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Level 5

Director, Photography: Chris Marker
Music: Michel Krasna
Cast: Catherine Belkhodja
Appearances: Oshima Nagisa and others
Producers: Anatole Dauman, Francoise Widhoff
Production Company: Les Films de l'Astrophore, Argos Films
Source: Argos Films
4 rue Edouard Nortier, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine, FRANCE
Phone: 33-1-47-22-91-26 / Fax: 33-1-46-40-02-05
FRANCE / 1996 / French, Japanese / Color / 35mm (1:1.33) / 106 min

Chris Marker

Born in 1921. Faught in anti-German Resistance during World War II. Started to work on documentary film around 1950, and was quickly acclaimed with films such as Sculptures also Die ("Les statues meurent aussi," 1953), co-directed with Alain Resnais; A Sunday in Peking ("Un Dimanche en Péking," 1956); Letters from Siberia ("Lettres de Sibérie," 1958). His SF short La Jetée (1962- 64), entirely composed from still photographs, is admired as a cult masterpiece. As a filmmaker on journey, he has choses Japan as his subject in Le Mystére Koumiko (1964), Sans Soleil (1982), AK (1985), and LEVEL FIVE . Marker has also produced many video works including The Last Bolshevik (1993), screened at the 1995 Yamagata Festival. LEVEL FIVE was also shot on video. Also known as a computer media artist and a fanatic of video games, his multi-media installation Silent Movie, celebrating the centenary of cinema, has been circulating around the US since 1995. His latest work, the CD-Rom Immemory, exploring humanity's and the world's collective memories, is currently on exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.


Director's Statement

There's been a great deal of talk, recently, about a CD-ROM on World-War II. Look up Okinawa. It says, "There were about 100,000 casualties, including numerous civilians....", which is doubly wrong. Japanese military casualties certainly totalled about 100,000. But the civilians were Okinawans, a separate community, with its own history and its own culture, annexed first by China and then by Japan. The number of Okinawan dead is estimated at 150.000, one third of its population--a snip. And many of those were mass suicides, because people had been brainwashed into not surrendering. The case is unique, one of the maddest and deadliest episodes in the Second World War, bypassed by history, erased from our collective consciousness, and that is why I wanted to bring it to light.

Television has made a big difference. The entire Okinawa chapter in Level Five is based in eye-witness account. Picture that in some kind of documentary, slotted into the average viewing day, between some personal tragedy in Bosnia and a Holocaust survivor's story. How many such successive tales of sufferings can the average television viewer take in without losing a sense of the uniqueness of each? There had to be another way.

The answer was a video game, computer graphic, and a lady--my favorite hallucinations. I use what I've got.

Except for the Japanese footage, the film is a duet, manufactured by two people in a room six foot by ten, with no crew, no technical assistance.

My comrade Astruc's notion of camera as a pen was only a metaphor in his day. But we possess the wherewithal--and this is something new--for intimate, solitary filmmaking. The process of making films in communion with oneself.
--From the interview with Dolores Walfisch in the press LEVEL 5


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee