London Film Festival 2011

Date: 21 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

21—24 October 2011

London BFI Southbank

The Experimenta Weekend is the London Film Festival’s annual survey of artist’s film and video. Over four days, from 21-24 October 2011, a unique sequence of programmes will offer a curated selection of outstanding work made around the world.

Phil Solomon, renowned for his exquisite 16mm films, will make his first appearance in the UK to introduce the epic American Falls. In a triptych of images, waves of chemically treated celluloid reflect the aspirations and tragedies of the American dream.

Two festival regulars return with debut features: Lewis Klahr’s elliptical narrative The Pettifogger further develops his distinctive cut-out animation techniques; Ben Rivers’ Two Years at Sea mixes fact and fantasy in an extended study of a marginal outsider. Observational filmmaker Robert Fenz and Portuguese artist Gabriel Abrantes are featured in solo screenings.

Contemporary moving image owes much to the pioneering generation of avant-garde filmmakers that appear in Pip Chodorov’s documentary Free Radicals. Jonas Mekas, a central figure in that movement’s history, will present two new works of his own: Sleepless Night Stories and Correspondence (in collaboration with José Luis Guerin). The visionary films of West Coast pioneer Chick Strand, which combine experimental, collage and ethnographic styles, can be rediscovered in newly preserved prints.

The Experimenta Weekend is curated by Mark Webber, with assistance from Adam Pugh and Marina Ribera.

Free Radicals

Date: 21 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Friday 21 October 2011, at 6:30pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Pip Chodorov, Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Cinema, France, 2010, 82 min
Free Radicals scratches the surface of the history of avant-garde cinema in Europe and the USA, from early post-war pioneers through to the founding of New York’s Anthology Film Archives, a museum whose screen is the exhibition space. Director Pip Chodorov is well-placed to chronicle the movement – he established the Re:Voir label to distribute tapes and DVDs of artists’ films, and counts many key exponents amongst his friends. In this personal journey through experimental movies, he surveys a generation of artists who pushed the boundaries of the medium. Working without compromise, and without financial rewards, they were forced to create their own support structures in an expression of solidarity. Whilst not claiming to be a definitive documentary, Free Radicals is a discerning introduction to the field, and its informal nature provides a privileged glimpse at the personalities involved. Archival footage of Hans Richter, Nam June Paik and Stan Vanderbeek (drawn from TV programmes made by the filmmaker’s father) supplements new interviews with Chodorov’s distinguished acquaintances (Jonas Mekas, Peter Kubelka, Ken Jacobs, Robert Breer) and generous excerpts from the films themselves. (Mark Webber)

Also Screening: Monday 24 October 2011, at 4:15pm, NFT3
& Monday 24 October 2011, at 7pm, BFI Studio


Two Years at Sea

Date: 21 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Friday 21 October 2011, at 9pm
London BFI Southbank NFT1

Ben Rivers, Two Years at Sea, UK, 2011, 88 min
Using old 16mm cameras, artist Ben Rivers, who has been nominated for the Jarman Prize and has won a Tiger Award at Rotterdam, creates work from stories of real people, often those who have disconnected from the normal world and taken themselves into wilderness territories. His new long-form work extends his relationship with Jake, a man first encountered in his short film This Is My Land. The title refers to the work Jake did in order to finance his chosen state of existence. He lives alone in a ramshackle house, in the middle of the forest. It’s full of curiosities from a bygone age, including a beloved old gramophone. We see his daily life across the seasons, as he occupies himself going for walks in all weathers, and taking naps in the misty fields and woods. Endlessly resourceful, he builds a raft to fish in a loch. Jake has a tremendous sense of purpose, however eccentric his behaviour seems to us. The presence of the camera is irrelevant to him; he has no desire for human contact, and is completely at home in his environment, the nature around him and his constructed abode. Rivers’ gracefully-constructed film creates an intimate connection with an individual who would otherwise be a complete outsider to us. (Helen de Witt)

Also Screening: Monday 24 October 2011, at 1:30pm, NFT1


Altered States

Date: 22 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Saturday 22 October 2011, at 2pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Ben Russell, Trypps #7 (Badlands), USA, 2010, 10 min
The mirror crack’d: As a young woman, high on LSD, looks toward the camera, the doors of perception swing open for both viewer and subject.

