1929. Belgium. Directed by Henri d'Ursel. Screenplay by Georges Hugnet. With Kissa Kouprine, Hugnet, Mary Stutz, Renée Savoy. Silent; French intertitles and English subtitles. 33 min.
1927. Belgium. Directed by Charles Dekeukeleire. Based on the poem by Paul Werrie. With Henri Dupont, Jean Demey, Pierre Bourgeois, André Germain. Silent. 8 min.
1932. Belgium. Directed by Henri Storck. Courtesy the Fonds Henri Storck. Silent. 11 min.
In celebration of the MoMA exhibition Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, Nicola Mazzanti, director of the Royal Film Archive of Belgium, has curated a program of Surrealist masterworks from their collection. Belgian cinema experienced a renaissance in the late 1920s with the emergence of filmmakers who, together with artists like René Magritte and Paul Delvaux, created a distinctive form of Surrealism—one that inscribed, in Ernst Moerman's words, “a world where nothing is impossible, and where a miracle is the shortest route from uncertainty to mystery.” Mazzanti’s program traces this radical and subversive tradition from early experiments by d’Ursel, Dekeukelaire, and Storck—strange narratives in which desire and death are conjoined—to the award-winning animation of Raoul Servais in the second half of the 20th century, including Harpya, the film for which he won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Magritte, who held sway over these experimental filmmakers, is represented by one of the best documentaries about his work, filmed by Luc de Heusch—who, together with Storck, was key to the development of Belgian documentary cinema. All films preserved by the Royal Film Archive of Belgium.