WHERE I AM IS HERE
11th November at 7pm - Sallis Benney Theatre
WHERE I AM IS HERE - Films from Margaret Tait and Friends
Part of CineCity 2018
A poet, a defiantly independent filmmaker, an artist of unique and extraordinary vision – the great Margaret Tait would have been 100 on November 11th 2018. We’re celebrating her centenary with a special programme featuring new restorations of Tait’s film poems, alongside rare 16mm screenings from artists working in the tradition of intimate, first person cinema.
Tait once said of her films, that they are born "of sheer wonder and astonishment at how much can be seen in any place that you choose…if you really look."
'Scottish film-poet Margaret Tait produced an exquisite body of work combining poetry, portraiture, music, ethnography, and animation. She studied filmmaking in Rome during the height of Italian neorealism before returning to Scotland in the early 1950s, where she found inspiration in the contrasting daily rhythms of Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands. In an early jewel of a film, A PORTRAIT OF GA (1952), Tait cut together birdsong and snippets of Orkney lore with shots of her mother and the rugged island landscape to produce a startlingly poignant impression of family and place. She explored similar themes in later films like WHERE I AM IS HERE (1964), COLOUR POEMS (1974), and AERIAL (1974) – each screening tonight - reflecting on the passage of time while attending to the details of everyday life.’ (Amy Beste)
Screening tonight are films from Margaret Tait, Marie Menken, Ute Aurand, Annabel Nicolson and Joanna Margaret Paul.
Friday 19th October at 7.30pm at the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton
Milford Graves Full Mantis
Jake Meginsky + Neil Cloaca Young / USA / 2018
The first ever feature-length portrait of renowned percussionist, thinker and creative dynamo Milford Graves, a suitably free-flowing exploration of his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity. Graves has performed internationally since 1964, both as a soloist and in ensembles with such legends as Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan and Sonny Sharrock. He is a founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz, and he remains one of the most influential living figures in the evolution of the form. Graves tells stories of discovery, struggle and survival, ruminates on the essence of "swing", activates electronic stethoscopes in his basement lab to process the sound of his heart, and travels to Japan where he performs at a school for children with autism, igniting the student body into an ecstatic display of spontaneous collective energy.
Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist's complex cosmology with intense performances from around the globe, Milford Graves Full Mantis features a 77-year-old polymath who is anything but ordinary, and shows no signs of slowing down, in a documentary as radical as his music.
'Stunning...a captivating sound poem.' - The New York Times
'An exquisite music film and an example of how vital documentaries about music, art, life and the creative process are when created with passion and imagination.' - The Quietus
‘A riveting experience whether you're familiar with Graves or not’ - The Wire
Thursday 28th September 2017 in The Friends Meeting House, Brighton
Isiah Medina, Canada, 2015, 65m
One of the most acclaimed and hotly debated experimental films in recent years, Medina’s debut is a fragmented, digital diary exploring ideas of time, love, philosophy, poverty and poetry.
88:88 follows Medina and friends through a densely layered montage of notes, sketches, reality and re-enactments, edited from a variety of sources and formats. 'Converting the flashing 88:88 clock - the reset display that appears when power is restored to dwellings - into an equation of love and infinity, Medina’s film seeks to explore alternate ways of being, resulting in one of the most unique representations of class and race in Canadian filmmaking and sounding the arrival of a fresh new voice.' TIFF
'A bold debut feature that audaciously rethinks the possibilities and language of cinematic form. A powerful and original new voice has been discovered.' - Sight & Sound
BEHIND THE EYES
Friday June 16th at Phoenix Brighton
Betzy Bromberg, 1978, USA, 13 mins, 16mm
A heated, summer-in-the-city excursion into the streets, strip clubs and low rent apartments of late 70s, pre-Giuliani NYC. ‘Verite footage of Lower East Side bikers, Times Square topless dancers, and Coney Island crowds achieve a highly charged atmosphere of manic exhibitionism.’ J. Hoberman / Art Forum.
‘In Ciao Bella, Bromberg shows us a world of crowded New York streets and hauntingly empty interior spaces, graced briefly by wisps of childish energy and the provocation of nearly naked women. She deftly contrasts such vibrant exuberance with a sense of devastating loss, and the effect is at once brazenly personal and incredibly powerful. Unfolding desire merges with the ever-present reality of the threat of losing what you love' Holly Willis, IFilm
The Day Before the End
Ang Araw Bago ang Wakas
Lav Diaz, Philippines, 2016, 16 mins
It's 2050 and passages from Shakespeare are recited by non-actors in a nocturnal city awaiting the onslaught of a raging tempest.
Diaz is one of the most exciting artists in contemporary cinema. His sprawling sagas of Philippines tumultuous, recent history are epic in scope, while bracingly intimate in style, challenging notions of storytelling and how cinema gives images and sound to voices unheard.
Winner of the Principle Prize at Oberhausen, the Jury say it's 'a work of political urgency. Made by an artist known for works that unfold over many hours, this short film is both elaborate and succinct.'
Vivir para Vivir / Live to Live
Laida Lertxundi, 2015, USA, 11min, 16mm
Opening with a quote from Argentinean writer Adolfo Bioy Casares - 'If I want to remember what happened on this trip, what should I do?', Lertxundi's search for answers takes us from sparsely populated mountain regions via Lertxundi's ECG recordings to Tashi Wada’s sine waves - all the while it's the filmmaker's body itself that shapes image, sound and colour.
