London Film Festival 2004

Date: 30 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Saturday 30 – Sunday 31 October 2004
London National Film Theatre

As with last year, the Experimenta Avant-Garde Weekend will present a concentrated, international programme of artists’ film and video. It is a unique opportunity to survey some of the most original and vital works made around the world in recent years, and our only annual chance to do so on such a scale in England.

This year’s festival includes new films by old masters such as Bruce Conner, Peter Kubelka and Jonas Mekas, alongside work by younger artists including Michaela Grill, Julie Murray and Emily Richardson. There is an opportunity to discover the work of forgotten pioneer José Val del Omar, and featured artist Nathaniel Dorsky will present a lecture to introduce his exquisite silent films. All the mixed programmes plus selected features will be shown over the two-day period, and several of the filmmakers will be present to discuss their work.

Outside of the weekend, the festival also features screenings of Jennifer Reeves’ feature The Time We Killed, Gianikian & Ricci Lucchi’s Oh, Uomo, both versions of Straub / Huillet’s Une Visite au Louvre and a newly preserved print of Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason.

Video Visions

Date: 30 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Saturday 30 October 2004, at 2pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

fordbrothers, Preserving Cultural Traditions in a Period of Instability, Austria, 2004, 3 min
fordbrothers explode the visual field as a strangely familiar, but unidentified, voice rails against computer technology and modern society.

Fred Worden, Amongst the Persuaded, USA, 2004, 23 min
The digital revolution is coming, and an old-school film-maker is trying to come to terms with it. ‘The human susceptibility to self-delusion has, at least, this defining characteristic: Easy to spot in others, hard to see in oneself.’ (Fred Worden)

Didi Bruckmayr & Michael Strohmann, Ich Bin Traurig, Austria, 2004, 5 min
An aria for 3D modelling, transformed and decomposed using the cultural filters of opera and heavy metal.

Robin Dupuis, Anoxi, Canada, 2003, 4 min
Effervescent digital animation of vapours and particles.

Michaela Grill, Kilvo, Austria, 2004, 6 min
Minimal is maximal. A synaesthestic composition in black, white and grey.

Myriam Bessette, Nuée, Canada, 2003, 3 min
Bleached out bliss of dripping colour fields.

Jan van Nuenen, Set-4, Netherlands, 2003, 4 min
Endless late night cable television sports programmes, remixed into deep space: from inanity to infinity.

Robert Cauble, Alice in Wonderland Or Who Is Guy Debord?, USA, 2003, 23 min
Alice longs for a more exciting life away from Victorian England, but is she ready for the Society of the Spectacle? Conventional animation is subverted to tell the strange tale of Alice and the Situationists.


Travel Songs

Date: 30 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Saturday 30 October 2004, at 4pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Robert Breer, What Goes Up, USA, 2003, 5 min
A volley of rapid visual associations from the mind of Robert Breer, animating collage, drawings and snapshots in a playful, but rigorous manner. What goes up must come down.

Jonas Mekas, Travel Songs 1967-1981, USA, 2003, 24 min
In short bursts and single frames, memories of European journeys rush by like landscapes through train windows. This ebullient album of previously unseen footage contains songs of Assisi, Avila, Moscow, Stockholm and Italy.

Frank Biesendorfer, Little B & MBT, USA-Germany, 2003, 30 min
An intimate journal featuring the film-maker’s family in their daily life, contrasted with audio recorded at one of Hermann Nitsch’s actions in his Austrian castle. Despite their diverse sources, the sound and image weave a tangled spell around each other.

Robert Fenz, Meditations on Revolution V: Foreign City, USA, 2003, 32 min
The Meditations series comes home for a journey through New York, viewed as a place of immigration and displacement. The urban environment, shot mostly at night in ecstatic black-and-white, becomes an almost exotic locale. Fenz’s incandescent cinematography reveals images of great beauty and compassion on the sidewalks and subway, as the film subtly shifts from anonymous street scenes into a sensitive portrait of jazz legend Marion Brown, who reminisces on his life and career as he convalesces in hospital.


