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Seeing double in Wroclaw


The Era New Horizons Festival in the picturesque town of Wroclaw, in south-western Poland, explores the various intersections between cinema and the arts. One of the most entertaining, intriguing and, at times, baffling works presented there this year, Double Take, is a fine example of a work that reunites several disciplines and, as a result, is hard to classify.

The film, if it can be considered as such, is the work of Belgian artist Johan Grimonprez, who made a name for himself with the film essay Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y..

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His latest project is inspired by a Tom McCarthy story that was in turn inspired by tale from Jorge Luis Borges, which seems fitting for a work that fractures past, present and provenance. In Grimonprez's concoction, archive footage is used to make director Alfred Hitchcock, on the set of The Birds, meet an older version of himself.

But Alfred's meeting of his double is only the starting point for a reflection on the power of television, fear-mongering in the 1960s and the use of doubles in real and fictional lives.

A wealth of archive material and some newly shot footage are combined in what is a continuation of Grimonprez's installation Looking for Alfred, which toured the museum circuit in 2005.

The audacious, dense and well-assembled film may be hard to classify, but is almost impossible to ignore. It is a testament to Grimonprez's talent that he can talk about many weighty subjects and also deliver an entertaining work at the same time. The film was produced by Belgian outfit Zap-O-Matik, in co-production with Nikovantastic Film and Volya Films.

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