Laida Lertxundi is a Spanish filmmaker and artist living and working in California. Her films, shot in and around Los Angeles, are self reflexive, enigmatic and intensely beautiful. They read like subtexts to stories waiting to be told.
Laida Lertxundi Homepage
Fern Silva, 2014, USA, 14 mins
Nature's outlaws have begun to take over, engulfing and taming civilization after centuries of attack, forcing humans to adapt and evolve. Wayward Fronds references a series of historical events that helped shape the Florida Everglades, while fictionalizing its geological future and its effects on both native and exotic inhabitants.
'New York based Fern Silva is a contemporary master of 16mm filmmaking. His works reach toward exciting new cinematographic languages while embodying committed engagement with the troubled, bewildering and at times exhilarating complexities of globalism. Driven by curiosity and memory - and drawn to myth, folklore and mysticism - his films explores narrative, ethnographic and documentary forms while elaborating a strong personal and poetic cinematic vision.' SF Cinematheque
Fern Silva Homepage
Ai - Ye
Ian Hugo, 1950, Mexico, 22 mins, 16mm
A rare screening of Hugo’s first film, a free-form kaleidoscope of colour, sound and image, shot largely from the prow of a boat journeying along the Pacific Coast of South America - through sleeping villages and tropical lagoons to the mouth of a volcano in the clouds. The hypnotic soundtrack of chants and drums was improvised as the film unrolled by Ozzie Smith and recorded by electro pioneer Bebe Barron. Interpreted by Anais Nin as the universal story of mankind’s voyage, Hugo says ‘I used documentary footage as a starting point, and I showed their gradual transformation into dream - the language of multiple dimensions of our inner world.'
Blue Loop, July
Mike Gibisser, USA, 2014, 5 min
Chicago’s summertime blazes, unanchored. Part of Gibisser's series of night time long exposures, Blue Loop, July focuses on a long-standing celebratory tradition in one of Chicago’s lower west side neighbourhoods. By leaving the camera’s shutter open for seconds at a time, the film transforms a summertime spectacle into a dazzling, light-trace animation.
Jeff Keen, 1999, UK, 7 Mins, Cassette
While the late, great Brighton based experimental filmmaker is best known for his dense, hyper-kinetic pop culture animations, this short audio piece reveals another aspect to his work. Summer Tape is drawn from a collection of field recordings Keen made by leaving a cassette recorder running to capture a Nightingale singing from the overgrown gardens outside his studio. As you listen, through a haze of cassette static, the environment itself falls into focus.
BEN RIVERS PRESENTS
WHAT MEANS SOMETHING
Thursday 18th May at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Brighton
What Means Something
Ben Rivers, UK, 2016, 66 minutes.
We’re excited to welcome back to Brighton one of our favourite filmmakers - Ben Rivers will be here to introduce What Means Something, his warm, immersive portrait of the painter Rose Wylie. Filmed at her remote home/studio in Kent over the course of a summer, it’s a joy – a celebration of art, friendship and the working of two creative processes on either side of the camera.
Just as Wylie's house is a living repository of her working methods, the film lays bare Rivers' own artistic approach. Through candid conversations and observing Wylie at close quarters as she works on large-scale canvases, drawings and watercolours, we're offered a rare insight into the process of image-making for the painter and filmmaker alike.
Rivers has said of the film, ‘I met Rose a few years ago and we got along well. I went to visit her studio and she watched some of my films. Happily she liked them. So I asked her if I could make a film about her and she agreed. The film, finally, is a meeting between two friends.’
Ben Rivers studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, initially in sculpture before moving into photography and super8 film. After his degree he taught himself 16mm filmmaking and hand-processing. His practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, the raw film footage provides Rivers with a starting point for creating oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds. Over the past 15 years he’s created a unique body of work and has been the recipient of numerous international awards.
Ben Rivers Homepage
'Rose Wylie (Kent, 1934) was educated at Goldsmiths College and Royal College of Art. Her large-scale painting is energetic and gives a sense of freedom and spontaneity. Her images are drawn from memory and inspired by different levels of visual culture, from cartoons to films, daily events and art history. The raw brushstrokes laid on with tremendous physicality and the rough texture of impasto bring a sense of immediacy, and the combination of text and figure connects her work to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Philip Guston. Wylies paintings combine simplicity and innocence, though under closer inspection they reveal a complex world of references and stories. Her work is included in many public art collections, such as the Contemporary Art Society and Arts Council England, London.' Jennifer Higgie
EVERY MAN EVERY
WOMAN IS A STAR
Thursday 20th April 2017 at Phoenix Brighton - Main Gallery
Every Man Every Woman is a Star
Hollywood’s hidden reverse – the Star System as re-imagined by American underground cinema
1928 - 1966.
Outer and Inner Space
Andy Warhol, 1966, USA, 33 mins, Twin Screen 16mm
One of Warhol's most intense films is also his earliest experiments in double screen cinema. Outer and Inner Space features factory superstar Edie Sedgwick in a loose conversation with her own videotaped image. Sedgwick had risen to overnight, underground fame after chain-smoking on the set of Vinyl – Warhol’s adaptation of Clockwork Orange. In Outer and Inner Space, however, her cool is broken and she is never less than animated - laughing, frowning, critiquing, performing, but also increasingly unnerved, not by Warhol's 16mm camera, but by her own pre-recorded video self.
