When Ruiz was approached in 1983 by the prestigious Avignon Festival to direct a play, his response was twofold. In addition to making at breakneck speed an astonishing film of Racine’s Bérénice, in what he called ‘the style of a Mexican melodrama’, he undertook an equally ambitious documentary about the Festival itself. It exists in both a feature length and shorter TV version.
The title The Real Presence refers to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the body and blood of Christ become ‘real’ during the mass. How real, Ruiz wonders, will an actor’s presence be in the interactive video of the future?
Extending the delirious paradox of Calderón’s classic Life is a Dream (which Ruiz would produce on stage and adapt into a film in 1986), the actor Franck Oger tries to collect his royalties and visits the theatre festival, during which he becomes the spectator of his own performance. With Grenoble and Le Havre both offering Ruiz production opportunities, his invention reached new heights of ingenuity and fantasy. —Ian Christie, Rouge
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more