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Black Sun

New York Premiere

U.K. | 70 MINUTES | English |


Sudden blindness leads an artist on a journey to regain his independence and ultimately attain a different kind of vision in this haunting, original first-person documentary. In the spring of 1978, French painter and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert was brutally assaulted in his Greenwich Village apartment. His assailants flung paint thinner into de Montalembert's eyes before fleeing. Rushed to the hospital, de Montalembert awoke the next morning almost totally blind. Only light and the most indiscriminate of shapes shone through the swath of darkness. A man who had depended on his vision to make his art was now deprived of the privilege of seeing his art, and the world at large. In Black Sun, de Montalembert narrates his long journey back from that abyss: the painful months of rehab, the strange and often erotic visions that fluttered through his headspace, his attempts to reassert his independence (at one point by traveling to Indonesia alone) and reclaim his identity as an artist. As the subject describes his experiences, director Tarn recreates de Montalembert's interior world through impressionistic visuals and a haunting self-penned score. Images of urban architecture, street scenes from exotic locales, and half-seen faces drift in and out of focus as spare, pulsing orchestral music combines with de Montalembert's richly accented voice to immerse us in the blind artist's perceptual web. Dreamlike and poetic, Black Sun is more than just one man's inspirational life story. It's a profound meditation on the artist's role, in de Montalembert's words, of "creating vision" out of darkness.


Directed by Ishai Setton and Gary Tarn

Born in London, Gary Tarn is a self-taught musician and filmmaker. After studying the music of Indonesia, Africa, and India, as well as European orchestral composers, he began composing music for film and television in the early 1990s. He went on to compose for such projects as Stephen and Timothy Quay's 2003 short The Phantom Museum. From Gary's film exposure, it was a natural progression for him to start shooting images of his own, and he directed and produced the short Making Miyake in 2004. Black Sun is his first feature-length film.