Both 16mm reels runs for 33 minutes and are played side by side; What you see is the incredible presence of Sedgwick x 4 - alternating video/film, video/film, the soundtrack itself becomes a mesmerising murmur in which only isolated phrases (''We had better times than anybody else,'' ''I don't believe it'') float to the surface of audibility.
'Outer and Inner Space' is one of Warhol's great portraits -- a masterpiece of video art made before the term even existed'. J Hoberman / NY Times. You can read Hoberman's full article on Sedgwick and the background of the film here
Kenneth Anger, USA, 1949, 6 mins, 16mm
From its dazzling opening cascade of dancing gowns through to a mysterious journey on a floating couch, we follow the reveries of a reclusive Hollywood starlet played by Yvonne Marquis. Often overlooked as simply a fragment of an unfinished feature, Puce Moment is in itself perfect Anger – a marvel of colour and composition, lighting and shadow, dream and ritual, juxtaposed by two amazing lo-fi songs given to Anger by Jonathan Halper, who too would shortly retire from consensus reality. ‘Yes I am a hermit and ecstasy's my game…’
Little Stabs at Happiness
Ken Jacobs, USA, 1960, 15 mins
Meanwhile in the rundown tenement flats and on the rooftops of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Jacob's early short captures his former friends Jack Smith and Jerry Sims at play - both effortlessly exuding a wayward, all star exuberance against the everyday. 'Material was cut in as it came out of the camera, embarrassing moments intact. 100' rolls timed well with music on old 78s. I was interested in immediacy, a sense of ease, and an art where suffering was acknowledged but not trivialized with dramatics. Whimsy was our achievement, as well as breaking out of step.' Ken Jacobs
Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra + Live Soundtrack from Lizzy Carey and Tim Wilton
Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich, USA, 1928, 11 Mins
Made on shoestring budget and shot in Vorkapich’s kitchen using odds and ends – paper cubes, cigar boxes, tin cans, refracted light and stop motion cutouts, ‘Life and Death…’ tells the story of the fall and heavenly redemption of a hapless young actor chewed up by the Studio system. Florey and Vorkapich's DIY take on German Expressionism became an unexpected mainstream hit thanks to its championing by the likes of Charlie Chaplin. We're very pleased to welcome artists Lizzy Carey and Tim Wilton who will rework the film and create a new, live soundtrack.
SOLID LIGHT LANDSCAPES
Friday 7th April 2017 at Phoenix Brighton - Main Gallery
Solid Light Landscapes
Join us for a programme of rare, experimental 16mm screenings, re-enactments and performance that upend and play with our expectations of how we can view cinema. Includes Anthony McCall, the Western ideal, paper planes, the original (and best) flicker movie and Lorah Pierre.
Line Describing a Cone
Anthony McCall, 1973, USA, 30 mins, 16mm
McCall’s first, groundbreaking ‘solid light film’ was produced in August 1973 shortly after he fell under the spell of the New York art scene, after a move from London. The film begins as a luminous, pencil thin line cuts through a projection space filled with smoke (originally from cigarettes). Over 30 minutes, as McCall's hand animated line marks out a circle, a full, three-dimensional conical form emerges from the darkness. The traditional focus on the screen is abandoned - the audience is free to move around, interact, each viewing position revealing a different aspect. Merging the realms of film, sculpture and performance, Line Describing a Cone is still - over forty years on - a unique, collective experience. ‘No other film gives its viewers an experience of cinematic space like this one…It is astonishingly beautiful.’ Scott MacDonald
Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks on viewing Line Describing a Cone
Tate Notes 8 / Interview with McCall
Ernst Schmidt Jr, 1968, Austria, 10 mins, 16mm
Though largely overlooked by film academia, Schmidt Jr. left behind a fascinating, multifaceted body of work that includes experimental documentaries, expanded cinema and a feature length drama. This is his homage to Howard Hughes’ 1930’s WW1 aviation epic of the same name. Schmidt’s interactive short replaces Hughes’ on screen fighter planes with off screen paper planes. Material will be provided or feel free to prepare your own Fokkers and Spitfighters before hand.
Peter Kubelka, 1960, Austria, 6 mins, 16mm
Composed only of cinema’s purest elements of light and darkness, sound and silence, Arnulf Rainer remains one of the most radical achievements in film history. For six minutes and 24 seconds the film's ever-changing metrical variations of transparent and black film frames, deafening white noise and relative silence, is dazzling, roaring, darkening...even soothing. Screening on 16mm – Kubelka has never sanctioned any his films for use on digital format. “I lost most of my friends because of Arnulf Rainer” Kubelka.
Song of Rio Jim
Maurice Lemaître, 1978, France, 6 mins, 16mm
Lemaître is an artist, filmmaker, painter, writer and libertarian poet born in Paris in 1926. The Song of Rio Jim pays tribute to Ince and to Hart, ancestors and creators of the Wild West genre. Its classic cowboy narrative is imageless and played out in sounds that prompt the spectator to create their very own vision of the greatest Western ever filmed.
Opening Performance: Hardware Electronics, Material and Sound - Lorah Pierre
Pierre is a sound and light artist working across a number of disciplines - the recycling of materials, self-built hardware, hacking and bending, along with a DIY ethos that allows interactive installations and performances to develop out of temporal space. She has collaborated with scientists, performers and musicians. Pierre is the founder and curator of The Experimental Sounding Board, a live platform for collaboration between sonic and visual modes of improvisation.
