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The Machine That Kills Bad People: My Twentieth Century + Madame a des envies
Institute of Contemporary Arts
A black and white image of a feminine person with curled blonde hair, eating grapes and staring off-screen
My Twentieth Century, dir. Ildikó Enyedi, Hungary / West Germany 1989, 103 min.

A fin-de-siècle double bill of films by Alice Guy and Ildikó Enyedi that evoke the wonder of cinema's invention and the anticipation of societal revolution.

Taking place onboard the Orient Express on New Year’s Eve 1899, Ildikó Enyedi’s My Twentieth Century is a joyous fable of scientific, political and sexual revolution that follows the lives of two twins, Lili and Dóra, born in 1880 in Budapest at the same moment that Thomas Edison presented his electric lightbulb to the world. Shot in luminous black and white, Enyedi’s first feature film echoes the exuberance of early cinema.

Also on the edge of the twentieth century, French secretary Alice Guy (later Guy-Blaché) directed one of the earliest narrative short films La Fée aux choux (The Cabbage Fairy, 1896). She would then go on to set up her own production company Solax Studios, and to direct hundreds of titles. In her Madame a des envies (Madam’s Cravings, 1906), a pregnant woman played by Guy herself seeks to satisfy her immense appetite, seizing a vast quantity of things to eat, drink, and smoke.


Madame a des envies, dir. Alice Guy, France 1907, 4 min.
My Twentieth Century, dir. Ildikó Enyedi, Hungary / West Germany 1989, 103 min.
The Machine That Kills Bad People is, of course, the cinema – a medium that is so often and so visibly in service of a crushing status quo but which, in the right hands, is a fatal instrument of beauty, contestation, wonder, politics, poetry, new visions, testimonies, histories, dreams. It is also a film club devoted to showing work – ‘mainstream’ and experimental, known and unknown, historical and contemporary – that takes up this task. The group borrowed their name from the Roberto Rossellini film of the same title, and find inspiration in the eclectic juxtapositions of Amos Vogel’s groundbreaking New York film society Cinema 16.

The Machine That Kills Bad People is held bi-monthly in the ICA Cinema and is programmed by Erika Balsom, Beatrice Gibson, Maria Palacios Cruz and Ben Rivers.

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated, and start with a 10 min. curated selection of trailers.

Red Members gain unlimited access to all exhibitions, films, talks, performances and Cinema 3.
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Essay by Juliet Jacques