Noah Teichner’s feature-length essay film Navigators, which premiered on 35mm at the festival Cinéma du Réel in 2022, was released theatrically in France on July 19th. The film is currently being shown on 35mm Cinemascope at the Reflet Médicis in Paris, in addition to DCP screenings in other cinemas. Additional 35mm screenings in other cities in France will take place this summer and in the fall, including at Le Cinématographe in Nantes.
Navigators was entirely made on 16 and 35mm film at the artist-run film lab L’Abominable.
The film recounts the 1919 deportation of 249 anarchists and radicals from the United States to Soviet Russia on the Buford, an ocean-liner that would later become the decor of Buster Keaton’s slapstick comedy The Navigator.
In Navigators, the day-by-day accounts of the Buford’s two most famous passengers, anarchists Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, dialogue with the fictional plight of Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire as the two lone passengers stranded on an immense ocean-liner set adrift. Optically-printed footage from The Navigator and other slapstick comedies and newsreels of the era, handmade letterpress intertitles and footnotes, documents and archives shot on the rostrum camera, modern-day footage filmed on location, and a soundtrack reworked from a collection of 78 rpm records all come together to retrace and analyze both the deportee’s journey across the Atlantic and the broader period of the First Red Scare.
A North American tour of the film and of the 35mm print is currently being planned for early 2024.