Public Lighting

Date: 30 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Saturday 30 October 2004, at 7pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Mike Hoolboom, Public Lighting, Canada, 2004, 76 min
Public Lighting is a meditation on photography and the creation of images that can capture, replace and outlive our experiences. It’s a videofilm in seven parts, related in both subject and sentiment to the wonderful Imitations of Life, which screened in last year’s festival. Each chapter is a case study of the different types of personality that have been identified by the young author who guides us through the prologue. The first, a gay male, takes us on a tour of the bars and restaurants where his affairs have ended, recounting ironic stories of his many lovers. An homage to composer Philip Glass is incongruously followed by ‘Hey Madonna’, a confessional letter to the singer from a fan who is HIV positive. Amy celebrates another birthday, but concedes that she has lost her memory to television. At least she has a camera: ‘I take pictures not to help me remember, but to record my forgetting.’ Hiro lives life at a distance, rarely venturing out beyond the lens, and an anxious young model recounts poignant events from her past. Few film-makers use re-appropriated footage in such an emotive way: At once humorous and incisive, these chains of images inevitably lead us back to parts of ourselves. Hoolboom’s recent work is in such profound sympathy with the human condition that it speaks directly to our hearts.


Poetry and Truth

Date: 30 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Saturday 30 October 2004, at 9pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Larry Jordan, Enid’s Idyll, USA, 2004, 17 min
An animated imagining of Arthurian romance based on Gustav Doré’s engraved illustrations for Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the Kings’, accompanied by the music of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection Symphony’.

Julie Murray, I Began To Wish, USA, 2003, 5 min
Mysterious events unfold in a potting shed … A jewel of found footage, mysterious and profound beyond its imagery, and with an almost deafening aural presence, despite its lack of soundtrack.

Rebecca Meyers, Things We Want To See, USA, 2004, 7 min
An introspective work that obliquely measures the fragility of life against boundless forces of nature, such as Alaskan ice floes, the Aurora Borealis and magnetic storms.

Peter Kubelka, Dichtung Und Wahrheit, Austria, 2003, 13 min
In cinema, as in anthropological study, the ready-made can reveal some of the fundamental ‘poetry and truth’ of our lives. Kubelka has unearthed sequences of discarded takes from advertising and presents them, almost untouched, as documents that unwittingly offer valuable and humorous insights into the human condition.

Morgan Fisher, ( ), USA, 2003, 21 min
‘I wanted to make a film out of nothing but inserts, or shots that were close enough to being inserts, as a way of making them visible, to release them from their self-effacing performance of drudge-work, to free them from their servitude to story.’ (Morgan Fisher)

Ichiro Sueoka, T:O:U:C:H:O:F:E:V:I:L, Japan, 2003, 5 min
Like Fisher’s film, Sueoka’s video also uses cutaways, but this time the shots are from 60s spy dramas, and retain their soundtracks. Stroboscopically cut together, it becomes a strange brew, like mixing The Man from U.N.C.L.E with Paul Sharits’ T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G.

Bruce Conner, Luke, USA, 2004, 22 min
In 1967 Bruce Conner visited Dennis Hopper, Paul Newman and others on the set of Cool Hand Luke and shot a rarely seen roll of silent 8mm film of the production. Almost forty years later, he has returned to this footage and presents it at three frames per second, creating an almost elegiac record of that time. Patrick Gleeson, Conner’s collaborator on several previous films, has prepared an original soundtrack for this new work.


Los Angeles Plays Itself

Date: 31 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Sunday 31 October 2004, at 12pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself, USA, 2003, 169 min
A remarkable documentary about cinema, an endlessly fascinating visual lecture and an important social commentary, Thom Andersen’s love letter to Los Angeles explores the city’s representation on film. With its relentless, mesmerising montage of clips and archive footage, the film explores how the Western centre of the film industry is actually portrayed on-screen. Divided into chapters that treat Los Angeles as – amongst other things – background, character and subject, the film revisits crucial landmarks (the steps up which Laurel & Hardy attempted to manoeuvre a piano in The Music Box, explores famous buildings (the Spanish Revival house in Double Indemnity, the cavernous Bradbury Building made famous by Blade Runner), and charts the city’s ‘secret’ history through such films as Chinatown, L.A. Confidential and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. As comfortable with softcore exploitation as it is with the avant-garde, Los Angeles Plays Itself is a cinematic treasure trove that makes one think again about a city that – as a movie location – has never seemed quite as romantic or exciting as New York. Indeed, the world around you may seem more mysterious and compelling after almost three hours well spent in Andersen’s company. And you’ll definitely never refer to Los Angeles as ‘L.A.’ again. (David Cox)

Also Screening: Thursday 28 October 2004, at 8:15pm London NFT1


Nathaniel Dorsky: Devotional Cinema

Date: 31 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Sunday 31 October 2004, at 4pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3


As an antidote to the frenetic pace and complexity of modern life, Nathaniel Dorsky’s films invite an audience to connect at a precious level of intimacy, nourishing both mind and spirit. His camera is drawn towards those transient moments of wonder that often pass unnoticed in daily life: jewelled refractions of sunlight on water, dappled shadows cast along the ground.

