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The Role of a Lifetime, 2003

The Role of a Lifetime was commissioned in 2003 by the uk based association Art in Sacred Places for the Brighton Parish Church of St Peter, Brighton, England. An interview with British Flmmaker Peter Watkins,I recorded in Lithuania where Watkins lived for many years, serves as the voiceover. Watkins’ reflections shift between theoretical thoughts about the structure and the truth of documentary film and biographical considerations of the personal motives behind his films. The film alternates such disparate visual imagery as views of Gruto Park in Druskininkai (a repository of Socialist Realist sculpture from the post-war era), and footage of Brighton life shot by an amateur film enthusiast and deposited in the Film and Video Archive in Brighton. These three discordant components, and the disjunctive montage of image and commentary, reflect the fragmented nature of contemporary experience. These insertions, from another time, another place and another story, also thicken the web of suggested meanings, and the story acquires an almost inexhaustible wealth of links, connections and connotations. Exploring the influence of the mass media on the way we see the world, the film closes with a both ardent and pessimistic plea by Watkins for the necessity to criticise the power structures inscribed into the ways in which the media record and portray politics and history.

Narkevicius explores the perception of history and the mechanisms that transform it through utopias or ideologies. He focuses on the personal and individual, often structuring his work around forgotten or repressed testimonies and stories. His films grapple with universal questions about our political and moral obligations to history and memory. He never engages with historical material as something irrefutable; on the contrary, he does so to reveal its contingency. He aims to show how our understandings of truth and reality are constructed, mediated and even manipulated in and through representation. Different cinematographic techniques and narrative procedures overlap in his films. Through his use of archival material, animation, interviews, rudimentary film collage, tailored audio tracks as well as his own footage; Narkevicius expands the temporal and spatial boundaries of his narratives. His films go beyond the circular or linear temporality, challenging the claim to truthfulness of the documentary genre of historiography through such means as the separation of voice and image. Researching the conventions used by filmmakers to construct documentary reality, he is interested in the way film works on us, shaping our perception of events, moulding our comprehension of the world.

Technical details

Original title:
The Role of a Lifetime
Registration number:
Narkevicius, Deimantas
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 16 min 52 s
Edition number:
Ed. 3/5 + 2 P.A.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
© Deimantas Narkevicius, VEGAP, Barcelona
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