For several years already the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has been a huge « cultural center » and the first philanthropic institution in Russia to create a comprehensive public mandate for contemporary art. Launched in 2012, Garage Screen shows Russian and international film, including features, documentaries, experimental pictures, festival hits, and animation. 2018 was the first year when we decided to put our synergies together and thus, Garage Museum became a partner of the two-day Swiss Cinema Weekend, which last year was titled Cherchez la femme. For the second consecutive year, Garage was our partner in 2019: two screenings covered topics which are also a priority within the Museum’s extensive program: regional minorities (with the documentary Yenish Sounds by Karoline Arn, Martina Rieder) as well as mentally handicapped children (documentary At the Philosophers’ School by Fernand Melgar). The screening of the 2nd film was followed by a discussion involving Yulia Akhtyamova, psychologist at Moscow’s Osoboe Detstvo (Special Childhood) Center for Curative Pedagogics, and Cédric Blanc, Director at Verdeil Foundation where At the Philosophers’ School was filmed, who could share their experience of working with children with mental disabilities and explain why inclusion is important for society at large. And what a surprise was it to the audience, and to the speakers too, to find out that all the successes of children, and with them all their defeats, and the problems, are very similar in both countries.
Also, classic art galleries don’t remain indifferent to interdisciplinarity: famous for its rich collection of masterpieces of Russian art of the 11th – early 20th century, as well as temporary exhibitions of international artists, one the main museums of Russian national art, the Tretyakov Gallery has recently been transforming into an extensive art complex with educational and cultural programs. One of the pillars of these activities is obviously the cinema department of the museum, with educational film programs, special retrospectives for exhibitions, classics of Russian and world cinema, as well as meetings and discussions with directors, actors, film critics.
We have tried our common forces for the first time in 2019 answering the questions “how to become a Swiss“ (or what one needs to be a Swiss) while watching and discussing: The Swissmakers by Rolf Lyssy, which still remains one of the most successful Swiss movies, dealing with the many woes of foreigners who decide to obtain Swiss nationality; the anthology Wonderland in which 10 young Swiss filmmakers ask critical questions a la Frisch or Dürrenmatt, and the animated documentary Chris the Swiss by Anja Kofmel, a unique cinematic experience, selected in the program of the Cannes Film Festival, about the mysterious and tragic refusal of neutrality.
The festival of films is, of course, not only about screening & watching, but furthermore is « an art of meeting, hosting, mutual care, and respect » – here we are quoting the Verdeil Foundation’s motto in their daily life work and activities, which we try to profess and practice in our work, and with our partners too.