The films are photographed, non-narrative and have none of the visual trickery we might associate with the avant-garde. Dorsky’s work achieves a sensitive balance between humanity, nature and the ethereal, weaving together lyrical statements in a rhythmic cadence that creates space for private reflection. The world floods through the lens, onto the screen and into our minds.

In this lecture-screening of Variations (which provided the inspiration for the ‘most beautiful image’ sequence of American Beauty) and his new film Threnody, Dorsky discusses the qualities of cinema that attracted him to use the medium in such a poetic way, and will read from his recently published book ‘Devotional Cinema’. This is his first public appearance in the UK.

Nathaniel Dorsky, Variations, USA, 1992-98, 24 min
Nathaniel Dorsky, Threnody, USA, 2004, 20 min


Throw Your Watch to the Water

Date: 31 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Sunday 31 October 2004, at 7pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Eugeni Bonet, Tira Tu Reloj al Agua (Throw Your Watch to the Water), Spain, 2004, 91 min
José Val del Omar (1904-82), one of the pioneers of European avant-garde film, remains virtually unknown outside of Spain. His visionary Triptico Elemental de España (1953-61) embodies the soul, landscape and diverse cultural mix of his Andalucian homeland, connecting life on our planet with the elementary forces of the universe. Using material shot by the film-maker between 1968-82, Eugeni Bonet has assembled Throw Your Watch to the Water, whose images, ranging from documentary to complete abstraction, mark the passage from the earthly world to a transcendental plane. The film opens in the Alhambra, detailing the intricate Moorish architecture, pulsing fountains and activities of the local people. The ancient citadel, at first serene and regal, is overrun by the transparent bodies of tourists, whilst the ‘videoterrorifico mirror’ of television reflects the frenzy of modern media. Val del Omar envisaged a ‘cinematic vibration’ that would be the vertex of his life’s work, and this film, in which images and thoughts flow free of time, is a meta-mystical allegory that seeks a unity between the spiritual realm, the ancient world and contemporary life.

Also Screening: Saturday 30 October 2004, at 8:30pm, London ICA2


Drift Studies

Date: 31 October 2004 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

Sunday 31 October 2004, at 9pm
London National Film Theatre NFT3

Nicky Hamlyn, Water, Water, UK, 2004, 11 min
Reflections and refractions of light, alternated in hard, optical flicker and gliding dissolves.

Emily Richardson, Aspect, UK, 2004, 9 min
A time-lapse chronicle of the modulation of natural light, from high above the canopy of trees to the filtered rays on the forest floor.

Peter Hutton, Skagasfjördur, USA, 2004, 35 min
Photographic study of the mists, clouds and extraordinary landscapes of the mysterious land of the sagas. Peter Hutton has fixed his camera on the awesome panoramas of Iceland and created a monumental film, which records the subtle luminosity of the region and its dramatic atmospheric conditions.

Yuiko Matsuyama, Flower, Japan, 2004, 6 min
The meandering flow of china ink, suspended in water, opens up a microcosmic world of Brownian motion.

Bart Vegter, Zwerk, Netherlands, 2004, 8 min
An abstract, computer-generated work produced by using mathematical formulae to create complex interference patterns in colour tinted layers.

Jürgen Reble, Arktis – Zwischen Licht und Dunkel, Germany, 2003, 32 min
This new video is a surprising departure for Reble, who is best known for his alchemical treatment of celluloid. Digitally processed, it transforms shots of the arctic landscape, drawn from education films and travelogues, into a virtual fantasy world illuminated by the hallucinatory half-light of evening.


London Film Festival Experimenta Tour 2005

Date: 1 June 2005 | Season: London Film Festival 2004 | Tags:

June–September 2005
UK touring programme

EXPERIMENTA brings a selection of artists’ films and videos from the 2004 London Film Festival direct to your hometown. The touring programme presents two features which each take unique and original approaches to the documentary genre and two programmes of short film and video works. Two additional screenings offer key works from previous years.

Los Angeles Plays Itself is Thom Andersen’s extraordinary essay on the way that the city of Los Angeles, and particularly its architecture, has been represented in the movies. It’s a long film, but it’s a big city. Jessica Yu’s In the Realms of the Unreal tells the bizarre story of outsider artist Henry Darger, who worked in isolation on a 15,000 page fantasy in which seven young girls battle to save children from the evil Glandelinians. Darger’s incredible, and unsettling, illustrations are brought to life by animation as the film explores the mysterious individual that created them.

