Damian Pettigrew

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Damian Pettigrew
DamianPettigrew.jpg
Born Damian (Damien) Pettigrew
Québec, Canada
Occupation filmmaker, screenwriter, author
Years active 1982–present
Height 188 cm
Awards UNESCO Grand Prize - Best Documentary
1997 Balthus Through the Looking Glass
Lausanne IFAF Prize - Best Photography
1997 Balthus Through the Looking Glass
Prix Arte Nomination - Best Documentary
2003 Fellini: I'm a Born Liar
Marseille IFF Award - Coup de Coeur
2003 Fellini: I'm a Born Liar
Banff World Television Festival Rockie Award - Best Arts Documentary
2003 Fellini: I'm a Born Liar

Damian (also Damien) Pettigrew (born in Quebec) is a Canadian filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, author, and multimedia artist, best known for his cinematic portraits of Balthus, Federico Fellini and Jean Giraud.

Released theatrically in fifteen countries, his film Fellini: I'm a Born Liar won the Rockie Award for Best Documentary at the Banff World Television Festival and was nominated for the Prix Arte at the European Film Awards, Europe's equivalent of the Oscars.[1]

Biography[edit]

Pettigrew's mother was a child psychologist who trained with Anna Freud at the Hampstead Child Therapy Course in 1947. His father, Dr. J.F. Pettigrew, was the first Canadian surgeon to diagnose the heart condition known as aortic coarctation in 1953.[2]

After reading English, French and Italian Literature at the universities of Bishop's, Oxford, and Glasgow (where he discovered the work of Scottish film director Bill Douglas), Pettigrew studied cinema at IDHEC in Paris. At the Cinémathèque Française, he met Brion Gysin and Steve Lacy and began frequenting their artists' circle. If his work is influenced by Gysin's celebrated cut-up technique, the profound and lasting effect on his life was his friendship with Samuel Beckett.

In 1983, Pettigrew launched a remake of Film (film) (1965) starring Klaus Kinski, with Beckett as consultant and Raoul Coutard as cameraman.[3] Kinski’s scheduling, however, proved intractable. Beckett next proposed Jack Lemmon for the role but the project was abandoned when Lemmon explained he was incapable of competing with Buster Keaton (who first played the roles of O and E in 1965). With Beckett and Pettigrew in 1984, the actor David Warrilow initiated Take 2, a tentative sequel to Film, but the project remained unfinished at the playwright's death in 1989.[4] In 1990, Pettigrew settled in Paris to devote himself to filmmaking.

In 1999, he co-founded Portrait et Compagnie with French producer Olivier Gal. He spends a short part of each year on Lake Memphremagog in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.[5]

Work[edit]

Fellini on the set of I'm a Born Liar (1992)
Pettigrew during filming in Rome (1992)

A recognized authority on Federico Fellini, his portrait of the maestro, Fellini: I'm a Born Liar, won the prestigious Rockie Award at the 2002 Banff World Television Festival, receiving excellent reviews in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek International, Le Monde, Corriere della Sera, l'Unità, The Herald, The Telegraph (London), and newspapers throughout Europe, Brazil, Australia and Japan. Nominated for Best Documentary at the European Film Awards, Europe's equivalent of the Oscars, the film established his reputation as a director of "extraordinarily controlled" feature documentaries.[6] The interview transcripts were published in 2003 as I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon with 125 illustrations and a preface by Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich. The Italian director pays particular homage to Tullio Pinelli, his co-scriptwriter on such classics as I Vitelloni, La Strada, and La Dolce Vita.[7]

Other films include portraits of Eugène Ionesco, Italo Calvino, and Jean Giraud. His Balthus Through the Looking Glass, a study of the controversial French painter, was filmed in Super 16 over a 12-month period in Switzerland, Italy, France and the Moors of England. Esteemed by Guy Davenport,[8] it was honored in a cycle of film classics by Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, and Jean Vigo at the Museum Ludwig (Cologne, Germany) in September 2007.[9]

