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Mubi Takes Global Streaming Rights to South African Artist William Kentridge Series ‘Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Indie streamer Mubi has acquired worldwide streaming rights to South African artist William Kentridge’s prestige series “Self-Portrait As a Coffee Pot” which explores how art is made in the digital age.

The nine-episode series by Kentridge – who is celebrated around the world for his influential works comprising animation, installations, theater, opera and films – first previewed as a rough cut at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival.

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Kentridge lays bare his creative process in the nine 30-minute videos produced in the artist’s Johannesburg studio during the pandemic and its aftermath, between 2020 and 2023. In “Self-Portrait As a Coffee Pot,” Kentridge also invites audiences to reflect on the same philosophical questions that he poses to himself across the episodes, including how do our memories work, what makes us ourselves, and why does history always go wrong.

“Playfully deconstructing and assembling the pressing concerns of our time as works of art,” Kentridge uses “hand-drawn animations, dialogues with collaborators and doppelgängers, holds a light to unseen ideological forces that govern the world we live in,” according to a provided synopsis.

Multiple-Oscar-winning U.S. film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, whose name is closely linked to 1970’s directors such as George Lucas Francis Ford Coppola, supervised the editing done by South African digital artist Janus Fouche and Kentridge’s regular collaborators Zana Marovic and Joshua Trappler.

The “Self-Portrait As a Coffee Pot” series will premiere on April 17 at the Arsenale Institute for Politics of Representation in Venice, Italy, as an installation curated by prominent art historian and curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and will subsequently travel to top-tier art institutions around the world.

“Self-Portrait As a Coffee Pot” is executive produced by Rachel Chanoff and Noah Bashevkin of London and New York-based production company The Office Performing Arts + Film and by Oscar-nominated producer Joslyn Barnes of New York indie Louverture Films – which she co-founded with Danny Glover – whose titles comprise Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tilda Swinton-starrer “Memoria,” and by the William Kentridge Studio.

The deal was negotiated by Mubi and Joslyn Barnes, and entertainment lawyer Sasha Levites of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz on behalf of the producers. It gives Mubi exclusive global streaming rights through the purchase of the first of a limited number of editions sold by the artist’s galleries Hauser and Wirth and Goodman Gallery.

Mubi and the producers noted that “this unprecedented combination of fine art acquisition and streaming rights is an exciting innovation for both the filmed entertainment and art worlds,” they said in a statement.

“The idea of the series was really made possible by the present nature of streaming. To watch at your own pace; it’s become a natural form in which to work,” said Kentridge. “Mubi is so very well-curated, they are a great partner to launch with into the world,” the artist and director added.

“Throughout the process of making this series, as William has evinced the courage to engage the art form of cinema, I have found myself again overcome with emotions and wonder as illustrations dance across notebooks, a visiting chorus of singers finds their voice, received wisdom is challenged, artifice is unveiled, and we as viewers are invited to unleash our own imaginations and take part in creation,” said Barnes.

Mubi’s roster of recent and upcoming releases include Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” Ira Sachs’ “Passages,” Pedro Almodóvar’s “Strange Way of Life,” and Molly Manning Walker’s “How to Have Sex.”

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