The American Film Institute AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Washington D.C. in collaboration with the Culture Office at the Embassy of Spain and the Mexican Cultural Institute will present the retrospective series “Objects of Desire: The Films of Luis Buñuel” running October 27 through November 23.
The series includes more than 20 of the Buñuel’s most singular films, both canonical screen classics and underappreciated rarities. The singular vision of filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900–1983) may have dictated a similarly one-of-a-kind career arc. Co-creator, along with Salvador Dalí, of the classic surrealistic films Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’âge d’Or (1930), the scandalous reception that greeted both films earned Buñuel no commercial opportunities, the Catholic Church’s opprobrium, exile from the ascendant fascism of 1930s Europe and more than a decade without making another feature film.
After a seven-year sojourn in the U.S. during the war years –among other jobs, he worked in the MoMA film department– Buñuel re-invented himself in Mexico City, where he started to make more commercial-minded films in the late 1940s.
Buñuel was awarded Best Director at Cannes in 1951 for Los Olvidados, a surprisingly harmonious alignment of the director’s surrealist taste in image making with the more accessible Italian-style neo-realist drama then in vogue. Buñuel continued to make outstanding films in Mexico for the rest of the 1950s, even if most were too-little seen by the rest of the world, before another landmark success in 1961 with the Palme d’Or-winning Viridiana, his triumphant, controversial and slyly subversive return to Franco’s Spain.
His genius now fully recognized and celebrated alongside the fellow iconoclasts of the New Wave of European filmmakers, Buñuel suddenly found both funding and audiences for his subsequent projects, both back in Mexico (The Exterminating Angel, 1962) and in Europe, where he worked steadily until the end of his career. Buñuel’s later films explicitly engage with his obsessions, dreams and desires, dispensing with the pretense of realism that characterized the middle period of his long career, in a fitting return to the daring of his earliest, experimental Surrealist films.
Buñuel’s films are always challenging, and often liberating; his characters suffer for their illusions but discover inspiration in their disillusionment; with the sacred consorting happily with the profane.
Click here to visit the full program.