Shoot Shoot Shoot
London Film-Makers Co–op: Expanded Cinema Event
CineCity + LUX + Open Colour Present
Thursday 24th November at 7pm
Sallis Benney Theatre
Shoot Shoot Shoot
London Film-Makers Co–op 50th Anniversary and Book Launch
The LFMC was founded in October 1966 as a distributor and film laboratory for avant-garde cinema. Within this unique facility, film-makers were able to control every aspect of the creative process. Many explored the material aspects of celluloid, whilst others experimented with multiple projection and performance-based ‘expanded cinema’. This artist-led organisation asserted the significance of British work internationally, and anticipated today’s vibrant culture of artists’ moving image. Tonight's programme features rare single, double and triple projection 16mm films by Malcolm Le Grice, Lis Rhodes, Jeff Keen, Guy Sherwin, Gill Eatherley, Annabel Nicolson and others.
Introduced by Mark Webber.
Berlin Horse – Malcolm Le Grice (2 screen) 7min
Dresden Dynamo - Lis Rhodes 5 min
Mario Movie – Jeff Keen 5 min
At The Academy – Guy Sherwin 5 min
Hall – Peter Gidal 8 min
Slides – Annabel Nicolson 12 min (18fps)
Play (2 screen) – Sally Potter 7 min
Diagonal (3 screen) - William Raban 5 min
Hand Grenade – Gill Eatherley (3 screen) 8min
‘Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers Co-operative 1966-76’ (LUX, 2016), edited by Mark Webber, has been published by LUX to celebrate the LFMC’s 50th anniversary, it brings together texts, interviews, images and a large number of archival documents in exploring the history of the early years of the organisation.
Thursday 3rd November at 7.30pm
Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton.
A selection of short abstract films which involve electronic music soundtracks, including several rarities and two world premieres that push abstraction and electronic sounds into the realm of psychedelic experience.
There will be the first screening in over 50 years of the rediscovered FC Judd 8mm cine footage of his Chromasonics invention, plus the first UK screening of one of the earliest films to feature a Moog synthesizer score; both the film and music created by US composer Andrew Rudin in 1967. There'll be two new Ian Helliwell video feedback films with Hellitron generated soundtracks and MORE!
Programmed and Introduced by Ian Helliwell
VAMPIR – CUADECUC
Wednesday 28th September at 7.30pm
in the Friends Meeting House, Ship St, Brighton, BN1 1AF
Vampir - Cuadecuc
Pere Portabella., 1970, Spain, 67 minutes
Filmed on set during the shooting of Jess Franco's 'El conde Drácula / The Count Dracula', Vampir - Cuadecuc is both a rapturous, dreamlike reflection on the conventions of horror cinema and covert political allegory. Portabella dismantles Franco's film in two ways: On the one hand, he eliminates colour in favour of lush, high contrast black-and-white images, on the other, he replaces the on-set audio track with a fabulously dissonant soundscape by Catalonian modernist Carles Santos. It all adds up to a poetic alchemy in which Portabella transforms one of Jess Franco’s lesser efforts (and we’re fans) into one of the most beautiful movies ever made about anything.
"The first word in the title of Pere Portabella's ravishing 1970 underground masterpiece, made in Spain while General Francisco Franco was still in power and shown clandestinely, means both 'worm's tail' and the unexposed footage at the end of film reels. The film is a silent black-and-white documentary about the shooting of Jesús Franco's Count Dracula, with Christopher Lee, that becomes much more: the high-contrast cinematography evokes deteriorating prints of Nosferatu and Vampyr, and the extraordinary soundtrack by composer Carles Santos intersperses the sounds of jet planes, drills, syrupy Muzak, and sinister electronic music, all of which ingeniously locate Dracula and our perceptions of him in the contemporary world. Moving back and forth between Franco's film (with Dracula as an implicit stand-in for the generalissimo) and poetic production details, Portabella offers witty reflections on the powerful monopolies of both dictators and commercial cinema. The only words heard are in English, spoken by Lee and written by Bram Stoker." Jonathan Rosenbaum
"I wandered into a screening of this movie at a film festival a decade or so ago with absolutely no idea of what it was, and it felt like being smacked with a tuning fork. I was amazed that it existed; I was amazed that I'd lived without it for so long. If you've spent too much of your life watching movies then you've probably also spent too much of your dreamlife imagining being inside the movie, and this is easily the finest cinematic representation of that dream. Oddly enough, by the end of it, it had also proved itself to be my new favorite vampire movie." Andrew Bujalski
CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR
Open Colour and Fabrica Film Club Present
Wednesday 10th August at 8pm
at Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG
Cemetery of Splendour
Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Malaysia | 122 minutes | 2015
The latest masterpiece from visionary Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul is, like his beguiling Palme d'Or winner 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives', a transfixing, enigmatic work of restrained “magical realism” that delivers the mythical and mundane in equal, hushed tones.
In 'Cemetery of Splendour', a unit of soldiers have succumbed to a mysterious sleeping sickness. A young medium acts as a go between using her psychic powers to help visiting family and friends communicate with their comatose loved ones. As events unfold she begins to suspect the soldiers’ enigmatic syndrome links them to an ancient burial ground that lies beneath their makeshift clinic.
Mesmerising and gently humorous, 'Cemetery of Splendour' is a sublime fusion of history, memory, mysticism and socio-political allegory.
