Experimenta, the avant-garde and experimental films strand of the London Film Festival returns in its 2012 edition (October 19th-21st) with the biggest and broadest programme to date. The main protagonist of the section curated by Mark Webber with assistance from Shama Khanna, is the presentation in Europe of Peter Kubelka's latest work Antiphon (2012), as part of his lecture Monument Film. Kubelka will also be the protagonist of a full retrospective of his work, and of Martina Kudlácek's latest documentary film Fragments of Kubelka (2012).
The festival opens with the screening of a newly-restored print of Isidore Isou's masterpiece Traité de bave et d'éternité (1951), and will present as always, a selection of the most recent experimental works including the latest films and videos by Nathaniel Dorsky, Jerome Hiler, Luke Fowler, Mati Diop, Beatrice Gibson, Ben Rivers, Laida Lertxundi,... Experimenta will also present present several screenings the precious week coinciding with the Frieze Art Fair, from 10-13 October.
Experimenta Weekend 2012
as part of the BFI London Film Festival
October 19-21 2012
- Breaking the frame (Marielle Nitoslawska, Canada 2012, 100 mins)
ICA, Screen 1, October 10, 2012, 20h
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 19, 2012, 21h
Breaking the Frame is the first feature-length documentary on Carolee Schneemann, an artist whose pioneering work has transformed discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. In cinema history, she is primarily known for Fuses, an honestly explicit film of lovemaking from a feminine viewpoint shot between 1964-67. For decades, Schneemann has similarly challenged taboos in other media, making paintings, performances, video, collage and installations in which personal experiences are absolutely entwined with formal considerations: ‘Form is emotion. I work towards metaphors of sensation, a dramatisation of loss and recovery.’ Her kinetic performance style, developed while a key member of the Judson Dance Theater, produced pieces such as Meat Joy, Up To And Including Her Limits and Interior Scroll, now regarded as seminal works of live art. In this mesmerising film, which forgoes chronological biography, the artist generously shares her memories and extraordinary personal archive.
- The dream and the silence (Jaime Rosales, Spain 2012, 110 mins)
ICA, Screen 1, October 12, 2012, 20:45h
ICA, Screen 1, October 14, 2012, 16:15h
Over the past decade, Jaime Rosales has established himself as one of Spain’s most original directors. His bold and beautiful films have been unafraid of tackling difficult or uncomfortable subjects – from the psyche of a serial killer in his first film, The Hours of the Day (2003) to the moments leading up to a terrorist assassination in Bullet in the Head (2008). For his fourth feature, framed by two short sequences featuring Miquel Barceló, one of Spain’s leading painters, at work, Rosales explores the devastation that hits a family following a shocking bereavement. The glacial black-and-white palette works brilliantly in conveying this world bereft of colour, while the camerawork, at once both distancing and involving, expertly captures the desolation and miscommunication that ensues as the family try and come to terms with the implications of an accident that throws their comfortable world into disarray.
- Fly into the Mystery
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 21, 2012, 21h
- A Lax Riddle Unit (Laida Lertxundi, USA-Spain 2011, 6 mins)
‘In a Los Angeles interior, moving walls for loss. Practicing a song to a loved one. A film of the feminine structuring body.’ (Laida Lertxundi)
- Agatha (Beatrice Gibson, UK 2012, 14 mins)
Strangers in a strange land. As the narrator recounts a dream by composer Cornelius Cardew, the viewer is transported from the hills of Snowdonia to a mental landscape where sci-fi commingles with sexual fantasy.
- Well Then There Now (Lewis Klahr, UK 2011, 12 mins)
Loosely interpreting a scenario by John Zorn, Klahr uses subconscious logic to weave strands of suspense from collaged images and fragments of voiceover.
- The Plant (Mary Helena Clark, USA 2012, 8 min)
‘A film filled with clues and stray transmissions built on the bad geometry of point-of-view shots.’
- Arbor (Janie Geiser, USA 2012, 7 min)
The layered imagery of Geiser’s uncanny animations suggest surreal worlds and spectral presences. ‘I was wide awake, in a dream.’