In 2010, Pettigrew directed MetaMoebius, a cinematic essay on French graphic designer Moebius aka Jean Giraud for the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain and CinéCinéma Classic. His documentary, The Irene Hilda Story, based on the European cabaret tradition during the Second World War as experienced by French stars Irene and Bernard Hilda, Micheline Presle and Henri Salvador, was broadcast in France and Germany by ARTE France that same year.[10]

A retrospective of his work in film was held at the Centre des Arts d'Enghien-les-Bains from 5 October 2011 to 28 March 2012.[11] His informal discussion with Ingmar Bergman (conducted in the fall of 2003 at Fårö Island) on the Swedish director's affinities with Samuel Beckett's work was published in L’Âge d’or du cinéma européen in 2011.[12]

In 2012, he completed Inside Italo (Lo specchio di Calvino), a feature-length study of Italo Calvino for ARTE France in co-production with Italy’s Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali[13] and the National Film Board of Canada.[14] Starring Italian actor Neri Marcorè and distinguished literary critic Pietro Citati, the docu-fiction uses in-depth conversations filmed at the writer's Rome penthouse a year before his death in 1985 and rare footage from RAI, BBC, and INA (Institut national de l'audiovisuel) television archives. ARTE[15] and SKY ARTE (Italy)[16] broadcast the 52-minute version on 19 December 2012 and 14 October 2013, respectively.[17]

Pettigrew is currently directing the first feature-length documentary on Carolyn Carlson, the France-based American dancer and choreographer. Begun in January 2012, the 3D film focuses on the creation of several major works by Carlson including Synchronicity (2012), Dialogue with Rothko (2013) and Woman in a Room with Diana Vishneva, principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.[18]

In development[edit]

In development are two feature films: Darkness Visible starring Tim Roth and Eriq Ebouaney,[19] and Beckett, based on the director's experience working with Samuel Beckett.

Selected filmography[edit]

Writer-Director[edit]

Jean Giraud at La Coupole in Paris during filming of Metamoebius (2010)
  • Fellini ou l'amour de la vie (1993)
  • Mr Gir et Mike S. Blueberry (1999)
  • L'histoire d'Irène / The Irene Hilda Story (2009)
  • Fellini : en Six Mémos (2009)
  • Ionesco : Autour du Roi se meurt avec Michel Bouquet (2009)
  • MetaMoebius : Giraud-Moebius, métamorphoses (2010)
  • The Rome Trilogy:
  • Carolyn Carlson Inside-Outside (2015)
  • Antonioni sous une umbrelle (2015)
  • Jean-Jacques Annaud (2015)

Producer[edit]

  • Ionesco : Conversations autour d'une caméra (Ionesco interviews)
  • Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (Fellini interviews)
  • Inside Italo (Calvino interviews)
  • Jean-Jacques Annaud (Annaud interviews)
  • Carolyn Carlson

Screenplays[edit]

Video art[edit]

  • 40RO (1985 / 2008)
  • Marlène (2008)
  • 4 Faces 5 Voices (2008–2010)

Selected publications[edit]

This bibliography is focused on the published interviews that were filmed, produced and directed by Pettigrew in collaboration with the following artists:

Essays on cinema[edit]

  • « Ascenseur (les objets felliniens) » in Fellinicittà (ed. J-M. Méjean). Paris: Editions de la Transparance, 2009 (ISBN 978-2-35700-008-7).
  • « Trois films, trois sourires : quelques regards sur Bergman » in L’Age d’or du cinéma Européen 1950-1970 (ed. Denitza Bantcheva). Chatou: Editions du Revif, 2011.(ISBN 978-2-35051-046-0).