Top 10 film of 2015 for Sight & Sound, Cahiers du Cinema, and Cinema Scope. Brighton Premiere!
DAISIES + SHORT FILMS FROM CHICK STRAND
+ TAMARA HENDERSON
Dreamland and Open Colour Present
Sunday 24th July at 7.30pm
at 88 London Rd, Brighton, BN1 4JF
Introduced by Miska Morning - PHD candidate in Czech Surrealism and Cinema
Vera Chytilová, 1966, Czechoslovakia, 76 mins
Two young women, Marie 1 and Marie 2, deciding that the world is irrevocably corrupt, run amok through a series of exuberant, anarchic adventures – drinking, feasting, trashing apartments and goading aged would-be suitors. Fifty years on, Daisies remains an amazing explosion of absurdist humour, lurid random tinting, deep eyeliner and proto-feminist politics. A milestone of the ‘Nová Vlna’, Chytilová's masterpiece was banned by the Czech authorities till 1975 for ‘depicting the wanton’.
‘A film that incites radical fantasies and exults in the dream of a repressive social order being destroyed. It’s a trip, a surreal manifesto, a joy to behold’ Telegraph
"One of the great outpourings of cinematic invention in an age of over-all artistic liberation …a dazzling, bewildering catalogue of visual effects." The New Yorker
Artificial Paradise (Chick Strand, 1986, USA,13 min) / 16mm screening
Strand is a major West Coast filmmaker whose pioneering work combines elements of documentary, ethnographic and experimental cinema. ‘Artificial Paradise’ is one of her boldest experiments – an ecstatic, hypnotic visual encounter aiming to collapse the distance between filmmaker and subject.
Accent Grave on Ananas (Tamara Henderson, USA/Canada 2013 3 mins) / 16mm screening
A full three-minute slice of gorgeously flawed pop perfection. Henderson’s gleeful free associations and in-camera choreography sculpt a dream landscape from signs of waking life. We’re on paradise beach with pineapples, but still no one’s answering the phone. Thankyou Rodeo Gallery for this print.
Fabrica Film Club and Open Colour Present
Thursday 16th June at 7pm
at Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG
Tape Leaders - Book Launch and short film screening
To celebrate the publication of Ian Helliwell's Tape Leaders - A Compendium of Early British Electronic Music Composers, this event combines a programme of short films with electronic music soundtracks, plus a talk and discussion with several of the composers featured in the book.
Tape Leaders is a comprehensive reference guide for anyone interested in electronic sound and its origins in Great Britain. For the first time details are set out on over 100 music-makers active before 1970, to reveal the untold story of early British electronic composition. After six years of research and dozens of interviews, Helliwell has amassed information never before brought to light in this fascinating subject. For people interested in early analogue synthesizers and Radiophonic Workshop era musique concrete, this volume will be essential reading. A specially compiled 15 track CD of mainly unreleased early electronic tracks comes with the book, copies of which will be on sale.
Mr. Benn - The Spaceman (1970)
FC Judd: Mad Motors (1974)
Ken Gray Electrosculpture extracts (1976)
Expo Parade (1958)Hazel Swift:
Shirt Factory (1963)
Stuart Wynn Jones: Short Spell (1956)
William Pye: Scrap to Sculpture (1971)
The Post Office Tower (c.1968)
Discussion with composers Laurie Scott Baker, Ron Geesin, George Newson and Ian Helliwell, chaired by Angus Carlyle..
VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS + SHORTS FROM JAN SVANKMAJER
Thursday 25th February at 7.30pm (Doors 7.20pm)
in the Friends Meeting House, Ship St, Brighton, BN1 1AF
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
(Valerie a ty´den divu)
Jaromil Jires, 1970, Czechoslovakia, 78 mins
Based on a surrealist novel by the poet Vitezslav Nezval, ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’ is among the most beautiful oddities of the Czech New Wave. Jires’ feverish, non-linear, gothic fantasy follows the plight of Valerie, who on the occasion of her entry into womanhood, finds her idyllic village transformed into a nightmarish carnival of vampires, occult ritual, and magic. Identities become fluid, family and friends are possessed, priests become predators, magical jewellery could somehow hold the key…
Ravishingly shot, enchantingly scored, Jires crystallises a sense of the mystical and captures it on celluloid - just at the moment when Soviet state communism threatened to (and eventually did) suppress an entire generation of provocative new directors.
'A work of both visceral immediacy and lingering allure, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a uniquely influential film, one of intoxicating sensation and unconscious immersion' Slant magazine
'It's overall effect is stunning' Time Out
+ Rare Svankmajer on 16mm: The Ossuary (Jan Svankmajer, 1970, CZ, 10 min, 16mm). A 'horror documentary' starring Sedlec's Monastery Ossuary, which is constructed from over 50,000 human skeletons. Svankmajer’s live action, dense collage pays homage to Czech artist Frantisek Rint’s obsessive creations (including skull pyramids, crosses, a monstrance and a chandelier containing every bone of the human body). + The Last Trick (Jan Svankmajer, CZ, 1969, 12 min, 16mm) Svankmajer’s first film, influenced by his work at the Laterna Magika Theater, depicts an absurd, deadly battle between two magicians
NEITHER GOD NOR SANTA MARIA...AND FURTHER MYSTERIES
Saturday 12th December at 4.30pm
at the Sallis Benney Theatre
Myth, hand painted abstract visions and more in a programme of acclaimed new artist cinema from festivals around the world. Plus archive classics unveiling a nocturnal realm of dream logic and poetry. And easing you into the yuletide spirit an opening sound work from BLOOD STEREO.
