GARY TARN is an award-winning filmmaker and composer. His feature documentary Black Sun, executive produced by Alfonso Cuarón and co-produced by John Battsek, has screened worldwide. Tarn has also adapted Kahlil Gibran’s classic multi-million selling book THE PROPHET, narrated by Thandie Newton.
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
Carl Foreman Award
Nominee, Black Sun, 2007
British Independent Film Awards
Best British Documentary
Nominee, Black Sun, 2005
Feature Documentary Films competition
Nominee, The Prophet, 2011
Documentary festival Grand Prix
Winner, Black Sun, 2006
Newport International Film Festival, Rhode Island
Jury Award - Best Documentary
Winner, Black Sun, 2006
Sarasota Film Festival
Special Jury prize - Documentary
Winner, Black Sun, 2006
Sukhdev Sandhu THE TELEGRAPH
Co-produced by Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Gravity, Children of Men) and John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man, One Day in September), Black Sun tells the story of Hugues de Montalembert, a French artist and filmmaker living in New York, who was blinded during a violent assault in 1978.
Combining de Montalembert's audio narrative with signature 16mm visuals, the film explores the immediate and longer-term consequences of the attack as de Montalembert reflects on his perception of the world. A portrait of a unique man and his remarkable reaction to a life-changing trauma, Black Sun is a poetic cinematic meditation on an extraordinary life without vision.
THE PROPHET takes Kahlil Gibran’s classic poetic novel and spins it into a cinematic exploration of love, life and loss. An intimate narration, by British actress Thandie Newton, is integrated into director and composer Gary Tarn's minimal score for orchestra, guitar, cello and synthesiser.
Gibran's fictional text is juxtaposed against footage shot on the filmmaker's solo travels to Lebanon, Serbia, New York, Milan and London. Finding beauty in the everyday, the film leaves space for each viewer to find their own meaning : an uninhibited eye observing the world through the lens of poetic wisdom.
Peter Bradshaw THE GUARDIAN
Trevor Johnson TIME OUT Critics Choice
THE TELEGRAPH Sukhdev Sandhu
Black Sun is one of the most remarkable British films to appear for a long time. Scratch that: it's one of the boldest, most beautiful and haunting films to have appeared from anywhere. Gary Tarn's poetic documentary takes as its starting point the awful night in 1978 when a young French artist and filmmaker called Hugues de Montalembert was attacked by muggers as he was walking through the streets of New York. They flung paint stripper in his eyes and blinded him for life.
This film, based on de Montalembert's autobiography, and narrated by him, is part survivor's testimony, part philosophical meditation on the nature of perception, and - ultimately - a celebration of life itself. The Frenchman recalls how after his attack he would make films in his head, start seeing very erotic images, and get approached by all manner of staff and patients at the hospital in which he was recuperating. His blindness led them to view him as a vat into which they could pour their most intimate confessions.
Tarn directed, edited and sound-designed the film by himself. His is an extraordinary evocation and reimagining of de Montalembert's interior world, more adventurous even than that of the late Derek Jarman, whose film Blue consisted of actors discussing mortality over a single blue screen.
Here, exquisite, woozy colours ripple and refract, drift and fade. When combined with footage of the Asian cities through which the artist travelled alone as part of his recuperation process, they create lush and subtly melancholic portraits of modern society that recall Chris Marker's landmark Sans Soleil.
Black Sun is a film about blindness that makes us see the world hungrily, deeply, anew.
EMPIRE David Parkinson ****
“Narrated with moving simplicity… exquisitely illustrated… challenges the subjective nature of reality and turns New York into a place that's at once terrifying and wondrous. Rarely have the concepts of identity, memory, faith and hope been explored with such poetic courage.”
EVENING STANDARD Derek Malcolm
"a poetic, sensitive and beautifully shot meditation on a triumphant life without vision"
HOT DOG Marie Findley
“You cannot fail to be profoundly moved...as the narrator’s painful, poignant story opens our eyes to a beautiful world we shamefully take for granted.”
THE INDEPENDENT Nicholas Barber
"...innovative work of art that provides all the facts and anecdotes of a conventional documentary, but which immerses them in a mesmeric ambience all of its own.”
THE GUARDIAN Peter Bradshaw
"A quietly impressive cinematic meditation...A valuable filmic essay."
TIME OUT Gareth Evans *****
‘So through the eyes love attains the heart, for the eyes are scouts of the heart and the eyes go reconnoitring for what it would please the heart to possess...’
It might have been written 800 years ago but this sensual declaration by troubadour Guiraut de Bornelh catches precisely the primary intentions of this remarkable new British film, an extraordinary essay on the epiphanies of looking. In 1978, French artist Hugues de Montalembert enjoying great success in New York, was mugged in an acid attack and lost his sight. Astonishingly, within a matter of months, he was travelling alone to Indonesia, reversing all expected responses to an assault that, in a single corrosive moment, destroyed his profession and vocation, while threatening the foundations of his identity and humanity.
In a feature-length voiceover, the artist reveals the inevitable despair that initially ensued, but then moves into an emotionally and philosophically charged celebration of being alive in the phenomenal world. A remarkable statement of personal resistance, it is accompanied by a river of images, of cities and landscapes – the locations visited by de Montalembert – that deploy a lyrical but grounded visual language similar to that of work by Jonas Mekas, Peter Mettler and, most relevantly, Chris Marker, with ‘Sans Soleil’.
But this project is no pastiche of influences. Entirely Gary Tarn's film, ‘Black Sun’ never seeks easy illustration of its subject’s journey, physical or otherwise; rather, it catches the luminous materiality of the seen as a means to the most searching spiritual enquiry. A work for all places and times, for anyone who seeks fully to live, to engage, it is indeed essential viewing.