- The Tiger’s Mind (Beatrice Gibson, UK, 2012, 20 mins)
Again referencing Cardew, Gibson’s new project The Tiger’s Mind takes his 1967 text score and applies it to the process of making a collaborative film, for which each contributor assumes the role of a character. The result is an abstract psychodrama and crime thriller set against the backdrop of a modernist house. Commissioned by The Showroom and CAC Bretigny.
- Fragments of Kubelka (Martina Kudlácek, Austria 2012, 232 mins)
ICA, Screen 1, October 13, 2012, 13h
In this extended portrait, Peter Kubelka speaks at length about his life, work and interests, drawing on a vast range of knowledge and experience. Active as a filmmaker since the 1950s, Kubelka’s acclaimed cinematic works are only one aspect of his dynamic personality. In his legendary public lectures, he holds forth on a variety of disciplines including film, music, archaeology and cooking. He has also played an important institutional role in establishing the Austrian Film Museum, and as co-founder of Anthology Film Archives, for whom he designed an ideal viewing theatre known as the Invisible Cinema. Martina Kudlácek (known for previous documentaries on Maya Deren and Marie Menken) immersed herself in Kubelka’s world for several years, researching historical footage, recording lectures, and perhaps most importantly, filming him at home surrounded by his eclectic collection of anthropological objects. In these precious sequences, Fragments of Kubelka provides extraordinary insight in conveying his philosophy on life and art.
- In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 14, 2012, 18:30h
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 15, 2012, 15:45h
- In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire (Wichanon Somumjarn, Thailand 2012, 76 mins)
Nuhm leaves Bangkok for a wedding party in his home town. The trip occasions several reunions but also triggers memories of his family history and of conflicts with his dad. And then the film weaves in episodes from the director’s own family memories: a fire, a divorce, a jellyfish sting... The plotless flow of conversation and incident, fiction and fact, reverie and reality, adds up to a portrait of modern Thailand, emphasising the chasm between urban and rural lives. Trained as an architect, Wichanon brings a profoundly poetic eye to an almost Proustian vision.
- Overseas (Wichanon Somumjarn & Anocha Suwichakornpong, Thailand 2012, 16 mins)
Wichanon and Anocha’s new short centres on a Burmese woman in Thailand with a dirty job and a complaint she takes to the police.)
- I’m Going to Change My Name (Maria Saakyan, Armenia-Russia-Denmark-Germany 2012, 96 mins)
ICA, Screen 1, October 12, 2012, 16:15h
ICA, Screen 1, October 14, 2012, 21h
Based on the Armenian ‘Sharakan’, a nine-part song that brings us gradually closer to meaning, Maria Saakyan’s new film further develops the poetic invention apparent in her first feature, The Lighthouse. Focusing on the world of a 14-year-old girl, Evridika, who is experiencing the first extremes of adolescent emotion, it makes effective and imaginative use of her private world centred on internet chat rooms and mobile phone recordings. The film’s originality lies in a dream world of images and poetry (Rilke’s poems to Orpheus and Eurydice, and Saakyan’s own), in which the Armenian landscape also plays its role. Her mother’s former lover returns, giving rise to unforeseen consequences and parallels. Her film, says Saakyan, is designed to reflect the different dimensions of love. While this is a highly personal work, one can find influences as various as Tarkovsky and Maya Deren.
- Mati Diop
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 20, 2012, 19h
- Atlantiques (Mati Diop, France 2009, 16 mins)
‘A story about boys who are continually travelling: between past, present and future, between life and death, history and myth.’ (Mati Diop)
- Big in Vietnam (Mati Diop, France 2011, 28 mins)
When a lead actor disappears from set, the director searches for him in the city of Marseille. Stumbling into a karaoke bar, she loses herself in memories of her former home in Vietnam, and encounters a man who shares her sense of displacement. As night becomes day, they walk along the seafront and he recounts the story of his journey from the Far East to Europe.