Neither God nor Santa Maria
(Sin Dios ni Santa María)
Samuel M. Delgado & Helena Girón, 2015, Spain, 12 mins
‘Since airplanes did not exist, people moved around using prayers; they went from one land to another and returned early, before dawn. In old audio recordings, the voices of pastors speak of the mythical existence of witches and their travels. In the daily life of a woman, the magic of her tales begins to materialize as night falls. Night is the time when travel is possible.’ Delgado & Girón
Shot on expired 16mm colour negative (developed by hand), with a soundtrack drawn from a cache of anthropological audio recordings, Delgado and Girón's eerily beautiful film traces their search for the last living witch in Yé, a small town on the island of Lanzarote.
Joseph Cornell, 1938-70, USA, 3 mins
One of America's greatest visual artists, Joseph Cornell also created a series of early influential found footage films - re-editing and splicing together B-movies and existing footage primarily to entertain his disabled brother. These jittery, otherworldly anti-narrative works bridge the gap between Dadaism and Pop Art. In 'Jack’s Dream' a sad eyed puppet dog in a fairy tale castle dreams of a sinking ship.
Sound of a Million Insects, Light of a Thousand Stars
Tomonari Nishikawa, 2014, Japan, 2 mins
On June 24, 2014 from sunset to dawn, Nishikawa buried 100 feet of 35mm film under fallen leaves alongside a country road, about 25 km away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, exposing the film to the gradual emergence of light and the potential effects of radioactivity. In an abstract swirl of marine, fluorescent green and cyan, Nishikawa utilises film’s unique ability to absorb its surrounding environment, while his gesture toward social and political processes grants it a deeply felt immediacy and potency. ‘The night was beautiful with a starry sky, and numerous summer insects were singing loud. The area was once an evacuation zone, but now people live there after the removal of the contaminated soil…’ Nishikawa
Tomonari Nishikawa's home page
Bells of Atlantis
Ian Hugo, 1952, USA, 9 mins
A sublime example of early American poetic cinema, a dream journey narrated by and featuring Anais Nin, evoking the watery depths and aqueous beauty of the lost continent of Atlantis - and ourselves…‘I remember my first birth in water’ . Featuring abstract colour effects and multiple superimpositions by Hugo and master animator Len Lye, with an incredible early score from electro pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron.
Means and Ends
Bonnie Begusch 2014, USA, 5mins
Begusch is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work examines the intertwined relationship between text, tools and perception. Drawing from histories of abstraction, concrete poetry, and structuralist film, her works foreground the act of looking, underscoring moments of perceptual ambiguity within familiar frameworks. In ‘Means and Ends’, typed marks intertwine as the camera travels along a page. In this simple movement, contours dissolve to form crooked variations of line and brief glimpses of optical illusion.
Kenneth Anger, 1953, USA, 16mm,12 mins
‘Hide and seek in a night-time labyrinth of levels, cascades, balustrades, grottoes and ever-gushing leaping fountains, until the Water Witch and the Fountain become one.’ (Anger) Shot in the famous water gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, a marvel of 16th-century engineering and baroque imagination, ‘Eaux d'Artifice’ follows the flamboyantly costumed circus performer Carmilla Salvatorelli, on a nocturnal wander. Shot through filters and hand tinted, Anger’s own personal favourite, is part trance film, part landscape study, part rapturous, sensuous abstraction.
Spectrum Analysis (2015, 4`00) + King Size Frame (2014, 2`25)
Ian Helliwell, UK
A self-taught multi-media artist living in Brighton since 1985, Helliwell has amassed a large body of work through a synthesis of analogue and digital equipment, using various hands-on techniques to realise his ideas. His approach embraces both antiquated and contemporary technology, and his many years of audio-visual experience incorporates music, film, animation, analogue electronics, instrument building, collage, installations, light show projection, live performance, writing and film programming.
He has made over 100 short experimental films screened worldwide.
‘Spectrum Analysis’ was made from fragments of found, amateur super 8 footage collected over a period of several years, and cut together. The soundtrack is a single layered reel to reel tape loop.
‘King Size Frame’ is derived from a commercial super 8 print of an episode from the Jason King TV series - cut up and bleached. The soundtrack uses sections of the original audio, plus sounds from the Hellitron tone generator and random snippets of radio (World Premiere).
