by Maurice Lemaître
Monday July 8, 7pm
video transfer (w/ english subtitles)
35mm, hand-colored and b/w, 59 minutes
suggested donation $6

image copyright Maurice Lemaitre

Le film est déjà commencé?, by Maurice Lemaître, is the second expression of Lettrist cinema, started a few months after Isidoe Isou’s 1951 On Venom and Eternity. Lemaître, who was 25 at the time he made the film, had just spent several months assisting Isou on On Venom… . In Le film est déjà commencé?, Lemaître uses similar techniques as the ones used in Venom that would become distinctive of the Lettrist cinema aesthetic, such as the chiseling of the visual component through physical interventions on the film strip and the discrepancy between image and sound. One fundamental difference is the dominance of the performative element in Lemaître’s film.


The artist conceived the occasion of a screening of the film as an art performance and described it in his screenplay as:

“A pink moving screen will stand at the entrance to the theatre, in the night. One hour before the screening a projectionist will show Griffith’s Intolerance on this screen. The start of the film will be announced at 8.30 but no one will enter before 9.30. During these 60 minutes of waiting, people on the first floor of the building will shake out very dusty carpets, and someone else will throw ice water on the heads of those spectators waiting for the screening. Some actors who have infiltrated the crowd will insult other actors on the first floor. At this moment only, and to stop the beginning of a scandal, the doors of the theatre will open…”


At the premiere on December 7th 1951 at the theatre Le Cluny, drapes covered the screen, the audience was invited onto the stage, actors impersonating spectators were talking to the screen, shouting at each other and throwing things around, and the night was ended by the police, who made several arrests. Apparently, this ending was already included in the original script.

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Maurice Lemaitre is a French artist, writer, filmmaker. He was born in 1926.

image copyright Maurice Lemaitre

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