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Film Talks (A Touring Programme of Experimental Film)

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Film Talks: 15 Conversations on Experimental Cinema, edited by Andrew Vallance and Simon Payne, is a collection of unique conversations on experimental cinema, involving a range of international film and video makers from the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. The book represents a snapshot of diverse ways that several practitioners have come to think about the field of experimental cinema, in relation to other art forms, moving image culture at large, and wider social issues. This touring film programme (in May 2024) features over twenty 16mm films and video works by several of the artists who feature in Film Talks, drawing out new ideas and connections that span different visions of cinema.

Dates and venues:

8th May – TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto (Programme 1)

9th May – Film Studies Center, University of Chicago (Programme 1)

10th May – Block Cinema, Northwestern University, Chicago (Programme 2)

13th May  – Visions at Cinémathèque québécoise, Montréal (Programme 1)

14th May – Visions at Cinémathèque qbécoise, Montréal (Programme 2)

16th May – Ad Hoc, Innis College, University of Toronto (Programme 2)

24th May – Close-Up Film Centre, London (Programme 1)

25th May – Close-Up Film Centre, London (Programme 2)

Programme 1

 

Candle, Neil Henderson (UK, 2018, 16mm, colour, silent, 3 mins)

A polaroid of a candle is observed developing from the moment of capture to its final state. The film presents this event in reverse. As the image ‘un-develops’ it dissolves/fades into a frame of white light, illuminating the space and audience in the process. The photographic process takes exactly as long as one 100ft roll of 16mm, creating an equivalence between a still and a moving medium.

Arm, Flexion, Extension, Bea Haut (UK, 2011, 16mm, b/w, silent, 3 mins)

Arm, Flexion, Extension is a study of domestic time and space. Haphazardly hand-processed 16mm film blurs the distinction between the darkroom and the kitchen sink. Task as performance: a mundane action turned into an imperative gesture. The filmmaker struggles to control her environment. Base material pulses between the abstract and the everyday.

 

Inflated (Double) Struggle, Jenny Baines (UK, 2018, 16mm, b/w, silent, 3 mins)

The performance for camera depicts the artist and another person of equal strength wrestling an oversized balloon. This absurd act seems at times tender and at other times violent. The performance is determined by the camera’s mechanism in correlation to the physical endurance of the performers.

 

Babbler, Fairy and Thrush, Karel Doing (UK, 2022, 16mm, colour, sound, 4 mins)

An unfiltered stream of perception: small objects and grand panoramas appear simultaneously. The certainties of near and far, detail and overview, inside and outside are deliberately thrown into confusion. Aided by ‘in camera’ superimposition and traveling mattes, a near abstract experience is created. The work was conceived and shot within a few hundred yards from my house, focusing on the plants, flowers, trees and ferns that grow around me.

It Matters What, Francisca Duran (Canada, 2019, 16mm/digital, colour, sound, 9 mins)

Absences and translations motivate this experimental animation in an exploration of the methods and materials of reproduction and inscription. A fragment from Donna Haraway’s essay ‘Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene’ is reworked here as a poetic manifesto. Enigmatic found-footage calls into question human violence over animal species. Plant life is both the subject matter of the images and assists the means of photographic reproduction.

 

Four Diamonds, Ute Aurand (Germany, 2016, 16mm, colour, sound, 5 mins)

Two memories from a longer visit to New England in Autumn 2012: a group of elderly ladies playing bridge followed by the stormy ocean at Cape Cod in Winter while listening to Etienne Grenier's music practice.

 

Dark Garden, Nick Collins (UK, 2011, 16mm, b/w, silent, 9 mins)

16mm's black can be as dark as a winter's night. Dark Garden is akin to a black-and-white herbarium shot in the filmmaker's garden on one such cold night. Frozen plant skeletons appear on the dark emulsion and reveal their delicacy in a silver glow.

 

Five films by Helga Fanderl: Yali; Evening Twinkling; Afternoon Light; Persimmon Tree III; Big Waters 

(Germany, 2011–2012, 16mm blow-ups from Super8, 18fps, colour, silent, 10 mins)

My films record encounters with events and images in the real world that attract me. There is no post-production in my work. Every single film preserves and reflects the traces of its creation, the sensations and emotions I felt in the moment of filming.

 

Gasometers 3, Nicky Hamlyn (UK, 2015, 16mm, b/w and colour, silent, 13 mins)

One of a series of films focusing on redundant gas holders (known as gasometers in the UK) most of which were constructed between 1860 and 1890. My primary interest with the film is the way they filter, reflect, refract and break up the light that falls on them. The latticework columns and circular girders generate complex patterns of overlapping shadow movements and shifts of light. Gasometers often come in pairs, so that there is additional interplay of cast shadows over the course of a day.

Night-line, Andrew Vallance (UK, 2023, digital, colour, sound, 10 mins)

After dark London takes on a different form, when work, leisure and other activities diverge from daylight expectations. New sensibilities emerge and time and space are recalibrated. At night, sound bends towards the earth, flattening sonic perspective. Night-line pursues the nocturnal city from dusk to early morning, a place that gets in your head. Sometimes it is liberating, at other times a refuge. It is forever relentless and enveloping.