Blanket Statement #2: All or Nothing
Jodie Mack, USA, 2014, 3 mins
'The phenomenal Blanket Statement #2 begins with a sound familiar to experimental film audiences: the repetitive purr of 16mm film running through a projector. Soon, images of various quilts fill the frame, with Mack’s collage establishing rapidly shifting colors and textures, a terrific multitude of formations offered by the quilting medium. Here, though, the sound isn’t as loud as the aggressive color field films of Paul Sharits, in which the double-sided 16mm sprockets violently hammer through the projector with a radical intensity. And neither can this be film noise, since the projector was hidden inside the booth. Instead, as Mack has explained, the image of quilts extends across the optical soundtrack, initiating a direct connection between image and sound. Mack’s “quilted call and response” expands the horizons of what abstract film can be by playfully referring back to something as familiar as a family quilt and ingeniously binding it directly to properties of the film medium. At only four minutes, Blanket Statement #2 is brief, bold, and essential.' Filmmaker Magazine: James Hansen
Sea of Vapors
(Meer der Dünste)
Sylvia Schedelbauer, 2014, Germany, 15:00 mins
'Sylvia Schedelbauer’s Sea of Vapors organises its own investigation into the nature of memory and recollection through a quasi-Proustian engagement with the senses. The black-and-white images indicate taste, touch, and smell and emphasize a powerful, deep connection with animals, the landscape and lunar cycle. Schedelbauer has used flicker in the past, but here it is sharper than ever. Though the flicker initially overwhelms many of the images, she seems to be using it in contradistinction to its immediate effect. While the flicker remains dynamic, it softens the transition from one image to the next so that they flow in and out of each other. At first, the images appear in sharp contrast, but, eventually, the flicker causes the shifts to occur gradually, almost imperceptibly. Impossible to pin down but thrilling to explore, it lets the viewer wander, in awe, between the familiar and the strange, between one moment, one sensation, one form and the next.' Filmmaker Magazine: James Hansen
Early Abstractions No. 10: Mirror Animations
Harry Smith, 1957, USA, 3:30 mins
Smith (1923-1991) was a musicologist, linguist, occult theorist, collector of Ukrainian Easter Eggs and creator of a series of brilliantly hallucinatory animations. In ‘Early Abstraction No. 10’, he employed cut out images for the first time, building up collages that swirled and expanded into outer space. As Smith puts it ‘The final scene shows Aquatic mushrooms growing on the moon while the Hero and Heroine row by on a cerebrum.’
‘Scottish born, Brighton based Dylan Nyoukis and Karen Constance are Blood Stereo. Deploying feral, atavistic vocalisations alongside hissing, rumbling tape-loops and electronics they establish a perfect high-concept/low art convergence, an intense and disorienting swirl which wreaths the synapses like the coiling, blackened, wordless squalls of our deep anxieties and desires oozing through bare, cracked windows, out of wardrobes and from beneath beds to flood and freeze the mind in the middle of the night.’ Café Oto
Tickets: Five Pounds on the door
PENDA'S FEN (1974)
+ EMBLA QUICKBEAM
Sunday November 15th at 7pm (Doors 6.45)
at the Sallis Benney Theatre
Part of CineCity 2015
Alan Clarke / David Rudkin UK 1974 90 mins
Introduced by writer and curator Gareth Evans
A rare 16mm screening of Alan Clarke’s remarkable 1974 BBC ‘Play for Today’ - one of the visionary masterworks of British television drama. Set against a backdrop of the Malvern Hills, the film follows Stephen Franklin, teenage son of a pastor, whose world is about to unravel through a series of mystical experiences and encounters with angels, demons, Edward Elgar and the pagan King Penda - a journey of self discovery that confronts questions of nationhood, religion and sexuality. Rudkin script is charged with a powerful sense of ‘Deep England’ and its radical potential - the landscape seems alive, knowing and always in flux.
‘An unforgettable hybrid of horror story, rites-of passage spiritual quest and vision of an alternative England that has been hailed as one of the most original and vauntingly ambitious British films of the last half century.’ The Guardian
A revised and expanded edition of ‘The Edge is Where the Centre Is’ - a beautiful small press publication exploring the film with articles by Evans, Rudkin, William Fowler and Sukhdev Sandhu - will be available on the night.
Embla Quickbeam (Rowan Forestier)
Artist Rowan Forestier opens the evening with an immersive sonic exploration using field recordings, found objects, home made sound making devices and tape manipulation. 'Brighton-based audio-investigator sends chewed postcards from the eldritch heart of England.' Daniel Spicer / The Wire.
The Edge Is Where the Centre Is
Penda's Fen: A Lasting Vision...
THE IRON MINISTRY + FILMS AND SOUNDS FROM THE SENSORY ETHNOGRAPHY LAB
Thursday 15th October at 7.30pm
at The Sallis Benney Theatre
The Iron Ministry
JP Sniadecki, 2014, USA / China, 83 mins.
'In motion, in thought, ears and eyes wide open!' (Film Comment). Somewhere in China, crammed into a train of unknown destination, men, women and children talk, kill time, eat, sleep. Snippets of overheard conversation reveal popular opinion, fleeting relationships, insights, while outside - hurtling at breakneck speed - vast panoramas and cityscapes flicker into momentary existence.
A one man crew, American filmmaker Sniadecki filmed The Iron Ministry over a period of three years while riding across China’s sprawling railway network, editing the footage into one fluid journey. An affiliate of Harvard’s ‘Sensory Ethnography Lab’, Sniadecki’s camera is rarely still and, aided by the remarkable sound design of Ernst Karel, immerses the viewer headlong into the heightened visual and sonic abstractions of the train’s material environment —the squeals of locomotion, a power cable slicing across the sky—all the while maintaining an intimate sense of its human scale.
Raw, impressionistic, chaotic and unforgettable, Sniadecki's experimental documentary uses a China in motion to craft a unique metaphor for modern society.
'Absorbing... The Iron Ministry turns the chaos of modern China into dense, frantic poetry" Indiewire
'Vivid and mysterious and full of life. NY Times / Critics Choice
+ From the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, two early films from the directors of Leviathan (2012)
The High Trail
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2010, USA, 7 mins.
In the monumental American West, we are acoustic eavesdroppers on a man petting his herding dog, while we are visual witnesses to the progress of their charges. Part of a series of short films tracking shepherds through Montana as they take their flocks on the long trek to the Beartooth Mountains.
