This March, HOME present a Paul Auster-inspired film season this March to accompany City of Glass, the new theatre adaptation of one of the best-selling author’s most famous works. The Brooklynite novelist behind such acclaimed works as Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy, Auster has made no secret of his love of cinema, even making occasional forays into filmmaking in recent decades. This four-film season, featuring titles selected by Auster himself, includes two of his own works set alongside classics from Frances Ford Coppola and Krzysztof Kieślowski.
As a novelist, Auster has a long association with cinema, often mining it for setting, mood and stressing its importance as an medium that can both illuminate the world and connect its inhabitants. His 2008 book, Man in the Dark, for example, features a relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter who grieve separate tragedies by holing up with movies and having long, insightful conversations on such art house staples as La Grande illusion, The Bicycle Thief and The World of Apu. Similarly, Auster’s novel The Book of Illusions, released in 2002, tells the story of a man who tackles grief with cinema – this time through an obsession with a silent movie star that draws him back into the world.
If Auster’s novels indicate a deep relationship with cinema, they take a decidedly literary form: full of dreams, morphing identities and post-modern devices that don’t necessarily translate easily to the screen. He has stated that in his youth he felt that he was too shy to marshal a cast and crew as a film director, finding the solitary occupation as novelist to be a better fit. But his interest in cinema got the better of him and, having found work as a screenwriter, Auster eventually made his way behind a camera: first as a co-director on Smoke and its companion piece Blue in the Face (screening at HOME on Sunday 5th March), and then working alone to direct Lulu on the Bridge and The Inner Life of Martin Frost (Sunday 19th March at HOME).
His films, like his novels, have been praised as atmospheric and self-reflexive, maintaining the playfulness and interest in existential themes that brought acclaim to his written work. With the Auster-directed films set alongside his selection of Coppola’s sharply conceived surveillance thriller The Conversation, and Kieślowski’s politically sensitive imagining of three separate futures, Blind Chance, HOME’s season provides an fascinating insight into the mind of a multi-faceted (not to mention multi-talented) artist.