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“...This is the first time I have ever written in the dark ... not knowing whether I am indeed forming letters.” – Diderot
One evening in 1978, French painter Hugues de Montalembert enters his New York flat and finds himself face-to-face with two burglars. A fight ensues, during which one of the men throws solvent in de Montalembert's face. Though the painter's screams drive the burglars away, the fluid's effect is immediate. De Montalembert feels his eyesight waning; the next morning he is blind. The artist faces this dramatic situation with incredible willpower and admirable courage. Two years later he travels alone to Bali, the first of many trips. And he begins to write, by hand, not knowing whether the pen leaves traces upon the paper.
Black Sun tells this unusual story. The film unfolds like a journey of discovery: what happens when a painter goes blind? De Montalembert's visually imprinted brain responds to the darkness with a wealth of images, as if a secret power newly arranges the possibilities of his vision. Filmmaker Gary Tarn adds his own version of what's happening to de Montalembert's poetically narrative voice. In a cinematic tour de force, an audiovisual landscape is created in which dreamlike and everyday pictures stand as equivalent options alongside the artist's real memories and imaginations. In doing so, this visually intriguing essay film confirms de Montalembert's words: “A painter sees beyond seeing... He creates vision.”
Gary Tarn is a filmmaker and composer, born in London, England. A keen traveller, he became captivated by the music of Indonesia, Africa and India, and studied these, alongside the work of European orchestral composers. A passion for film led to a career as a media composer, and it was a natural progression to consider shooting and editing images of his own. In 2000, using a classic 1970’s 16mm film camera, he started to shoot his debut essay feature Black Sun, travelling in the USA, Iceland and India. Based on interviews with the blind author Hugues de Montalembert, the film was released in 2005, won a number of international awards, and was nominated for a film BAFTA. His second film The Prophet, based on the book by Kahlil Gibran, with narration by British actress Thandie Newton, was released in 2012.