Véréna Paravel, 2009, USA, 22 min.
Recorded during an unmapped, extended (anti) ethnographic walk beneath the elevated tracks of the #7 subway line in NYC, Paravel's first film documents spontaneous interactions along the route.
The Iron Ministry
Sensory Ethnography Lab
SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN + FILMS FROM THE FRENCH AVANT-GARDE
With live Soundtrack by Drill Folly and Miles Brown
Thursday 17th September at 7.30pm
Fabrica Gallery / Duke Street / Brighton
In collaboration with Bijou Electric Empire Forever
The Seashell and the Clergyman (La coquille et le clergyman)
Germaine Dulac, 1928, France, 31 mins. 16mm presentation
As a director and theoretician of experimental film, Dulac proclaimed her goal was to make 'pure' cinema, which she spoke of as 'films made according to the rules of visual music.' Her most experimental work 'The Seashell and Clergyman’ premiered at the Studio des Ursulines on February 9, 1928 inciting a small riot, and critical responses that ranged from the misinformed – American prints had reels spliced in the wrong order – to the rapturous – acclaimed as the first example of a Surrealist film a full year before Dali and Bunuel completed ‘Un Chien Andolou’.
Based on a script by Anton Artaud and quickly derided by what Dulac regarded as the ‘surrealist brotherhood’, Seashell stands today both as an extraordinary feminist provocation – a joyful, sustained attack on state, church and patriarchy - and as one of cinemas earliest attempts to render the workings of the unconscious. In the UK it was famously banned by the BBFC, who found 'this film is so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.'
Drill Folly is a producer working with found sound, sampling and manipulated instrumentation fused meticulously and reimagined through a maze of effects and synthesis in software.
Miles Brown is a leading thereminist and electronic artist.
Both from Melbourne, this new sonic score - performed live, is their first collaboration.
+ Early films from the French Avant-Garde
Marcel Duchamp,1926, France, 6 mins.
Duchamp’s mysterious, rotating circular discs evoke true three dimensions (without the glasses). Each is alternated with further discs inscribed letter by letter with a series of verbal puns and phrases from Rrose Sélavy (Duchamp’s feminine alter ego).
Le Retour a la Raison (Return To Reason)
Man Ray, France, 1923, 3 mins.
Ray’s photograms are brought to dazzling motion with saw blades, nails and grain printed directly onto the film strip, inter-cut with scenes of Paris, a nighttime fairground and model Kiki of Montparnasse’s light striped torso.
Fernand Léger / Dudley Murphy, 1924, France, 16 mins.
Produced and directed by French modernist painter Fernand Leger, and photographed by Dudley Murphy. A non-narrative flow of cubist form, animation and live action - every day life mechanised - set to dynamic rhythm in constant, rapidly cut movements.
Brumes D'Automne (Autumn Mists)
Dimitri Kirsanoff, France, 1929, 12 mins.
Nadia Sibirskaia (star of Kirsanoff's earlier masterpiece Ménilmontant) moves through an ethereal, at times hallucinatory autumn landscape of falling leaves and frozen mists toward a river. An astounding visual poem in which Kirsanoff attempts to capture the melancholy, nostalgia, hope and hopelessness of human inner sentiment.
SHIRLEY CLARKE SEASON
Tuesday 1st September at 7.30pm
Fabrica Gallery / Duke Street / Brighton
In collaboration with Bijou Electric Empire Forever
The Cool World
Shirley Clarke, 1964, USA, 105 mins.
Clarke's second feature is a vital landmark of American neo-realist cinema that follows Duke as he robs, brawls, and peddles dope on the streets of Harlem, while dreaming of buying a gun and leading his gang. Produced by Frederick Wiseman, it blends ragged storytelling with documentary-style location shooting, improvisation by a cast of non-professionals (recruited from Harlem's settlement houses, social clubs, and schools), and Mal Waldron's bluesy bop score, performed by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Mingus and Art Taylor. Critic Albert Johnson called it 'a tone poem of the slums'.
+ Bridges Go Round
Shirley Clarke, 1958, USA, 4 mins x 2
Clarke’s seminal experimental work from the late '50s is an incredible dance of montage and super-imposition starring New York's luminous cityscape and its various bridges. Two soundtracks were commissioned on condition both are always screened, one a plaintive jazz score from Teo Macero, the other an early abstract electronic piece from Louis and Bebe Barron - each radically altering the viewers response to the imagery.
A dynamic member of the New York independent film movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and a pioneer of video in the 1970s, Shirley Clarke (1919–97) is one of the great untold stories of North American cinema. A dancer turned activist, video artist and filmmaker, her work pushed beyond the boundaries of fiction and non-fiction and explored the space in-between, her love of jazz and improvisational rhythms matching the kinetic energy of her camerawork. Clarke’s groundbreaking films are New York time capsules that seem as radical today as when they first appeared. With fellow filmmaker Jonas Mekas, Clarke was instrumental in the formation of the New American Cinema Group, now the largest archive and distributor of independent and avant-garde films in the world.
The Shirley Clarke season continues with ‘Portrait of Jason' (September 12th at 4pm / Duke's at Komedia), ‘Ornette Coleman: Made in America’ (September 13th at 4pm / Duke's at Komedia, in association with Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival) and The Connection (Thursday September 24th at 8pm / Emporium).