Close-Up:Dalia Neis, Magdalena Bazantova, Stephanie Barber & Margaret Tait

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Close-Up: Dalia Neis, Magdalena Bazantova, Stephanie Barber & Margaret Tait
The Working Men’s Club
44-46 Pollard Row, London E2 6NB
Ticket: £5/FREE to Close-Up members

A rare opportunity to see a selection of films by 3 contemporary filmmakers from Prague, Baltimore and London, followed by a Q&A with the artists. The programme is supplemented by a selection of Margaret Tait’s films.

Tuesday 1 December 8pm
Dalia Neis - Selected Films

- Missing Meilich (2004, DV, Colour & b&w, 22 mins)
A personal document of my Ancestral pilgrimage. I travelled to Poland in search of my missing uncle, Meilich Last. The film attempts to re-trace the remnants of the spiritual and ghostly presence of the vanished world of my cultural origins. — DN
- Goray 1648 (2007, DV, Colour & b&w, 8 mins)
An exploration of the interface between Judaic folk beliefs, messianic superstition, and the origins of Zion. ‘Goray 1648‘ presents itself as a forgotten diasporic archive that transmits the private apocalyptic visions and primal archetypal myths embodied in the folk tales of a 1930s Yiddish film, home movies of the filmmaker’s family in Palestine, symbolic drawings, and found photographs. The film’s title is inspired by the events of a novel written by Isaac Beshavis Singer in 1932 about Goray, a part mythical village at the end of the earth that descends into religious hysteria upon the arrival of a false messiah in 1648. — DN
- Saints (2005, 16mm, b&w, 5 mins)
A reflection on cinema and its relationship to devotional belief. ‘Saints‘ presents itself as a fragment from an abandoned folk archive. A document of portraits of North African Jewish and Islamic saints - It is believed that through meeting the gaze of a saint, their wisdom and courage are transmitted to the onlooker. — DN
- Lalla Soulika (2005, DV, Colour, 4 mins)
Part prayer and part folk ritual, ‘Lalla soulika‘ describes the filmmaker’s ecstatic encounter with the tomb of a 17th century female saint, venerated by Jews and Muslims in Morocco. — DN

Followed by a Q&A with the artist

Tuesday 8 December 8pm
Magdalena Bazantova - Selected Films

- ABCDevil (2008, DV, Colour, 8 mins), With Veronika Vlkova
Acclaimed scribble love story filled with mad chases, unexpected plot twists and wild…pyrotechnics… gripping action, stunning cinematography, black humour and stocking violence. But mainly on friendship between childish humor and adult misery. — MB
- I am 30 and life is shit (2009, DV, Colour, 11 mins)
Sometimes the heroine dies in the first scene, but has to perform for the rest of the movie anyway, despite the fact, that her energy isn’t always flowing freely, healthily and naturally. — MB
- Snow Queen (2009, DV, Colour, 13 mins) With Veronika Vlkova
“…The tale begins with the shattering of a magical mirror, its pieces spreading over the world. When a shard enters a person’s eye, they only see the negative aspects of things. When it enters someone’s heart, it turns to ice. The symptoms of depression are eerily similar, including irritability, negative thoughts and perhaps even worse, numbness…”
- This Film B (2009, DV, Colour, 10 mins)
Changing identity is easier, than facing the spectres you might have created, especially if you can’t run very fast and it makes the movie shorter. — MB
- Mind your own business aka Sandokan (2009, DV, Colour, 6 mins)
Superhero: I found this in front of your house.
UFO: That’s not mine.
Superhero: Can I keep it?
UFO: Yes.
UFO’s mother: Will you have a piece of cake?
Superhero: Well.. I have to go.
- Rocket (2009, DV, Colour, 9 mins)
This is a bubble base in the Universe, but it is abandoned now. We are at home. — MB

