Pere Portabella (b. 1929, Barcelona) is a veteran Spanish filmmaker whose narrative features—rich in interludes, plot diversions, atmosphere, and unexpected synchronies between sight and sound—limn the avant-garde and expand the expressive potential of cinema. Portabella, who began his cinematic career as a producer of fiction films implicitly critical of General Francisco Franco, had his passport revoked when Luis Buñuel's Viridiana (1961), which he helped to make, "embarrassed" Spain at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. When democracy returned to Spain, Portabella served as a senator in the Catalan government. However, throughout his various careers, Portabella continued to make cinema, investigating meaning in the moving image and flexing the notion of genreparticularly for horror films, fantasy films, and thrillers. MoMA first screened a Portabella work—Vampir Cuadecuc (1970)—on January 27 and 28, 1972, in its Cineprobe program. After a thirty-five year absence, the Department of Film is honored to welcome Portabella back to introduce the New York premiere of his recently completed The Silence before Bach (2007). Roundtable discussions will also be held at New York University, September 27–28. All films directed by Portabella.
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, and Mark Nash, Professor and Head of the Department Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London.
Pere Portabella is made possible with the support of the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX). The organizers gratefully acknowledge the MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani, Barcelona) and Portabella's own production company, Films 59, for the loan of films and texts. Additional support and programs are provided by New York University through The King Carlos 1 of Spain Center and The Catalan Center. Thanks go to Anabel García and Marta Rincón of SEACEX, Marcelo Espósito and Jorge Ribalta of the MACBA, and Mary Anne Newman and Laura Turégano at NYU.