- Snow Canon (Mati Diop, France 2011, 33 mins)
Stranded in her parents’ chalet in the French Alps, a teenage girl passes time chatting online with friends, until the babysitter arrives and events take an unexpected turn. Innocent pastimes give way to games of power and seduction.
- Mekong Hotel
Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 2, October 12, 2012, 18h
Ciné Lumière, October 14, 2012, 18:15h
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 16, 2012, 15:15h
- Mekong Hotel (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand 2012, 57 mins)
Apichatpong’s new reverie is set in a hotel overlooking the Mekong River, on Thailand’s border with Laos; the region was once flooded with refugees from the Laotian civil war, but the talk now is of floods in faraway Bangkok. The actors play out scenes from a script about reincarnated lovers (the girl’s mother is a pob ghost, who feeds on human and animal entrails) but sometimes chat and reminisce as themselves. Nobody would call this a blend of fiction and documentary, though: everything is equally real – or unreal.
- Mother (Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul, Thailand 2012, 64 mins)
Vorakorn’s mother has severe mental and physical problems and is often in hospital. The 23-year-old director poetically mixes documentary, dramatised reconstructions and fantasy to support her in the only way he can.
- Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 20, 2012, 14h
- August and After (Nathaniel Dorsky, USA 2012, 19 mins)
‘After a lifetime, two mutual friends, George Kuchar and Carla Liss, passed away during the same period of time.’ (Nathaniel Dorsky)
- April (Nathaniel Dorsky, USA 2012, 26 mins)
‘Following a period of trauma and grief, the world around me once again declared itself in the form of one of the loveliest springs I can ever remember in San Francisco. April is intended as a companion piece for August and After, and is partly funded by a gift from Carla Liss.’ (Nathaniel Dorsky)
- Words of Mercury (Jerome Hiler, USA 2011, 25 mins)
Jerome Hiler, who shares Dorsky’s heightened sense of wonder at the world around him, builds sensuous layers of superimposition at the moment of shooting. A most private filmmaker, whose primary craft is the less transient medium of stained glass, he has until recently only shown his work as camera originals, thus limiting their public visibility. His inclusion in the latest Whitney Biennial prompted this first digital transfer.
- Ocupy the cinema
ICA, Screen 1, October 11, 2012, 20h
- Austerity Measures (Ben Russell & Guillaume Cailleau, Greece-Germany 2012, 9 mins)
Athens at crisis point: a colour-separation portrait of the Exarchia neighbourhood during the anti-austerity protests.
- Seeking the Monkey King (Ken Jacobs, USA 2011, 39 mins)
Amid the hypnotic, flickering motion of a metallic terrain, vitriolic onscreen texts rail against American culpability, from the Revolution to Iraq to the present administration. Each statement casts an arrow, and JG Thirlwell’s monstrously cinematic score drives them home.
- Deep State (Karen Mirza & Brad Butler, UK 2012, 44 mins)
‘An audacious, semi-fantastical secret history of the counterforces of popular protest and clandestine control, this struggle is told through archive material, contemporary footage and future speculation.’ A direct development of the filmmakers’ visit to Cairo prior to the Tahrir Square uprising, Deep State was commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella, made in collaboration with author China Miéville.
- On Venom and Eternity (Isidore Isou, France 1951, 120 mins)
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 19, 2012, 18:30h
The first and only film by the founder of the French Lettrist movement begins with a warning: ‘Dear spectators, you are about to see a discrepant film. No refunds will be given.’ Advocating for the rupture of language and photography, Isou expects the spectator to ‘leave the cinema blind, his ears crushed, both torn asunder by the disjunction of word and image’. At the 1951 Cannes Festival, where Traité received its first pubic screening, it won the admiration of Guy Debord and Jean Cocteau, who wondered if it would take 50 years before its radical aesthetics could be understood. The Lettrists believed the development of cinema had been stalled by the domination of the studio system. In order for a new cinema to emerge, it had first to be destroyed – symbolically and physically – by bleaching and scratching the images, and by replacing soundtracks with abrasive concrete poetry and enraged tirades.
