London Film Festival 2008

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 October 2008
London BFI Southbank

The festival’s annual celebration of artists’ film and video will take place on the weekend of 25-26 October 2008.

Over two days, a diverse selection of international work will be presented at in eight screenings that aim to challenge, entertain and enlighten viewers. Continuous installations by artists Thomas Köner and Neil Beloufa will be presented for one day each in the BFI Southbank Studio.

This year’s programme includes a number of solo screenings in which the work of several filmmakers can be explored in depth. Nathaniel Dorsky returns to London to present his transcendent personal cinema, which has been a regular highlight in recent years. Documentaries on contemporary Russian life by Alina Rudnitskaya are featured, as are newly preserved 35mm prints of two films by the radical French theorist Guy Debord. Michel Auder’s extended fictional biography looks back over a life in the New York art world through footage from his vast archive of videotapes.

New approaches to ethnography and documentary recur throughout the weekend and are explored in the work of British filmmaker Ben Rivers. In the mixed programmes, the presence of both emerging and established filmmakers open a window onto a wide range of creativity. Featured artists include Pat O’Neill, Jayne Parker, Phil Solomon, Lawrence Jordan, Nicky Hamlyn, Alexandra Cuesta, David Gatten, Sylvia Schedelbauer and Bruce Conner.

Elsewhere in the festival, look out for new films by Straub/Huillet and Agnes Varda, Momma’s Man by Azazel Jacobs (starring and shot in the loft of his parents Ken and Flo Jacobs), James Benning’s captivating RR, and preservations of The Exiles, Manhatta and NY, NY.

Pneuma Monoxyd

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 October 2008, from 12-7pm
London BFI Southbank Studio

Thomas Köner, Pneuma Monoxyd, Germany-Serbia, 2007, 10 min (continuous loop)

Merging surveillance images of a German shopping street and a Balkan marketplace, Köner’s darkly abstract work, with its spatially evocative soundtrack, generates a muted sense of spectral dystopia.


A Sense of Place

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 October 2008, at 2pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Nicky Hamlyn, Four Toronto Films, UK, 2007, 18 min
During a residency in the Canadian city, Hamlyn made this suite of films that explore a direct relationship between subject matter and camera apparatus. Three scrutinise aspects of the urban locale, the other an accelerated view of Koshlong Lake.

Robert Todd, 21 Alleys, USA, 2007, 9 min
A residential street, seen through the passageways that separate its dwellings, is the focus of this understated study of gentrification in a Boston neighbourhood.

Phil Solomon, Last Days in a Lonely Place, USA, 2007, 22 min
Solomon has created a sombre elegy for a departed friend from fragments of movie soundtracks and anomalous images liberated from Grand Theft Auto. A soul drifts through unpopulated (virtual) spaces and we see absence.

Rebecca Baron & Douglas Goodwin, Lossless #2, USA, 2008, 3 min
Witness the dematerialization of an avant-garde standard as incomplete digital files, downloaded from file sharing networks, induce trouble in the image.

Jayne Parker, Trilogy: Kettle’s Yard, UK, 2008, 25 min
Linear Construction, Woman with Arms Crossed and Arc refer back to a quartet of films made with musician Anton Lukoszevieze almost a decade ago. This new anthology for solo cello was shot at Kettles Yard and incorporates items from the museum’s collection which open up metaphorical space and meaning.

Lawrence Jordan, The Miracle of Don Cristobal, USA, 2008, 12 min
An alchemical melodrama composed of engravings from 19th century adventure stories. The illustrations are conjured into motion as improbable sounds collide with a Puccini aria.


Guy Debord

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 October 2008, at 4pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

‘The cinema, too, has to be destroyed.’ (Guy Debord)

An extremely rare opportunity to see new 35mm prints of films by French writer and theorist Guy Debord, best known for The Society of the Spectacle. Debord was a central figure of the Situationist International (SI), a nihilistic band of agitators whose harsh critiques of capitalist society, inspired by Marxism and Dada, were conveyed through publications, visual art and collective actions. Articulated primarily in the French language, Situationism was relatively ineffective in Britain and America in its time, and though numerous translations are now available, Debord’s radical films remain unseen. Far ahead of its time, his technique of ‘détournement’ assimilates still and moving image-scraps from features, newsreels, printed matter, advertisements and other detritus to satisfy the viewer’s ‘pathetic need’ for cinematic illusion. Propelled by a spoken, monotonous discourse, the images do not so much illustrate the text as underpin it, often maintaining a metaphorical relationship that may not at first be apparent. The two films showing here effectively bookend Debord’s involvement with the Situationists, whose politically subversive practice aspired to provoke a revolution of everyday life.

