E59 - CHARACTER PORTRAYAL IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

BONJOUR CINÉMA 2021 in partnership with ARTRA

The nuances of cinematography in symbolizing diverse perspectives celebrate the artistry of its subject, that which encapsulate in moving images, sound and music, beauty and wonder, tragedy and humour, love and war. Bonjour Cinéma, in these regards is a remarkable experience of culture, and film of which ARTRA is proud to partner with the Embassy of France for the fourth consecutive year in presenting selected art house films for this year’s film series. In this edition of ARTRA Magazine, we present a curated collection of four of the most quintessential cinematic encapsulations from the film series to be showcased this year. Showcased at alternate cinema screens across Sri Lanka, Bonjour Cinéma 2021’s versatile selection of films are varying in genres and beautifully crafted by celebrated French directors. Each film still featured on this edition of ARTRA Magazine, on pages 40, 41, 42 and 43 are photographs of symbolic nuances which are profoundly indicative of the film director’s vision. 

The curated collection of film stills begins with a portrait from ‘Africa Mia’ of its protagonist – Boncana Maïga. An observation eclipsed by the beautiful yet subtle hues of soft blue, almost artistic in its encapsulation as though the landscape was strategically chosen, an aesthetic that is indicative of the film’s thematic gradient applied to portray the distinctions between an old world and a new world.  The story of ‘Africa Mia’ takes place in 1964 in the midst of the Cold War. The film follows ten young promising musicians from Mali who are sent to Cuba to study music and strengthen cultural links between the two socialist regimes. But it is the concept of taking the future into the past or perhaps seeking the past in the future that is symbolized in the image of the juxtaposition between the polished automobile against the decrepit walls of the old city. Directed by Édouard Salier and Richard Minier, ‘Africa Mia’ rediscovers iconic group ‘Las Maravillas de Mali’ through former band member Boncana Maïga, whose portrait we see in the image – his adornment a symbol of his heritage. 

A depiction of the protagonist’s trajectory is symbolically presented in the featured film still from ‘La Promesse de l’aube’on page 41 of ARTRA Magazine April/May E59. ‘La Promesse de l’aube’, translating to ‘Promise at Dawn’ presents a picturesque pose on the runway as the pilot, windblown and leather jacket donned, walks away – from what one seeks to question, signifying the subjects of the plot. The elusive tangents captured create the narratology of the film and sets the stage to comprehend the outline of the story. Directed by Éric Barbier and starring actor Pierre Niney and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, the film is an adaptation of novelist Romain Gary’s ‘Promise at Dawn’. The featured film still is symbolic to the life of Romain Gary; narrated through the novelist’s perspective. The cinematography captures tumultuous scenes between his life in the war and his maternal relationship – two turbulent forces that mould his mind-set.   

The featured film still showcased on page 42 set against theatre props and a dusky ambience, a regal lady takes to the stage, her expression aggrieved and posture delicate, embodies the essence of performance praxis, a symptomatic element of the dichotomy between cinema and theatre. Directed by Alexis Michalik and starring Thomas Solivéres as Edmond Rostand, ‘Cyrano, My Love’ is a refreshing film that revolves around a writer’s struggle to produce a script that satisfies those in charge. While the duality of the film’s identity is pondered upon – to be perceived as theatre or cinema, and the inherent significance of each role – the featured film still portrays smirking Edmond Rostand and equally smug henchmen in the viewer’s territory. The contrast between the vitality of the director’s role and the practice of his submission under the eyes of his spectators are portrayed in nuanced stances, from his expression to his position and the knowing glances that surround him.

The recurring thematic influence on the chosen films for Bonjour Cinéma 2021 comprehends the complexities and compelling protagonists, their emotional strengths and distinct vulnerabilities explored through satire, tragedy, and romance. The photographic stills chosen to be published on ARTRA Magazine Apr/May E59, are curated to decipher the symbolic resonance to each film, for its cinematographic excellence as it follows not only the focal point of each story but celebrates culture. 

21st April, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings

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