In 1933 Henri Storck, who was one of the leading figures of Belgian avant-garde, asked Joris Ivens to help him make a film about the social consequences of the miners’ strike in the Borinage the year before. Arriving at this mine region Storck and Ivens forgot about aesthetics. As Henri Storck tells: “We stopped thinking about cinema and how to frame shots and instead became dominated by the irrepressible need to produce images as stark, bare, and sincere as possible to fit the cruel facts reality had thrown at us.” In a sober style the film confronts the spectator with the misery of the miners; unemployed or exploited by the mine companies they were, with their families, expelled from their homes if they couldn’t afford the rent. Ivens used the method of re-enactment to incorporate the miners’ strike of 1932 in the film. —ivens.nl
Joris Ivens (18 November 1898, Nijmegen – 28 June 1989, Paris) was a Dutch documentary filmmaker and committed communist.
Born into a wealthy family, Ivens went to work in his father’s photo supply shop and from there developed an interest in film. He completed his first film at 13; in college he studied economics with the goal of continuing his father’s business, but an interest in class issues distracted him from that path. Originally his work focused on technique – some argue that it had that focus at the cost of relevance, especially in Rain (Regen, 1929), a 10-minute short filmed over 2 years which features impressive cinematography and a number of ‘characters’ (but no information about them aside from what was visible) and in The Bridge (De Brug, 1928), which showed a frank admiration of engineering and also featured a number of “characters” but again did not give any information about them.
In 1931 Ivens went to the Soviet Union… read more
Henri Storck (1907, Ostend – 17 September 1999) was a Belgian author, film-maker and documentarist.
In 1933, he directed, with Joris Ivens, Misère au Borinage, a film about the miners in the Borinage area. In 1938, with Andre Thirifays and Pierre Vermeylen, he founded the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique (Royal Belgian Film Archive). He was an actor in two key films of the history of the cinema: Jean Vigo’s Zéro de conduite (1933) in the role of the priest, and Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quay Commercial, 1080 Brussels (1976) in the role of a customer of the prostitute.
Jacqueline Aubenas wrote about him, in her expository work, It’s been going on for 100 years: a history of the francophone cinema of Belgium: “There emerges forcefully the personality of a cineaste who is not a militant in the sense that this term had in the 1930s for Soviet directors who held an ideology, but in the sense of a generous man who will never choose the wrong side and who will be, in… read more