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Cineinfinito #11: Richard Martin

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

Richard Martin is a filmmaker from Vancouver Canada. At 19 he began directing and editing documentary films at the National Film Board of Canada. He was inspired by the West Coast film scene of Dave Rimmer and Al Razutis and began his own explorations in cinema. "Diminished", produced in 1979 won Honorable Mention at the 9th Northwest Film Festival and screened at Ann Arbor. Gene Youngblood described the film as “A delicately structured non-verbal poem about loss, time and memory, closer in style to Michael Snow or Hollis Frampton than to Alain Resnais... A documentary of the heart.” He worked extensively in film and television before returning to personal work with Mixed Signals which premiered at the 55th Berlin International Film Festival. He has straddled the worlds of mainstream and experimental film exploring time, memory and cinematic convention.

Richard Martin has made two short films of interest. Your Daughter is Sleeping (1978) is an essay in combining autobiography and invented narrative. His next film, Diminished (1979), reveals that Martin has found a more satisfying way of dealing with the interface that interests him, that of personal feelings and making images. The film is dedicated to his step-father. Its form is simple: an antique photograph of a little boy, progressively obscured by white streaks and blotches, frames a central sequence of continually dissolving stills depicting moments from a hospital visit. A transitional snapshot of a middle-aged couple links, by implication, the little boy and the hospital room. There is no further clarification, although the two brief subtitles ("no not alone," "I love you") posit the filmmaker as eye and his relation to the empty hospital bed: a relation involving time, loss, and a looking again at the images that remain. Tougas' Far from Quebec comes to mind — the more so as the boy seems to be a mid-19th century image and thus is probably not the man in the snapshot. It's as if Martin is attempting to come to terms with his grief by universalizing it. He succeeds in telling his own life through everyman's. The film is very poignant: its delicacy and reserve speak emotion. –Tony Reif,  Vancouver Art and Artists, 1983  (Vancouver Art Gallery)


- Gathering (1975, 22min b&w, sound, 16mm)
I was 17, cynical and commenting on 'youth'. The scenes were set-up but ultimately improvised. The party scene was real and documented with a couple of cameras. It is reasonably accurate to the situation. "Gathering depicts the adolescent male's booze-and- broads mentality in rough and realistic fashion". Pacific Cinematheque New Vancouver Film 1976

- Give That Person There a Camera (1977, 3min color, sound, 16mm)
I used to wander the streets of Vancouver very early in the morning experiencing sights, sounds and people going about their business. Somewhere along the way I imagined a narrative attempting to be natural and without pretence. - RM

- Just After Christmas (1977, 3min color, sound, 16mm)
A sculptural and quasi-performance piece involving discarded Christmas trees. A meditation on passing and things-left-behind. - RM

- Your Daughter Is Sleeping (1978, 8min color, sound, 16mm)
I picked up the telephone one day and somehow got cross-connected into a conversation between a couple talking about the simple experiences of their day which included the line "Your daughter is sleeping". I felt as a voyeur, hearing and seeing things I was not meant to see and hear. Somehow that became a metaphor for filmmaking, as imperfect as that experience can be. - RM

- Diminished (1980, 7min color, sound, 16mm)
I made this for my step-father who had passed away. I had an old "Ambrotype" and if you held it up to the light, you could scratch away the backing to expose the negative. I set it up on an animation stand and created the sequence. This framed a central sequence of still photographs depicting a hospital visit. - RM

“A delicately structured non-verbal poem about loss, time and memory, closer in style to Michael Snow or Hollis Frampton than to Alain Resnais. Faded images lap-dissolve against ‘small sounds’ and enigmatic subtitles like voices from the past. A documentary of the heart” Gene Youngblood

- Winter Last July (1983, 14min color, sound, 16mm)
I travelled to Australia in 1979 as artist-in-residence to a Brisbane art gallery screening Canadian experimental film. I was handed a bunch of 16mm film and set about recording visual experiences. At the same time, I had access to a recording facility and a grand piano. A couple of years later the two experiences merged into a personal travelogue that was part happenstance and part pre-ordained. - RM

Cineinfinito #11: Richard Martin

Image Gallery: 

Gathering (Richard Martin, 1975)
Gathering (Richard Martin, 1975)


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