Things That Quicken the Heart

A two-day symposium exploring the work of Chris Marker, one of the most prolific and inventive media artists in the history of cinema


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Pedagogy

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Department of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, and the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania


Nora M. Alter, Timothy Corrigan, Nicola M. Gentili, Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté


Rachel Heidenry


University of Pennsylvania's Department of Fine Arts, Department of French Studies, Department of English, Penn Humanities Forum, School of Arts and Sciences, the International House of Philadelphia, and Scribe Video Center

Opens to public



4017 Walnut
Philadelphia, PA 19104


75% Formal - 25% Informal

Slought, the Department of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, and the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to present "Things that Quicken the Heart: A Chris Marker Symposium." This two-day symposium will explore the work of the late French filmmaker Chris Marker, who passed away in July 2012 at the age of 91 and is widely acknowledged as one of the most prolific and inventive media artists in the history of cinema. Working continually since the 1940s, Marker directed some of the most important films in the history of world cinema, including La jetée (1962), A Grin without a Cat (1997), Sans Soleil (1982), and multi-media projects Level 5 (1996) and Immemory (1998, 2008).

The symposium will feature a variety of speakers in conversation, including Agnès Varda, Raymond Bellour, Bill Horrigan, Sam Di Iorio, Lynne Sachs, Hito Steyerl, Renée Green, Dominique Blüher, Rick Warner, Christa Blümlinger, and Gertrud Koch.

In conjunction with the symposium, Slought will present "Ciné-Cat: Marking the City," a street art project across Philadelphia beginning in March 2013. In the film The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004), Chris Marker becomes intrigued by the sudden appearance of painted grinning yellow cats on the streets of Paris. Documentation of these images and personal commentary throughout the film are joined by discussion of political events of the time. Join us for a public workshop at Slought on Wednesday March 6th from 6:30-8pm to make meaning of the grinning yellow cat. The workshop will begin with a discussion of Chris Marker's work, followed by an overview of street art practices and hands-on stenciling demonstrations. Downloadable templates and supplies will be provided in the workshop. Following the workshop, participants will be invited to add their grinning cat to Philadelphia's built landscape.

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French filmmaker Chris Marker was one of the world's most highly regarded and experimental figures in cinema. Marker was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve in 1921 in Neuilly sur Seine, France. He fought for the French resistance during World War II and enlisted as a Paratrooper in the United States Air Force. In the 1950s Marker wrote for "l'Esprit" and "Cahiers du cinéma" and was an assistant to Alain Resnais.

Marker's classic fiction film and best known work, La Jetée, was made in 1962; his first feature-length documentary was produced a decade before. His documentary work includes profiles of the artists Matta and Christo, and film directors Tarkovsky and Kurosawa. Marker's film works make deliberate use of a restricted visual palette, adopting the techniques of cinema's silent era, using dissolves, subtitles and montage effects.

In the 1990s Marker began working with new technologies, reworking elements from his earlier film and television for the video installation Zapping Zones (1992). Marker's video works range from idiosyncratic documentaries to poetic meditations. Among his media-based projects are an interactive CD-Rom entitled Immemory (1998) and the feature film Level Five.

Marker was the subject of a film retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and was a featured artist of the exhibition "Passage de l'image" at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and "Documenta X," Kassel, Germany. Marker lived in Paris until his death in 2012.

March 15th, 2013

Panel 1: Cats Marker Forever
Opening Remarks by Nora M. Alter and Timothy Corrigan
Moderated by Molly Nesbit; Presentations by Agnès Varda and Raymond Bellour

March 16th, 2013

Panel 2: Elephants
An Auteur without an Image: Marker in History
Moderated by Louis Massiah; Presentations by Dominique Blüher, Sam Di Iorio, and Rick Warner

Panel 3: Owls Remembrance of Films to Come: Marker and Future Media
Moderated by Timothy Corrigan; Presentations by Christa Blümlinger, Gertrud Koch, and Bill Horrigan

Panel 4: Wolves The Cinema Rolls On: Filmmakers Under the Influence
Moderated by Rea Tajiri; Presentations by Renée Green, Lynne Sachs, Hito Steyerl

Collaborative Events

Feb 23, 2pm
International House

Screening of Chris Marker's A Grin without a Cat - Le Fond de l'air est rouge (1977, 180 min, French w/ English subtitles)

Feb 23, 7pm
International House

Screening of Chris Marker's Level Five (1997, 106 min, French w/ English subtitles)

March 14, 1-4pm
Scribe Video Center

Master class with Agnès Varda

March 16, 5pm
International House

Screenings of Chris Marker's Early Collaborations:
Walerian Borowczyk, Les Astronautes (1959, 12 min) Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, Toute la mémoire du monde (1956, 21 min, French w/ English subtitles) Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, Les Statues meurent aussi (1953, 30 min, French w/ English subtitles) Alain Resnais, Night and Fog ? Nuit et brouillard (1955, 31 min, French w/ English subtitles)