Film is a Weapon. Use it! Screening Series at the MayDay Rooms 22 Feb

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3rd Wednesday of the Month At MDR. 

MDR and Platform films has recently embarked on a large digitisation programme of 16mm film from the ’68 onwards, the collection included such gems of footage as Stokey Carmicheal’s speech in Camden, solidarity with hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, raw footage from cinema action, and many more we have not looked at yet!

In anticipation of this hefty haul of revolutionary AVI files we will be putting on monthly screenings of films that antagonise and document.

First Screening will be…

Cinema Action’s Viva Portugal! 

22.02
7-9pm

Viva Portugal was made by a group of French and West German journalists (the English version was assembled by cinema action), and traces the first year of the Portuguese revolution.

Besides documenting the political changes, from the overthrow of Caetano’s dictatorship to the failure of a right wing coup in March 1975 (largely because soldiers questioned their officers’ orders), the film deals with the effect of the revolution on the people. Factory and village committees, independent trade unions, are shown being set up; the plight of the farmworkers and the power of the anti-Communist Church are dealt with. It culminates with the occupation of an empty manor house, which is converted into a people’s hospital.

27th March, 7pm
Cuba, an African Odyssey (2007) 
explores how Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, gave critical support to Africa’s liberation movements. This influence was instrumental in advancing the decolonisation process, which brought independence to much of the continent. There will be Q&A with the filmmaker Jihan El Tahri after the film.

26th April, 7pm
The Hour of the Furnaces (La hora de los hornos 1968 Argentina 260 mins) 
Made in Argentina in 1968, this film established the paradigm of revolutionary activist cinema. ‘For the first time’, said filmmaker, Octavio Getino, ‘we demonstrated that it was possible to produce and distribute a film in a non-liberated country with the specific aim of contributing to the political process of liberation’.

24th May, 7pm
What Makes Alberto Pinto Angry (Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai, 1980)
 The story of a Mumbai mechanic’s journey from petit-bourgeois aspiration to solidarity with the striking textile workers. Set in industrial Mumbai in the lead up to the great textile strike of 1982, filmmaker Mirza, incorporates documentary footage as the backdrop to the film.

As part of the Film is a Weapon. Use it! series we will also be re-publish some of the material that we hold on the Film and Photography Leagues of the 1930’s- if you would like to get involved with this collection of material please contact rosemary [AT] maydayrooms.org

via MayDay Rooms

Une Femme Coquette – Jean-Luc Godard’s rarely seen short film now online

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Une Femme Coquette may not sound like anything special—a 9-minute no-budget short film, shot on a borrowed 16mm camera by a 24-year-old amateur with no formal film school training. But the short, which was the subject of our article “Neither lost nor found: On the trail of an elusive icon’s rarest film” back in 2014, has for decades been a sought-after item for art-house buffs and rare movie fiends. Filmed in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1955, it was the first attempt at a narrative film by the iconic French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard—a pivotal figure in the evolution of movie style, who would make his feature debut just five years later, with the hugely influential and perennially cool Breathless. 

Never distributed, Une Femme Coquette has had less than half a dozen public screenings since the 1960s; we were able to track down the only known 16mm print to a national film archive in Europe, where it was being stored unlisted for a private owner, to be loaned out only with the personal permission of Jean-Luc Godard himself. This makes it the holy grail of the game-changing New Wave era—a film so rare that it has often been listed as lost by biographies and film history books. And it might as well have been. No other surviving narrative film by a major, big-name director has been as difficult to see—until now.

Earlier this week, a copy of Une Femme Coquette surfaced on the digital back channels frequented by obscure movie enthusiasts. An enterprising user named David Heslin has uploaded this rarity of rarities to YouTube, complete with English subtitles. Credited to “Hans Lucas,” a German pseudonym that the Franco-Swiss Godard would sometimes employ during his brief career as a film critic, Une Femme Coquette was the budding director’s modern update of a Guy De Maupassant short story called “The Signal.”

via AV Club 

Cinema Novo documentary trailer

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Icarus Films has announced the acquisition of all North American rights to Eryk Rocha’s new feature documentary on the Brazilian film movement, which is also titled “Cinema Novo.” Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the “intricately edited” film combines film clips from the major works of the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement and period interviews with its leading filmmakers, including auteur filmmakers Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Carlos Diegues, Ruy Guerra, Leon Hirszman, Walter Lima Jr., Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Paulo César Saraceni, Jorge Bodanzky, Orlando Senna, and Glauber Rocha (father of the documentary’s director Eryk Rocha), as well as of singer Ava Rocha, whose music is featured in the film.