Interviews online[edit]

Awards and festivals[edit]

Information for this section provided by IMDb[21] and the official site of Fellini: I’m a Born Liar.[22]

UNESCO Grand Prize - Best Documentary

  • 1997 for Balthus Through the Looking Glass

Best Photography Prize - Lausanne International Festival of Art Films

  • 1997 for Balthus Through the Looking Glass

Official Selection - 8th Marseille International Film Festival (Vue sur les docs)

  • 1997 for Balthus Through the Looking Glass

Official Selection - 56th Edinburgh International Film Festival

  • 2002 for Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (selected in over 40 international festivals including Edinburgh, Moscou, Amsterdam, Toronto and Montréal)

Nomination Prix Arte for Best Documentary - European Film Awards

  • 2002 for Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

Coup de Cœur Award - 13th Marseille International Film Festival (Vue sur les docs)

  • 2002 for Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

Rockie Award for Best Arts Documentary - Banff World Television Festival

  • 2002 for Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

Homage to Fellini 1993-2003 - Cannes International Film Festival, Cinémathèque Française and Rimini Fellini Foundation

  • 2003 for Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

Official Selection - 1st Cairo Panorama of European Film

  • 2004 for Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

Official Selection - Toronto Jewish Film Festival (selected in 10 international festivals)

  • 2010 for The Irene Hilda Story

Official Selection - 14th Blue Metropolis

  • 2012 for Inside Italo

Italo Calvino Centenary 1923-2013 - Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia

  • 2013 for Inside Italo

Member, The Society of Multimedia Authors of France (SCAM), The Society of Authors of France (SGDL), and ONE Campaign

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ French distributor MK2 International Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  2. ^ Interview with Pettigrew and Caroline Caldier, Radio France, 4 May 2003.
  3. ^ Cited in No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider (ed. Maurice Harmon, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 442-443
  4. ^ Cited in Pettigrew's correspondence with Beckett and David Warrilow archived at Emory University in Atlanta, home to the Beckett Correspondence Project under the direction of Lois Overbeck and Martha Fehsenfeld.
  5. ^ Radio France interview with Pettigrew and Caroline Caldier, accessed 12 August 2011.
  6. ^ David Denby, The New Yorker, April 21, 2003. Based on the maestro's last interviews filmed by Pettigrew in 1991–1992 (Fellini died in 1993), the film was selected in over 40 international festivals including Edinburgh, Moscow, Amsterdam, Cannes and Montréal, distributed theatrically in 15 countries, and sold to television worldwide (source: MK2 International).
  7. ^ For example, Fellini declares that "Tullio Pinelli wrote, for all intents and purposes, the script of La Strada". Fellini and Pettigrew, I’m a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon, 89
  8. ^ Davenport was an early shaping influence on the film and contributed valuable insight in a series of letters to Pettigrew between 1995 and 1996. Their correspondence is archived at L'Arche éditeur (Paris) under the direction of Rudolf Rach. See also Davenport's A Balthus Notebook (New York: Ecco Press, 1989) for a seminal essay on the French artist's work.
  9. ^ In Balthus or Time Suspended: Paintings and Drawings (1932–1960). Cologne: Museum Ludwig, 2007.
  10. ^ Information cited in Arte France. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  11. ^ Le documentaire à l'honneur au Centre des Arts d'Enghien-les-Bains
  12. ^ Pettigrew, “Notes prises durant un déjeuner avec Bergman” in L’Âge d’or du cinéma européen, 75
  13. ^ "Italo Calvino di Damian Pettigrew si è visto assegnare 210 mila euro". Italian co-production investment cited in Direzione Generale per il Cinema - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali at dGCINEWS. Retrieved 24 May 2014
  14. ^ Cited in Portrait & Cie News at IRS-RSI. Consulted 24 May 2014
  15. ^ Dans la peau d'Italo Calvino at Arte France Dossier in French.
  16. ^ Ricordando Italo Calvino, tra sogno e realtà at Sky Italia
  17. ^ In her Le Monde review, Hélène Delye described the film as "fascinating, original, inventive, and very successful" while Jean-Baptiste Gournay of Le Nouvel Observateur observed that "the multi-focus approach is what was needed to grasp so complex an author". Consulted 24 May 14
  18. ^ Cited in Portrait & Cie News at IRS-RSI. Consulted 24 May 2014
  19. ^ Cited in L'Express. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  20. ^ Cited in Kerstin Pilz, Mapping Complexity: Literature and Science in the Works of Italo Calvino (Troubador: Leicester, 2005), 196
  21. ^ Awards, Internet Movie Database. Consulted 24 May 2014
  22. ^ Fellini: I’m a Born Liar at IRS-RSI. Consulted 24 May 2014

External links[edit]