarke was trained as an editor by the Academy Nominated Dody Dorn (MEMEMTO). He is currently completing editing his third feature documentary for HBO entitled LIVING THROUGH DYING.

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Gil Kofman

CAMERA
Kirsten Johnson -
Kirsten Johnson's camerawork is featured in three films at the 2002 Sundance documentary competition: 'Derrida', 'American Stand-Off', 'The Two Towns of Jasper'. Johnson most recently worked as director of photography on Gini Reticker and Sandy McCleod's untitled documentary about a Ghanian recipient of political asylum. Other work includes Raoul Peck's 'Whose Profit?' for ARTE, Barbara Koppel's series on the Hamptons for ABC, and Katy Chevigny's 'Journey to the West' distributed by Winstar. The documentary 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' which she directed in 1999, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO. She is currently co-directing a documentary with Katy Chevigny on 'The Class of '72' - the group of 588 prisoners who had their sentences commuted when the death penalty was declared unconstitutional in 1972.

 

SOUND
Mark Z. Danielewski
Pascal Depres
Benoit Hillebrandt

ADDITIONAL CAMERA
Richard Atkinson
Baird Bryant
Christine Burrill
Herve Cohen
Mark Z. Danielewski
Gil Kofman
Arturo Smith
Geza Sinkovics
Chris Tetens

ADDITIONAL SOUND
Alan Barker
Kip Gynn
Yuri Racin
Chris Scarfile

ADDITIONAL EDITING
Gil Kofman

FIRST ASSISTANT EDITOR
Brian Jonason

 

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Mark Z. Danielewski
Adam Finberg
Annette Aryanpour
Damien Caldwell

EDITING CONSULTANT
Tristan Brighty

SUBTITLES
Amy Ziering Kofman

POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR
Brian Jonason

MUSIC MIXED BY
Ryuichi Sakamoto And Fernando Aponte

MUSIC RECORDED AT
Kab Studios NYC

MUSIC RECORDED BY
Fernando Aponte

RE-RECORDING MIXER
Mark Linden

TITLES
Mike Kahne

 

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