- Peter Kubelka presents Monument Film
BFI Southbank, NFT1, October 21, 2012, 14h
The Austrian filmmaker Peter Kubelka has been a vital and uncompromising force in cinema for more than half a century. In a body of work that lasts not much more than an hour in total, he condenses and articulates the essential qualities of analogue cinema, distinguishing film as an autonomous artform. His 1960 film Arnulf Rainer, composed only of the purest elements of light and darkness, sound and silence, remains one of the most radical achievements in film history. In 2012, his new work Antiphon – in equal terms a response to that earlier film and a testament to the entire medium – will be revealed in a unique lecture screening. With 35mm projectors situated in the auditorium, each film will be screened individually, then combined as double projections, both side-by-side and superimposed upon each other. Throughout the event, Kubelka will explicate his theories, communicating his enthusiasm for cinema, and the differences between film and digital media.
- Peter Kubelka: The Essence of Cinema
ICA, Screen 1, October 11, 2012, 18h
The seven films made by Peter Kubelka between 1955 and 2003 are an extraordinary demonstration of cinematic possibilities. In the ‘metric’ films Adebar, Schwechater and Arnulf Rainer, each individual element is precisely placed in relation to each other and the whole, resulting in a rhythmic viewing experience that articulates his assertion that ‘film is not movement’. The ‘metaphoric’ works Mosaik im Vertrauen, Unsere Afrikareise, Pause! and Dichtung und Wahrheit explore ways in which meaning can be constructed by the juxtaposition of images and sound. Astounding at first sight, our understanding of these films deepens with repeated viewings.
‘Kubelka’s cinema is like a piece of crystal, or some other object of nature: It doesn´t look like it was produced by man; one could easily conceive that it was picked up from among the organic treasures of nature.’ Jonas Mekas
- Mosaik im Vertrauen (Austria 1955, 16 mins)
- Adebar (Austria 1957, 1 min)
- Schwechater (Austria 1958, 1 min)
- Arnulf Rainer (Austria 1960, 6 min)
- Unsere Afrikareise (Austria 1966, 13 mins)
- Pause! (Austria 1977, 12 mins)
- Dichtung und Wahrheit (Arnulf Rainer, Austria 2003, 13 mins)
- The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott (Luke Fowler, UK 2012, 61 mins)
ICA, Screen 1, October 10, 2012, 18h
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 21, 2012, 16h
The new work by Luke Fowler, a current nominee for the Turner Prize, explores the role played by left wing intellectuals in the working class communities of post-war Yorkshire. At night schools organised by the Workers’ Educational Association, adults with no other access to further education were taught by progressive thinkers such as Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart and EP Thompson, from whose treatise The Making of the English Working Class the film takes its long-winded title. As in previous studies of RD Laing and Cornelius Cardew, Fowler makes effective use of archival and contemporary materials. The result is far from a conventional documentary: in place of objective commentary, the soundtrack features the lilting voice of artist Ceryth Wyn Evans reading Thompson’s class reports (pointed and often droll). For the present-day images of municipal buildings, West Riding towns and surrounding landscapes, Fowler shot in collaboration with American independent filmmaker Peter Hutton.
- Rites of Passage
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 20, 2012, 21h
- Great Blood Sacrifice (Steve Reinke, Canada 2010, 4 mins)
‘Whatever is going on on top, there’s a precise machine at work below, and this machine is digging little grooves, and these grooves slowly join together and become the conduits by which all meaning is drained from the world.’ (Steve Reinke)
- Lack of Evidence (Hayoun Kwon, France 2011, 10 mins)
To cleanse his village of demons, the chief of a Nigerian tribe plans to sacrifice his twin sons. One escapes and flees to Europe, where his application for asylum is dismissed through lack of material proof. Using his testimony as the basis, Kwon proposes an animated depiction of his account.