Mary Helena Clark, While You Were Sleeping, USA, 2010, 9 min
‘This is your life. It rides like a dream.’ (MHC)

Neil Beloufa, Sans Titre, France, 2010, 15 min
In a reconstruction of a villa occupied by terrorists during the Algerian War, onlookers speculate on the activities that took place.

Emily Wardill, The Pips, UK, 2011, 4 min
A gymnast performs, and everything begins to fall away …

Deborah Stratman, … These Blazeing Starrs!. USA, 2011, 14 min
Watch the skies! Throughout history, comets have heralded events of grave significance and change; today it is thought that they can reveal facts about the formation of the universe.

Michael Robinson, These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us, USA, 2010, 13 min
‘Tired of underworld and overworld alike, Isis escorts her favourite son on their final curtain call down the Nile, leaving a neon wake of shattered tombs and sparkling sarcophagi.’ (MR)

Also Screening: Thursday 27 October 2011, at 3:45pm, NFT3


Nathaniel Dorsky / Ben Rivers

Date: 22 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Saturday 22 October 2011, at 4pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Nathaniel Dorsky, Pastourelle, USA, 2010, 17 min
‘A pastourelle and an aubade are two different forms of courtship songs from the troubadour tradition. In this case, the film Pastourelle, a sister film to Aubade, is in the more tumultuous key of spring.’ (ND)

Nathaniel Dorsky, The Return, USA, 2011, 27 min
‘Like a memory already gone, this place of life.’ Dorsky has created a poetic form of cinema in which the screen becomes a site for reverie or transfiguration. In his most recent film, he seems to move towards a more abstract representation of light and being.

Ben Rivers, Sack Barrow, UK, 2011, 21 min
The march of time claims another casualty. Sack Barrow documents (and laments) the out-dated, but functioning, technology of a family owned electroplating factory in the weeks around its closure – its old ways now unsustainable in the modern world.

Also Screening: Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 8:45pm, NFT2


Gabriel Abrantes

Date: 22 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Saturday 22 October 2011, at 7pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Gabriel Abrantes & Benjamin Crotty, Liberdade, Portugal-Angola, 2011, 16 min
Liberdade sketches episodes in the relationship between a domineering Chinese immigrant and her Angolan boyfriend with lavishly cinematic panache. Travelling through spectacular locations in and around Luanda, they navigate the complications of their burgeoning identities and the different cultures they represent.

Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, Palácios de Pena (Palaces of Pity), Portugal, 2011, 56 min
Gabriel Abrantes and his collaborators use the tropes of mainstream cinema to make works that are by turns comical, thought-provoking and transgressive. In a parable on guilt and oppression, which alludes to aspects of Portuguese colonial history, two cousins are potential heirs to their grandmother’s fortune. A new generation may be oblivious to the past, but inherits it nonetheless.

Gabriel Abrantes & Katie Widloski, Olympia I & II, Portugal-USA, 2008, 7 min
Mimicking the composition of Manet’s notorious painting, the artists play out two possible scenarios: between a prostitute and her gay brother, and between a wealthy transsexual and his devoted maid.

Also Screening: Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 1:15pm, NFT2


Sleepless Nights Stories

Date: 22 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Saturday 22 October 2011, at 9pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Jonas Mekas, Sleepless Nights Stories, USA, 2011, 114 min
Jonas Mekas’ opening confession that he suffers from insomnia will come as no surprise to anyone aware of his singular contribution to cinema. Over 50 years he has established and promoted a viable culture for truly independent and avant-garde filmmaking, and his recent acceptance by the art world has brought a long overdue wave of attention and success. Sleepless Nights Stories is the latest in the series of long-form diary films that Mekas has been making since his arrival in the USA in 1949. Eating, drinking, singing and dancing with friends, the tireless octogenarian is full of life and wonder, casually weaving together contemporary folk tales collected during travels across the globe. Marina Abramovic fantasizes about domesticity, Lee Stringer recounts an episode from his crack-addicted past, and the protagonist toasts the ‘working class voice’ of Amy Winehouse. Marina Abramovic, Björk, Harmony Korine and Patti Smith also appear. Treating significant and inconsequential moments with equal import, Mekas’ modern day saga presents the first episodes from his ambitious ‘1001 Nights’ project. (Mark Webber)

Also Screening: Tuesday 18 October 2011, at 9pm, VUE3
& Thursday 20 October 2011, at 7pm, BFI Studio


Intimate Visions: Films by Chick Strand

Date: 23 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Sunday 23 October 2011, at 2pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

As one of the instigators of Canyon Cinema, Chick Strand (1931-2009) was at the heart of 1960s West Coast avant-garde. Her film work, comprising of found footage and personally photographed material, has been rarely seen in the UK and is presented now in newly preserved prints. Strand’s camera is almost continually in motion, catching details in kinetic close-up to convey celebrations of intimacy and the joys of living.

