BOZAR is welcoming the Franco-Swiss director Barbet Schroeder for the screening of his Trilogy of Evil and what will be the Belgian premier of the work that completes the series.
Although you may not be familiar with his name, you will certainly have heard of his films. Barfly (1987), the infernal Reversal of Fortune (1990) and the gripping Single White Female (1992) are among Barbet Shroeder’s major works. The filmmaker, no doubt one of the most gifted directors of his generation, has made a series of unforgettable films starring such major actors as Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke, Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons, and Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Their dazzling performances in portraying memorable characters engaged in finely woven intrigues owe much to Schroeder’s talent as an actors’ director who knows the secret of getting truly magical performances from his cast. His unusual background has continuously fuelled his exceptional ability to explore the depths of the human soul, penetrating to its most hidden and darkest corners. Never presaging its duplicity or prejudging its weaknesses, he shows it as it reveals itself to be. Raw and uncensored.
His past has caused him to embrace the paradoxes, contradictions and vagaries that make up the often-enigmatic complexity of the human condition. Born in Tehran in 1942, he spent his childhood in Colombia with his German mother and Swiss father. On arriving in Paris and discovering cinema, he indulged his passion at the Henri Langlois Cinémathèque. While there was every reason to expect him to become an adherent of the New Wave (having founded Les Films du Losange in 1962, he produced numerous films by Rivette and Rohmer), he chose a very distinct path that took him to the four corners of the globe before settling in the United States where he met, among others, the famous writer Charles Bukowski. From the extensive interviews he recorded for his documentary The Charles Bukowski Tapes to the very Hollywoodian Desperate Measures, Barbet Schroeder made a name for himself in the United States, working with such prestigious actors as Andy Garcia and Nicolas Cage.
Deciding against a career in California and all it could offer, he next turned his attention to Colombia’s cartels, setting up his camera in Medellin to capture the shady world of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar (La Virgen de los sicarios). Since the 2000s he has offered a highly personal cinema and filmed on every continent, his works ranging from the documentary on France’s notorious defence lawyer Jacques Vergès (Terror’s Advocate, 2007) to such refined fictions such as Amnesia (with Marthe Keller). At various points in his career he has also appeared in works by Tim Burton, Patrice Chereau and Éric Rohmer.
A much-acclaimed director – his works having been nominated at the Oscars, the Césars and at Cannes – Barbet Schroeder nevertheless avoids the limelight and media circus as he resolutely treads his own path. Unafraid to explore the limits of our system of civilizational values, his work is a reflection of a bold and inquiring spirit. This is particularly true of his Trilogy of Evil which we are screening in his presence. Three documentaries on three figures who embody this evil that he seeks to circumscribe: General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974), on the Ugandan dictator, Terror’s Advocate, a portrait of Vergès that is also a portrait of the accused he defends (terrorists, Nazis, etc.), and The Venerable W. (2017), which seeks to understand anti-Muslim violence in a country that is 90% Buddhist and thus practices a way of life based on tolerance.
We invite you to discover this free spirit who is never afraid to break with convention. A filmmaker who offers up a mirror in which we so often refuse to see the reflection of our weaknesses and our errors. A mirror into which you too are invited to look.