ETEL AND THE MOUNTAIN is the definitive portrait of one of the world’s greatest living artists and poets, 94-year old Lebanese-born Etel Adnan. The film follows Adnan over two years as she draws, paints and reflects on life with philosophical depth and feeling, teaching us about life, art and time.
ETEL AND THE MOUNTAIN follows Adnan over two years in Paris and Brittany as she draws, paints and reflects on art and life. For Adnan, writing and art are extensions of her larger philosophical reflections, a connection the film explores. Conversations about exile are linked by Adnan to the surge of ink on the page, and to footage of her new mural in an immigrant neighborhood in Lille. Discussions about time and line connect to writing, her history, and the knot-by-knot weaving of her tapestries in a rural French factory. The film is with Adnan in the studio, as she travels across Paris to and opening of a new show, into a book signing with Robert Wilson, and as she responds to new shows around the world. In Paris, Adnan speaks profoundly of the landscapes that have shaped her, from Lebanon and the Arab world, to the powerful connection she found in California, to her feelings about the Earth as our celestial home. As discussions circle back to Adnan’s relationship to California’s Mount Tamalpais, a source of philosophical and aesthetic inspiration for over 60 years, the filmmaker travels to the mountain, shooting it over several days, bringing that footage back to Paris-bound Adnan. The film is organized around artistic properties, color, line, dimension, time, etc., with rich expressive shooting and unparalleled access to this great artist who speaks with philosophical depth and insight of art, life, and a plentitude of being.
I first saw the work of Etel Adnan at the 2014 Whitney Biennial, at a time of transition for me as an artist soon to leave New York for Paris. Adnan's small vivid paintings stayed with me. Four months later, I wandered into a Paris art bookshop and turned to see three images by Etel Adnan on the wall, a celebration of the arrival of the catalog of a recent show, “Etel Adnan in All Her Dimensions.” It felt like a sign, if I believed in signs. That evening on the phone I told my mother about my joy in seeing these paintings again and she gasped, “Etel Adnan was my philosophy professor in college!” I soon discovered Adnan was also a major poet and I emailed a New York friend who had published her work and he gave me her email. I emailed Adnan with hopes that she might sign the catalog for my mother. I wrote, telling her how much her paintings had meant to me, and how much her presence had meant to my mother decades before, not expecting a reply. The next morning Etel phoned, inviting me to come by. When I arrived at her apartment the next day, she opened the door to me, saying, 'grand fille' (granddaughter). I am grateful to bring this extraordinary artist to a larger audience through film. Her profound presence, sense of color and time, her writing and philosophic reflection, her engagement with the world are astonishing and instructive, especially now.
Director Marie Valentine Regan
Marie Valentine Regan is an award-winning fiction and documentary filmmaker based in Paris and New York. Trained at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, she studied fine art filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and earned her MFA in directing from Columbia University. A MacDowell Colony Fellow, Marie’s film and video work have screened at more than thirty international film festivals, including SXSW, Bilbao Zinebi and the Sao Paolo Film Festival. Her work has been selected for curated screenings at The American Cinematheque, the São Paulo Museum of Sound and Image, and Le Videoshop, Paris and televised in Asia, Europe, and the USA. In 2015, she co-directed the Oberhausen Film Symposium, a gathering of filmmakers, archivists and scholars exploring the future of the moving image. In 2017, she was a member of the Hamburg Film Festival experimental jury. In 2009, she participated with artists Petra Bauer and Hito Steyerl and others in Maria Lind’s CCS 'Greenroom Project: Reconsidering the Document in Contemporary Art'.
Marie has taught film at Columbia University, Barnard and Bard College. Now based in Paris, she teaches filmmaking and film theory and chairs the film department at the American University of Paris
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