- Birds (Gabriel Abrantes, Portugal 2012, 17 mins)
Pagan folk myth is juxtaposed with ancient Greek comedy as three Haitian girls witness disparate forms of storytelling. An old man tells the tale of his wife’s transformation into a goat. In a local village, an elaborately costumed theatre group performs Aristophanes’ Birds in the original Attic language.
- Ponce de León (Ben Russell & Jim Drain, USA 2012, 26 mins)
‘Our Ponce de León is an immortal for whom time poses the greatest dilemma – it is a constant, a given, and his personal battle lies in trying to either arrest time entirely or to make the hands on his clock move ever faster. For Ponce de León, time is a problem of body, and only by escaping his container can he escape time itself.’ (Ben Russell)
- River Rites (Ben Russell, USA-Suriname 2011, 12 mins)
‘Trance dance and water implosion.’ A constantly moving camera passes through a complex choreography of bodies engaged in rituals of work and play along the Upper Suriname River.
- Two Architecture Studies
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 20, 2012, 16h
- Along the Lines (Catalina Niculescu, UK-Romania 2011, 16 mins)
On a trip to her native Romania, the artist’s interest in architectural forms prompted a visual investigation into how decorative and structural motifs recur in buildings from the traditional to the modern.
- Reconversão (Thom Andersen, Portugal-USA 2012, 65 mins)
Invited to film in Portugal on the occasion of the Vila do Conde Festival’s 20th anniversary, Thom Andersen chose to document building projects by Eduardo Souto de Moura, whose work combines modernist aesthetics with traces of the architectural history of his sites. Incorporating local materials with contemporary building techniques, his clean concrete lines harmonise with natural elements and traditional stone walls. Influenced in equal measure by Mies van der Rohe and minimal sculptors such as Judd and Morris, Souto de Moura’s achievements include meticulous linear houses, the Porto subway network, and the monumental Braga Stadium, which rises out of the earth beside a mountain of imposing granite. This leisurely film features 17 such projects and culminates in a conversation between the filmmaker and the distinguished architect.
- Where the Magic Happens
BFI Southbank, NFT3, October 21, 2012, 19h
- Ten minutiae (Peter Miller, Germany 2012, 5 mins)
A series of brief exercises in cinematographic magic.
- I am Micro (Shumona Goel & Shai Heredia, India 2012, 15 mins)
‘Shot in an abandoned optics factory and centred on the activities of a low budget film crew, I am Micro is an experimental essay about filmmaking, the medium of film, and the spirit of making independent cinema.’ (Shumona Goel / Shai Heredia)
- Rita Larson’s Boy (Kevin Jerome Everson, USA 2012, 11 mins)
In one of a trilogy of works based on personalities from the filmmaker’s parents’ hometown, actors audition for the role of sitcom character Rollo Larson. As they attempt to inhabit the character, subtle variations in delivery bring a hypnotic dimension to disconnected lines and repetitive actions.
- True-Life Adventure (Erin Espelie, USA 2012, 4 mins)
Espelie trains her camera on the myriad life forms that coexist within a small area around a mountain creek. ‘When nature writes the screenplays, she doesn’t abide by crescendos.’ (Erin Espelie)
- Dark Garden (Nick Collins, UK 2011, 9 mins)
Contours of light define the flowers and plants of a winter garden, filmed against the black expanse of the night sky.
- Within (Robert Todd, USA 2012, 9 mins)
‘A film that sustains a complex condition: keeping the inner world alive as the camera looks ‘out’ upon the world.’ (Robert Todd)
- By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging (David Gatten, USA 2012, 8 mins)
An ‘experiment touching colours’ inspired by 17th Century scientist Robert Boyle, bringing together exquisite images shot over a 13-year period. Its title, from a sonnet by Jorie Graham, encapsulates the process and infers its poetic consequence.
- The Creation As We Saw It (Ben Rivers, UK 2012, 14 mins)
Unexpectedly given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, Ben Rivers chose Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Amidst the villages and landscapes of this remote archipelago, he sought out the creation myths and folktales of a distant culture.