Followed by a Q&A with the artist

Tuesday 15 December 8pm
Stephanie Barber - Selected Films

- Flower, the boy, the librarian (1996, 16mm, Colour, 6 mins)
For those who find listing and repetition romantic. A near perfect structure. Three acts, an auditory red herring and classic love story. — SB
- Letters, Notes (2000, 16mm, Colour, 6 mins)
This film brings together found photographs and letters to create new mini narratives. Death and disease are set blithely beside, and given equal importance as, the sighting of a skunk or love sick scribblings. — SB
- They invented machines (1997, 16mm, Colour, 7 mins)
This film is thinking about colonialism, entertainment and love. The images are taken mostly on Disneyworld rides where one is shown facsimiles of people from faraway lands. The sound track a little more than half way through ceases its cricketing and, against impressionistic waterfalls, mentions love (”they have love here”) which must then be thought of in the context of this same wonder, possession and amusement. The film ends with a series of flights. — SB
- Total power dead, dead, dead (2005, 16mm, Colour, 3 mins)
A love letter to the charm of two dimensional images and a struggle for attention. Confusion over the inequity of the mortality of images and that of humans. (slightest indictment). The spectacle awaits our adoration, gives a tender, false intimation of collusion. — SB
- A little present (for my friend Columbus the explorer) (1997, 16mm, Colour, 3 mins)
While referencing the explorer Christopher Columbus the film is actually a gift for my friend, the performance artist, Theresa Columbus. The short imagistic film is suggesting, or questioning, ever so gently the effects– both positive and negative–that exploring has on that which is being explored. Our most well known Columbus, now so often vilified, here stands in for a more psychological and artistic exploration and the fall out that can occur from that sort of expansionism as well. Like many of my films the piece itself works almost separately from the implications and sidelong glances of the title and the way it interacts with the, almost passive, images and often quite dominant soundtracks.
- War Story (2008, DV, Colour, 7 mins)
War Story is a brief treatise on the language of war and how the slightest suggestion of such words propels our imagination towards these ideas. The abstraction of language in this video references both the fascinating history of concrete poetry as well as the nature of conflict itself–so subjective, relative and open to interpretation. The second half of the piece unveils an historic and somehow lonely nationalism–the seeming mockery of this moment is softened by the duration of the shot and the rain and the truly moving harmonies through which these ideas are condensed and sold back to a nation. — SB
- The visit and the play (2008, DV, Colour, 8 mins)
A playful and dark conversational study. I am wrapping prose poetry into the recognizable conversational form and allowing both connections and missed meanings. First the ladies visit, then they go to watch a play. On a television, in a snow garden. In many ways the play references the cadence of the ladies’ conversation–the tedious animosity and lack of attentive or appropriate response. In the end all i want to think about lately is the art of conversation, the various directions this art takes and the ways one’s receptivity to dialog changes when the subjects creating this dialog are taken out of the equation, or suggested scantily. Has screened at the northwest film forum, chicago underground film festival, portland documentary experimental film festival and several other venues in the last few months. — SB
- Dwarfs the sea (2007, DV, Colour, 7 mins)
Small biographies and musing generalizations–men’s relations to each other and their lives. There is hope and loneliness, companionship and isolation and the simplest of filmic elements to contrast the complexity of human emotions. The delicacy of the formalist writing moves the listener from intimacy to universalism and back again, swaying gently to and fro like the rocking of a ship. — SB
- The inversion, transcription, evening track and attractor (2008, DV, b&w, 13 mins)
How looking at what has become the skeletons of photographs is a visual lecture on aesthetic pleasure or emotion. And how being, almost entirely denied of this pleasure, or having the pleasure merely suggested induces a viewer to ruminate on the act of viewing and that of wanting to view. And maybe it is evolution which causes this anxiety and art form. A series of collages recreating the photographs of well known artists (Uta Barth, Kohei Yoshiyuki, Candida Hofer, Deborah Willis) and a very slight suggestion of the actual photographs. - SB

Stephanie Barber creates meticulously crafted, odd and imaginative films and videos. She has had solo screenings of her work at MoMA, NY, Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center, Chicago Filmmakers and many other museums, galleries and artspaces around the world.

“Stephanie Barber…has one of the most original visions to emerge recently from the diverse experimental film scene. Deceptively simple at first, her work is unique in the way it alters and even suspends time.” — Fred Camper, The Chicago Reader

Followed by a Q&A with the artist

Tuesday 22 December 8pm
Margaret Tait - Selected Films

- Portrait Of Ga (1952, 16mm, Colour, 4 mins)
Portrait of the filmmaker’s mother.
- Aerial (1974, 16mm, Colour, 4 mins)
“Touches on elemental images; air, water, (and snow), earth and fire (and smoke) all come into it.” - MT
- Hugh Macdiarmid, A Portrait (1964, 16mm, b&w, 9 mins)
A study of the poet who was 71 at the time, seen at home and in Edinburgh.
- Where i am is here (1964, 16mm, b&w, 33 mins)
“Starting with a six-line script which just noted down a kind of event to occur, and recur, my aim was to construct a film with its own logic, its own correspondences within itself, and its own echoes and rhymes and comparisons, all through close exploration of the everyday, the commonplace, in the city of Edinburgh.” - MT
- Tailpiece (1976, 16mm, b&w, 9 mins)
“A coda to Place of Work, is more personalised, more allusive and less naturalistic. The house is being vacated, it is now clear. Children’s voices repeating banded-down rhymes and rigmarole’s suggest past time as well as now, and there are other reverberations into past and future coming from the handling of objects, revealing of marks of walls, mirroring of myself in a room and shadows in rooms.” - MT

Margaret Tait was one of Britain’s most unique filmmakers. She studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome during the height of the neorealist movement, before returning to Scotland in the early 1950s and founding her own film company, Ancona Films. Over the course of 46 years she produced over 30 films including one feature, and published three books of poetry and two volumes of short stories, while living between Orkney and Edinburgh.

Tait described her life’s work as consisting of making film poems, and denied suggestions that they were documentaries or diary films. She often quoted Lorca’s phrase of ’stalking the image’ to define her philosophy and method, believing that if you look at an object closely enough it will speak its nature. This clarity of vision and purpose, with an attention to simple commonplace subjects, combined with a rare sense of inner rhythm and pattern, give her films a transcendental quality, while still remaining firmly rooted within the everyday With characteristic modesty, 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.”

“No aspiring film-maker, or filmgoer, could possibly fail to be inspired by her precious work” - Sukhdev Sandhu, The New Statesman

“A unique and underrated filmmaker, nobody like her. Born of the Italian neorealists, formed of her own Scottish pragmatism, optimism, generosity and experimental spirit, and a clear forerunner of the English experimental directors of the late 20th century. A clear example of, and pioneer of, the poetic tradition, the experimental tradition, the democratic tradition, in the best of risk-taking Scottish cinema.” — Alt Smith

This screening is supported by LUX
Followed by a Q&A with the artist