The video programme features works that manipulate found or archival footage, together with those in which the images have been entirely created by digital means. At the edge of technology, fordbrothers exploit the digital artefacts that occur during file compression. Nuée and Kilvo also explore the transformative qualities of computer processing but retain organic textures. T:O:U:C:H:O:F:E:V:I:L and SET-4 employ material from kitsch 60s thrillers and endless late night sports tv, whilst Luke is a hypnotic treatment material shot by Bruce Conner on the set of Cool Hand Luke in 1967. Finally, Alice in Wonderland or Who is Guy Debord? presents the Disney favourite as you have never heard it before: entertaining, amusing and utterly subversive.

In the film programme, magnificent new works by old masters Robert Breer and Peter Kubelka are shown alongside younger and less well-known artists, including Emily Richardson’s time-lapse film of natural light, Yuiko Matsumaya’s abstract meditation of liquid particles and Julie Murray’s disturbing use of found footage. The final instalment of Robert Fenz’s Meditations on Revolution is an iridescent document of night time New York streets, mixed with a biographical portrait of jazz musician Marion Brown. Nathaniel Dorsky was a featured guest at the LFF in 2004, presenting an inspiring lecture on “Devotional Cinema” (the title of his recent book). His exquisite silent films, of which Threnody is the most recent, are profound observations of the wonder of everyday life.

The spirit of Stan Brakhage is present in two of the works in this collection: on the soundtrack of Preserving Cultural Traditions he expresses his misgivings about computers, and Dorsky’s Threnody, is dedicated to his recently departed friend. To acknowledge the unparalleled work of this important artist, who died in 2003, the London Film Festival is proud to present a memorial programme of key works made in the last years of his life, including The God of Day Had Gone Down Upon Him.

A second retrospective programme features a 2002 video by the painter Alfred Leslie, whose first film Pull My Daisy (made in collaboration with Robert Frank) is one of the essential works of early personal cinema. The Cedar Bar juxtaposes enlightening found footage with a reading of Leslie’s 1952 play, which depicts real and imaginary events at the legendary tavern where the Abstract Expressionists slugged drinks and each other.

The London Film Festival is a showcase that presents the most exciting and innovative cinema in the world, where you can expect to see avant-garde film and innovative new media showing alongside the latest art house features and Hollywood blockbusters. As one of the main strands of the festival, Experimenta gathers together works shown at international film festivals, museum and galleries, together with new discoveries and world premieres by established and emerging artists, film and video makers.

Experimenta is an international programme that celebrates and promotes artists’ moving image works in film and video. It’s a place in the festival for personal expression, featuring work that is created away from or in spite of the commercial system. Experimenta encompasses experimental, documentary, narrative, animated and abstract work, but when cinema is truly expressive and elevated, such awkward categories become meaningless and language inadequate.

Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself, USA, 2003, video, 169 min

Jessica Yu, In the Realms of the Unreal, USA, 2004, 35mm, 81 min

fordbrothers, Preserving Cultural Traditions In A Period Of Instability, Austria, 2004, video, 3 min
Michaela Grill, Kilvo, Austria, 2004, video, 6 min
Bruce Conner, Luke, USA, 2004, video, 22 min
Myriam Bessette, Nuée, Canada, 2003, video, 3 min
Ichiro Sueoka, T:O:U:C:H:O:F:E:V:I:L, Japan, 2003, video, 5 min
Jan van Neunen, Set-4, Netherlands, 2003, video, 4 min
Robert Cauble, Alice in Wonderland or Who is Guy Debord?, USA, 2003, video, 23 min

Nathaniel Dorsky, Threnody, USA, 2004, 16mm (18fps), 20 min
Emily Richardson, Aspect, UK, 2004, 16mm and cd, 9 min
Yuiko Matsuyama, Hana (Flower), Japan, 2004, 16mm, 5 min
Julie Murray, I Began to Wish, USA, 2003, 16mm, 5 min
Robert Breer, What Goes Up, USA, 2003, 16mm, 5 min
Robert Fenz, Meditations on Revolution V: Foreign City, USA, 2003, 16mm, 32 min
Peter Kubelka, Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth), Austria, 2003, 16mm, 13 min

Alfred Leslie, The Cedar Bar, USA, 2002, video, 84 min

Stan Brakhage, Water for Maya, USA, 2000, 16mm, 5 min
Stan Brakhage, The God of Day Had Gone Down Upon Him, USA, 2000, 16mm, 55 min
Stan Brakhage, Persian Series #9, USA, 2000, 16mm, 20 min

Selections from these programmes screened at Bristol Arnolfini, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Glasgow Film Theatre, Leeds Film Quarter, Liverpool FACT, London Greenwich Picturehouse, London ICA, Manchester Cornerhouse, Newcastle Side Cinema, Nottingham Broadway and Sheffield Showroom.