Art at the core of Cave of Forgotten Dreams

As the Kitchen Stove Film Series moves into its 13th season, it’s starting things off with a documentary on a subject near and dear to the sponsors of the Penticton film festival.

Director Werner Herzog  poses with a paleolithic hunter on the set of his latest documentary

Director Werner Herzog poses with a paleolithic hunter on the set of his latest documentary

As the Kitchen Stove Film Series moves into its 13th season, it’s starting things off with a documentary on a subject near and dear to the sponsors of the festival.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a film that documents some of mankind’s earliest artworks, paintings made more than 30,000 years ago on the walls of the Chauvet Caves in Southern France. By contrast, the well-known cave art at Lascaux is only about half that age.

But while delving into the ancient past, director Werner Herzog also asks some philosophical questions about the very nature of man’s artistic endeavours.

“Because we do films in conjunction with the Penticton Art Gallery, we are always on the lookout for films that are dealing with art, with the evolution of art and the creative process. This is one of those,” said series organizer Rosemarie Fulbrook.

“Your imagination takes you back into a period that you have no understanding or comprehension of. Yet here’s these people that lived millennia ago and they are creating art in their homes,” said Fulbrook. “Why is art so important to people that even in conditions that are not very sophisticated, sophisticated art has been created? Why has it always been important to human kind?”

But beyond the art on the cave walls, Fulbrook said the film itself is a great work of art.

“It’s supposed to be absolutely magical and mesmerizing,” she said. “The filming itself is absolutely magnificent and the caves themselves are absolutely beautiful.”

Only a small number of researchers have seen the Chauvet cave art in person since its discovery in 1994. Access has been extremely restricted due to concerns that overexposure, even to human breath, could damage the priceless drawings.

“I don’t know how the director, Werner Herzog, got permission to do this,” said Fulbrook. “Somehow he managed to not only get permission to enter the caves but film an artistic documentary on the cave art.”

The film fits well with the mandate of the Kitchen Stove Film Series, according to Fulbrook. Not only do they want the films to entertain but they want their selections to challenge the audience in how they see the world around them.

“Some of it is education as well, which is maybe where the Cave of Forgotten Dreams goes,” she said. “We’re looking for things like that, meet all of those criteria. One of the most important things about doing this film series is bringing the world to us.”

This film has a 95-minute running time, so Fulbrook has also managed to add a short film to the evening’s entertainment. Shuffleboard Kings, a comedy about a senior shuffleboard team, was created by a recent graduate of Capilano University’s film program, Chris Atkins.

“It sounds pretty hilarious and I think it will be a lot of fun,” said Fulbrook.

“It’s not really our mandate to showcase young, up-and-coming Canadian filmmakers, but I’ve tried to do that through the short films when we have the opportunity.”

There are two screenings for Cave of Forgotten Dreams on Sept. 22 at the Pen-Mar Theatre; a matinee at 4 p.m. and an evening show at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the entire series, which includes four films through to January are $33 for gallery members and students, $38 for non-members. Single tickets are $12 each and are available at the Penticton Art Gallery (250-493-2928) and the Book Shop on Main Street (250-492-6661). Limited single tickets available at the door.