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Anselm Kiefer
Still from Sophie Fienne’s documentary about Anselm Kiefer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow


Aug. 8, 2011

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A new documentary on German Neo-Expressionist Anselm Kiefer takes a cue from its portentous subject and eschews the genre’s typical style of narration and biography in favor of a solemn meditation on Kiefer’s artistic practice. Opening today at Film Forum, through Aug. 23, 2011, director Sophie Fiennes’ long-awaited Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow observes Kiefer at work over two years as he constructs a monumental complex of installations and structures at a ghostly former silk factory in Barjac, France, which he originally bought in 1993 as a studio.

Outside of a single interview with Kiefer and occasional banter with his assistants, viewers don’t hear anyone speak. The camera often sits idle on a work, framing it like a canvas, and the most intensity comes from the dramatic, tremolo-laden score by Gyorgi Ligeti. Fiennes focuses instead on Kiefer’s process -- melting metals, breaking panes of glass, stacking concrete blocks, running forklifts and dusting paintings with ash. The camera travels into the labyrinth of underground chambers, tunnels, an amphitheatre and the bucolic countryside where Kiefer created his landscapes and installations.

Fiennes, who previously collaborated with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek for 2006’s The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, took the title from Kiefer’s longstanding fascination with architectural ruins and history. He says in the film, “The Bible constantly says everything will be destroyed, and grass will grow over your cities. I think that’s fantastic.”

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