Guy Debord, Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps, France, 1959, 18 min
In the dingy bars of St-Germain-des-Prés, Debord and his associates formed a bohemian underground for whom ‘oblivion was their ruling passion.’ This anti-documentary captures the SI close to its moment of inception, following their separation from the Lettristes two years prior.

Guy Debord, In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, France, 1978, 105 min
‘I will make no concessions to the public in this film. I believe there are several good reasons for this decision, and I am going to state them.’ And state them he does. Debord’s final film is a denunciation of cinema and society at large, an unremitting diatribe against consumption. The SI is equated to a military operation (charge of the light brigade, no less) as its members are presented alongside images of the D-Day landings, Andreas Baader, Zorro, a comic strip Prince Valliant and quotes from Shakespeare, Ecclesiastes and Omar Khayyám. Debord takes no prisoners in this testament to his anarchistic vision.

Screening in the presence of Alice Debord.


Alina Rudnitskaya

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 October 2008, at 7pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Alina Rudnitskaya’s humanistic approach to documentary filmmaking often brings out the humour in her chosen subjects. As an introduction to her work, this programme depicts three diverse groups of contemporary Russian women.

Alina Rudnitskaya, Amazons, Russia, 2003, 20 min
A sensitive portrait of an unusual urban phenomenon: a troupe of independent and strong-minded girls who keep horses in the heart of St Petersburg. Amazons follows a new volunteer as she tries to find her place within the group dynamic.

Alina Rudnitskaya, Besame Mucho, Russia, 2006, 27 min
With music providing an escape from their duties as veterinarians, nurses and cleaners, the amateur chorus of a provincial town rehearse songs from Verdi’s ‘Aida’. Close bonds are formed, but in true diva style, relationships within the choir are frequently inharmonious.

Alina Rudnitskaya, Bitch Academy, Russia, 2008, 29 min
An improbable symbol of modern Russia is displayed in this tragicomic verité on the aspirations of young women. In a progressive twist on assertiveness training, a middle-aged, paunchy Casanova (who surely loves his job) gives classes on how to seduce the male using role play, styling critiques and sexy dancing. The ultimate goal is to hitch a millionaire, and though there’s much humour in the situation, occasional tears and telling looks remind us that the insecurities of real lives are being laid bare.


When Latitudes Become Form

Date: 25 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Saturday 25 October 2008, at 9pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Francisca Duran, In the Kingdom of Shadows, Canada, 2006, 6 min
Set in metal type, a passage from Maxim Gorky’s review of the Lumières melts into a pool of molten lead.

David Gatten, How to Conduct a Love Affair, USA, 2007, 8 min
‘An unexpected letter leads to an unanticipated encounter and an extravagant gift. Some windows open easily; other shadows remain locked rooms.’ (David Gatten)

Charlotte Pryce, The Parable of the Tulip Painter and the Fly, USA, 2008, 4 min
A saturated cine-miniature inspired by Dutch 17th Century painting.

Sami van Ingen, Deep Six, Finland, 2007, 7 min
The film image of a loaded truck, careening free of its position in the frame, speeds along a mountain road towards an inevitable fate.

Bart Vegter, De Tijd, Netherlands, 2008, 9 min
Computer animated abstraction in three dimensions. Slowly evolving geometric forms suggest sculptural figures and waning shadows.

Pat O’Neill, Horizontal Boundaries, USA, 2008, 23 min
O’Neill’s dizzying deployment of the 35mm frame-line is intensified by Carl Stone’s electronic score. A hard and rhythmic work, thick with superimposition, contrary motion and volatile contrasts, reminiscent of his pioneering abstract work of prior decades.

Bruce Conner, Easter Morning, USA, 2008, 10 min
Conner’s freewheeling camera chases morning light in a hypnotic blur of colour and multiple exposures. This final work by the artist and filmmaker rejuvinates his rarely seen 8mm film Easter Morning Raga (1966). With music by Terry Riley.



