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 genre—particularly 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 35-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.