Chick Strand, Cartoon le Mousse, USA, 1979, 15 min
In her collage films, Strand uses the magic of editing to conjure surreal humour from the connections between disparate fragments.

Chick Strand, Mosori Monika, USA, 1970, 20 min
The impact of American missionaries on the Warao Indians in Venezuela is considered from the viewpoints of women from each side.

Chick Strand, Angel Blue Sweet Wings, USA, 1966, 3 min
A multi-layered cine-poem apropos life and vision.

Chick Strand, Loose Ends, USA, 1979, 25 min
Found footage is used to convey the effect of information overload, finding wit and pathos in the complicated synthesis of personal experience and media assault.

Chick Strand, Artificial Paradise, USA, 1986, 13 min
‘The anthropologist’s most human desire: the ultimate contact with the informant. The denial of intellectualism and the acceptance of the romantic heart, and a soul without innocence.’ (CS)

Chick Strand, Kristallnacht, USA, 1979, 7 min
‘Dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, and the tenacity of the human spirit.’ (CS)

Also Screening: Thursday 27 October 2011, at 9pm, NFT3


Phil Solomon’s American Falls

Date: 23 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Sunday 23 October 2011, at 4pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

‘Should anyone imagine that the art of alchemy died with the Middle Ages, Phil Solomon’s American Falls testifies to the contrary: both to the possibilities of photographic and digital transformation and to the magical emanations of their fusion.’ (Tony Pipolo, Artforum)

Phil Solomon, American Falls, USA, 2010, 60 min
In his sublime 16mm films, Phil Solomon chemically alters photographic imagery to create a thick celluloid impasto that infuses footage with profound emotional resonance. For American Falls, Solomon rifles through a collective memory fashioned from both fact and fiction, mixing elements from newsreels, actualities and narrative films in a monumental retelling of American history which draws parallels with and reflects upon the current state of the nation. Houdini, Harold Lloyd, Keaton and King Kong commingle with presidents, gold-diggers, railroad barons and the civil rights movement. ‘My project is ultimately one of great hope, stemming from a life-long love for this American experiment of ours … but it is also necessitated by my deepest concern for its present and future directions.’ Originally conceived as a 360-degree installation around the walls of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s rotunda, the work has been reconfigured for the cinema as a panoramic view in triptych, with surround sound mix by composer Wrick Wolff.

Screening with

Phil Solomon, What’s Out Tonight Is Lost, USA, 1983, 8 min
‘The film began in response to an evaporating relationship, but gradually seeped outward to anticipate other imminent disappearing acts: youth, family, friends, time … I wanted the tonal shifts of the film’s surface to act as a barometer of the changes in the emotional weather.’ (PS)
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive, Los Angeles.

Also Screening: Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 4pm, NFT3

Phil Solomon will present screenings of his earlier films at Tate Modern on 24 & 27 October.


The Pettifogger

Date: 23 October 2011 | Season: London Film Festival 2011 | Tags:

Sunday 23 October 2011, at 7pm
London BFI Southbank NFT3

Lewis Klahr, The Pettifogger, USA, 2011, 65 min
The first feature-length work by Lewis Klahr takes a unique approach to a familiar genre. Ostensibly a thriller that traces events in the life of an American gambler and con man circa 1963, The Pettifogger is described by the filmmaker as ‘an abstract crime film and, like many other crime films involving larceny, a sensorial exploration of the virulence of unfettered capitalism.’ Characters lifted from comic books move through an impressionistic landscape of textures, photographs and drawings, populating a story whose narrative is suggested but not strongly defined. Employing a range of iconography and appropriated audio to expand his signature style of collage animation, Klahr recycles symbols of popular culture to address themes of the loss of innocence and the irresistible allure of wealth.

Screening with

Lewis Klahr, April Snow, USA, 2010, 10 min
A love story about cars and girls, carried away by songs from the Shangri-La’s and The Boss.

Also Screening: Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 7pm, STUDIO