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Mathieu Amalric

Three films on John Zorn

June 5, 2023
Florence, Cinema La Compagnia
Free entrance

Press review of the event

Lo schermo dell’arte presented the Italian premiere of the three films that French actor and director Mathieu Amalric has dedicated to John Zorn, American saxophonist, clarinetist and composer, one of the most influential and brilliant musicians on the contemporary scene.

The event is organised on the occasion of the eighth edition of Secret Florence, a strategic project of the Estate Fiorentina 2023 promoted by the Municipality of Florence.

In programme at Cinema La Compagnia (Florence) on Monday, June 5 2023 from 6 PM, Zorn I (2010 – 2016), Zorn II (2016 – 2018) and the recent Zorn III (2018 – 2022).
Conceived to be screened during Zorn’s concerts, have been be presented on this occasion in the presence of the director and for the first time in Italy in their time sequence.

Amalric met Zorn in 2008 and began following and filming him at every possible opportunity, capturing his creative process with great sensitivity. By himself at the camera and sound, he films the composer during rehearsals, studio recordings, concerts and in moments of private life, in a continuous quest to capture the essence of this great artist of our time. Thus was born a trilogy of films, still a work in progress, in which each episode shows us a different aspect of the Zorn universe.

Mathieu Amalric

Winner as Best Actor of three César Awards for the films Comment je me suis disputé… (ma vie sexuelle) (1997), Kings and Queen (2005) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2008), he has worked with major directors including Julian Schnabel, Wes Anderson, Roman PolaĹ„ski and Steven Spielberg. He is one of the protagonists in Nanni Moretti’s latest film Il sol dell’avvenire. As an author, he won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 with the film Tournée. His most recent films include Barbara (2017), Serre moi fort (2021), Maîtres anciens (2022).


Monday, June 5 2023
Zorn I (2010 – 2016)

by Mathieu Amalric, 2016, 54′

The film brings together numerous moments and fragments filmed in different years and places, and is similar in its construction to a musical score. There is nothing planned in this film, it is all held together by Zorn’s joyful passion. Featuring Bill Frisell, Mike Patton, Dave Douglas, Joey Baron, Marc Ribot, Greg Cohen, Bill Laswell, Brian Marsella.

Zorn II (2016 – 2018)

by Mathieu Amalric, 2018, 59′

The most intimate of the three episodes, in which footage is overlaid with text inserts, key words written by the musician himself. Amalric is now literally enraptured by Zorn, hand-held camera and images full of emotion tell of his creative spirit, the atmosphere he creates in his sessions. He listens to him, occasionally intervening with a sudden appearance or a comment. Throughout the film, one has the impression of witnessing a magical ritual, with ample references to the Jewish roots of Zorn’s music.

Mathieu Amalric in conversation with Enrico Romero (Controradio, Firenze Jazz Festival)

Zorn III (2018 – 2022)

by Mathieu Amalric, 2022, 78′

The third episode focuses on the rehearsal of a single work, Jumalattaret, and the relationship (also epistolary) between Zorn and soprano Barbara Hannigan, a world star of contemporary music. Jumalattaret is a song cycle composed by John Zorn inspired by Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem that narrates the exploits of mythological creatures that fear no violence and know no human or natural barriers. A tricky composition, technically at the limit of human and vocal possibilities, in whose piano part Stephen Gosling stands out. A focus on the complicated expressive process in which Zorn’s vision emerges: to abandon the idea of a perfect performance in order to reach a deeper, more human level.

Art, cinema, dance and music

Secret Florence, a strategic project of Estate Fiorentina, presents its eight edition.
The project, carried out by the five internationally active institutions based in the City of Florence’s urban area (Fabbrica Europa, Lo schermo dell’arte, Musicus Concentus, Tempo Reale, and Centro Nazionale di Produzione della Danza Virgilio Sieni) is imagined for a series of scenic spaces, most of which are being used for the first time, where dance, music, art, and cinema performances adapt each time to the architectural and acoustic characteristics of different locations. This way the actions that compose the performances help rediscover traditional spaces under a new light, allowing to establish different aesthetic perspectives in previously unused buildings or environments, or to reveal forgotten or unknown cultural events and histories. All the artistic offerings are unique to their territory and in some cases are also completely new within the worldwide panorama of contemporary artistic research. The program includes free events and events with strongly discounted prices.

Secret Florence is realised by:
Fabbrica Europa, Lo schermo dell’arte, Musicus Concentus, Tempo Reale, Centro nazionale di produzione Virgilio Sieni

With the support of:
Comune di Firenze, Estate Fiorentina 2023

We thank the Institut français Firenze for the collaboration