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Paris, May ’68: Zanzibar and Philippe Garrel

May 12 – 27

During the volatile late 1960s in Paris, the filmmaking collective known as Zanzibar began creating outsider underground movies, many of which are now lost or neglected. The group (consisting of Philippe Garrel, Jackie Raynal, Serge Bard, Daniel Pommereulle, Olivier Mosset, Frédéric Pardo, Patrick Deval, Caroline de Bendern, Zouzou, and one or two others) resembled a clique of Warhol Factoryesque characters — artists, writers, actors, and models, a few of whom had actually worked at the Factory. Though all were cinephiles, jointly they had only modest movie-making experience. Yet the Zanzibar films, with their refreshing lack of regard for revenue, are infused with the countercultural energy and restlessness of May 1968. Zanzibar’s benefactor, hippie heiress Sylvina Boissonnas, generously funded many of these works in expensive 35mm format. Within two years’ time, however, Boissonnas had moved on to other projects. Similarly, most members of the group eventually abandoned filmmaking, though Jackie Raynal made a few more films and Patrick Deval worked for French TV. Only Philippe Garrel — the group’s nominal leader — achieved notable fame as an arthouse director. Special thanks to Sally Shafto, Jacob Perlin, Jackie Raynal, Patrick Deval, Trissia Pardo, and Balthazar Clementi for their assistance.

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The National Gallery of Art’s film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world.

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