Programme 2

 

Leaving and Arriving, Lynn Loo (UK, 2017, 16mm digital transfer, colour, silent, 1 min)

This film was shot on the Isaburo-Shinpei train journey that runs between Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu stations, which passes through twenty tunnels as it zigzags up and down a mountain. Lynn Loo took a return ride on the train route, and shot the film when going into and out of the tunnels. The film captures scenery that combines the exterior and reflected interior of the train.

 

Animal Studies, Guy Sherwin (UK, 1998-2023, digital, b/w and colour, sound, 9 min)

Animal Studies is a set of films, and now digital video works, that focus on inconsequential animal movements. The processes that he has used to make them, which include looping, superimposition and affecting tonal contrast, often reveal hidden elements in the material as well as constructing a way of looking at the subject. The appeal of animals is that they are unselfconscious, authentic, and can’t act.

Strontium, Malcolm Le Grice (UK, 2021, digital, colour, sound, 9 mins)

The travelogue footage that appears here – landscapes rushing by, fragments of cityscapes, figures in cafés, forests, and beaches – is reminiscent of other videos made by Le Grice since the 1990s. The sense of foreboding is unique though. It comes across in the colours of the superimposed imagery: principally cold blues, a furnace-like orange and acid tones. The sound is similarly evocative. One might hear it as a rushing waterfall, a storm, or perhaps the sound of nuclear fallout, as suggested by the title.

 

Oxygen, Chris Welsby (Canada 2021, digital, colour, sound, 12 mins)

In this video, the shutter and aperture of the camera mimic the action of the leaves of a maple tree on a bright and blustery day in autumn. On the screen, shafts of sunlight appear and disappear as the breeze tugs at the ragged edges of leaves. The camera exposure system responds to these changes by shifting focus within the image. Meanwhile we are reminded of the less visible process by which the leaves convert this light into oxygen. The soundtrack is by Angelica Castello.

 

Not (a) part, Vicky Smith (UK, 2020, 16mm, b/w, sound, 6 mins) 

Numerous dead bees found on walks were positioned directly onto negative film and contact printed. Occupying approximately 24 frames they run at a rate of 1 bee per second. The length of the film is determined by how many specimens are found over a specified period of time. The project addresses the decline of flying insects globally.

Cornish and Faroese Knitting Pattern Series, Jennifer Nightingale (UK, 2016–17, 16mm, colour, silent, 4 mins)

This series of films uses a single-frame production technique to translate Cornish and Faroese knitting patterns. The films have been shot and edited on location in the fishing villages in Cornwall and the Faroe Islands where the patterns derive from. The production of the films creates a structural relationship between a stitch of knitted fabric and a frame of film. Gesture, landscape and film are ‘knitted together’ as a material object, re-embedding the patterns into the location that inspired them.

 

Clippy, Alia Syed (UK, 2016, 16mm/digital, b/w, sound, 3 mins)

A moving-image poem that includes the personal reminiscences of Mr Ghulam Rasul Tahir and Mr Mohammed Ali Azad who worked for the Glasgow Bus Corporation. Filming on the Dumbarton Road, in Glasgow, Syed was responding to a shot of a funeral cortege passing along the same street in 1969, which she found in the archives of BBC Scotland. An oral lament by Hardeep Deerhe responds to the traditional Scottish tune ‘When the Battle’s O’er’ and envelopes this haunting vignette. 

 

The Oblique, Jayne Parker (UK, 2018, digital, colour, sound, 11 mins)

The music, ‘Blues in B-flat’ by Volker Heyn, performed by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, provides the framework for The Oblique. The title comes from an instruction in the score: ‘oblique down stroke’ – a call to the cellist to use an oblique bow. In the film, branches of magnolia extend into the empty cavity of the cello, the space where sound resonates.

 

Intervals, Simon Payne (UK, 2023, digital, colour, sound, 10 mins)

Stripes of primary and secondary colours in lateral and inverse diagonal motion, subsequently layered, divided and doubled. ‘Intervals’ can be thought of as a break in activity, a gap in time, the difference in pitch between two sounds, the relationship between two colours etc.

 

Available Light, William Raban (UK, 2016, digital, colour, sound, 9 mins)

The complexity of the screen experience belies the apparent simplicity of the time-lapse compression of Marx’s Capital. The book could only be read/filmed during the hours of sufficient winter daylight. Some pages took longer than others to read and throughout the hours of filming regular breaks had to be taken because the studio was exceptionally cold. In these ways, the filmmaker’s agency impinged on an otherwise controlled mechanical system. David Cunningham’s minimalist soundtrack treads a similar fine line between simplicity and complexity to offset and complement the picture.

 

A State of Grace, John Smith (UK, 2019, digital, colour, sound, 3 mins)

Enigmatic diagrams and the artist’s poor hearing on a flight to Ireland trigger a radical interpretation of the airline’s safety instructions.

 

 

© Contact, 2024

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