Date: 26 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Sunday 26 October 2008, 12-7pm
London BFI Southbank Studio

Neil Beloufa, Kempinski, Mali-France, 2007, 14 min (continuous loop)

Whilst challenging our stereotypical view of Africa, Kempinksi also blurs the lines between documentary, ethnography and science fiction. Asked to imagine the future but to speak in the present tense, the protagonists describe extraordinary and unexpected visions.


Nathaniel Dorsky

Date: 26 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Sunday 26 October 2008, at 2pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

In his search for a ‘polyvalent’ mode of filmmaking, Nathaniel Dorsky has developed a filmic language which is intrinsic and unique to the medium, and expressive of human emotion. Seeking wonder not only in nature but in the everyday interaction between people in the metropolitan environment, Dorsky observes the world around him. Free of narrative or theme, his films transcend daily reality and open a space for introspective thought. ‘Delicately shifting the weight and solidity of the images’, a deeper sense of being is manifest in the interplay between film grain and natural light. Dorsky returns to London to introduce two brand new films and Triste, the work that first intimated his sublime and distinctive ‘devotional cinema’. These lyric films are humble offerings which unassumingly blossom on the screen, illuminating a path for vision.

Nathaniel Dorsky, Winter, USA, 2007, 19 min
‘San Francisco’s winter is a season unto itself. Fleeting, rain-soaked, verdant, a brief period of shadows and renewal.’ (Nathaniel Dorsky)

Nathaniel Dorsky, Sarabande, USA, 2008, 15 min
‘Dark and stately is the warm, graceful tenderness of the sarabande.’ (Nathaniel Dorsky)

Nathaniel Dorsky, Triste, USA, 1978-96, 19 min
‘The ‘sadness’ referred to in the title is more the struggle of the film itself to become a film as such, rather than some pervasive mood.’ (Nathaniel Dorsky)


The Feature

Date: 26 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Sunday 26 October 2008, at 3:45pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Michel Auder & Andrew Neel, The Feature, USA, 2008, 177 min
In Michel Auder’s case, the truth is certainly stranger than fiction. One of the first to compulsively exploit the diaristic potential of the Sony Portapak, he was right there at the heart of the Warhol Factory and the Soho art explosion. This fictionalised biography draws on his vast archive of videotapes, connecting them by means of a distanced narration and new footage, shot by co-director Andrew Neel, in which Auder portrays his doppelganger, an arrogantly successful artist who may or may not have a life-threatening condition. Resisting nostalgia through wilful ambiguity, The Feature remains raw and brutally honest as Auder displays the best and worst of himself. Taking in his marriages to both Viva and Cindy Sherman, and affiliations with Larry Rivers, the Zanzibar group and the downtown art scene, this is necessarily a tale of epic proportions, chronicling an amazing journey through art and life whilst providing access to a wealth of fascinating personal footage.

Also Screening: Tuesday 29 October 2008, at 7pm, BFI Southbank Studio


The Word for World is Forest

Date: 26 October 2008 | Season: London Film Festival 2008 | Tags:

Sunday 26 October 2008, at 7pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Julia Hechtman, Small Miracles, USA, 2006, 5 min
Sci-fi hallucinations seem commonplace as Hechtman invokes mysterious natural phenomena: an extreme case of mind over matter.

Neil Beloufa, Kempinski, Mali-France, 2007, 14 min
Speaking in the present tense, interviewees describe their idiosyncratic notions of the future. To the western viewer, the unlikely subjects, stylized settings and atmospheric lighting impart a strange disconnect between science fiction and anthropology.

Brigid McCaffrey & Ben Russell, Tj Tjúba Tén (The Wet Season), USA-Suriname, 2008, 47 min
‘An experimental ethnography composed of community-generated performances, re-enactments and extemporaneous recordings, this film functions doubly as an examination of a rapidly changing material culture in the present and as a historical document for the future. Whether the record is directed towards its subjects, its temporary residents (filmmakers), or its Western viewers is a question proposed via the combination of long takes, materialist approaches, selective subtitling, and a focus on various forms of cultural labour.’ (Ben Russell)

Sylvia Schedelbauer, Remote Intimacy, Germany, 2008, 15 min
Cast adrift in the collective unconscious, Remote Intimacy constructs an allegorical collage from found footage and biographical fragments, exploring cultural dislocation using the rhetoric of dreams.