These notable, although mostly unknown (in the USA) filmmakers pushed boundaries with aesthetically bold films that used non-professional actors and low-budget production techniques to tackle social issues; films including “Black God, White Devil,” and “Ganga Zumba” (both previously highlighted on this blog), as well as “Barren Lives” and “Iracema.”

The distribution agreement was signed by Jonathan Miller, Icarus Films, and Sandro Fiorin, FiGa Films.

Watch a trailer for “Cinema Novo” below:

via Shadow and Act

Steve Sprung’s The Plan trailer – a film on the radical Lucas Plan

The Plan is directed by Steve Sprung, long time Karlin collaborator and former member of Cinema Action and Poster Film Collective. The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. It remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change.

Read more at The Lucas Pan 40th Anniversary

 

 

 

The Workshop Years: Black British Film and Video after 1981 at the Hammer Museum

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I’ve only just discovered this program of Black British Film and Video currently screening at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles named ‘The Workshop Years’. I’ve reposted the schedule and essay below. See more at the Hammer Museum

Independent black British filmmaking saw an increased urgency and viability in the aftermath of South London’s Brixton Rising in 1981. In many respects this event—part of a series of responses to police brutality, corruption, and racist policies aimed at undermining the rights of Britain’s black population—was the first of its kind to unfold within the context of the BBC’s nightly news.1 At an early moment in British television history, over the course of three days in April 1981, audiences were routinely exposed to images of dissenting blackness through the mediating lens of mainstream journalism; these images became inextricably linked to a series of representational codes that further underscored aspects of British society that had inherited and internalized systematic racial inequities. The depiction of black identity occasioned by the Brixton Rising was one of disorder, lawlessness, and rage—characterizations that continued in the months that followed with subsequent confrontations between protestors and police taking place in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and other cities.2

In November 1982, Channel 4 debuted on British television. Conceived, in part, in response to the narratives that had played out in mainstream news outlets, this new channel sought to provide innovative content and give voice to those marginalized in British society, with a greater emphasis on the needs of minority audiences.3 As part of this demand, Channel 4, along with the Greater London Council, dedicated production funds and helped to establish workshops to facilitate the making of film and video from and by these communities. Through new avenues of institutional support and the formation of “publisher-broadcaster” stations like Channel 4, filmmaking collectives and workshops such as Black Audio Film Collective, Sankofa Film and Video Collective, and Ceddo Film and Video Workshop were founded in the early part of the decade as alternatives to the dominant modes of representation in the UK. These groups, alongside others like Retake Film and Video that focused on Asian identity, addressed conditions of race and class that had otherwise been told from outsider perspectives.

Writing on the occasion of a program she organized at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in 1988, the artist and writer Coco Fusco argued, “The newly established workshops provided the infrastructure that, combined with racially sensitive cultural polices, created conditions […] to explore and question theoretical issues.”4 Films like John Akomfrah’s Handsworth Songs (Black Audio Film Collective, 1986) and Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien’s The Passion of Remembrance (Sankofa Film and Video Collective, 1986) positioned themselves at “the center of polemical debates in the mainstream and Black popular press that often do little more than bespeak critical assumptions about which filmic strategies are ‘appropriate’ for Blacks.”5 At the heart of these experimental approaches to filmmaking was a negotiation of so-called dominant images and an attempt to reconcile these with a newfound birth of visibility.

Though united by experimental approaches to narrative, the films produced by Black Audio Film Collective, Sankofa Film and Video Collective, and Ceddo Film and Video Workshop in the 1980s and 1990s reflect diverse and divergent concerns, forms, and aesthetics. Kobena Mercer has appropriately referred to this generation of “cinematic activists” as being engaged with the cultural struggle that takes place within the “domain of image-making” through self conscious cinematic strategies.6 In each instance, the individual filmmakers and voices that make up the collectives, workshops, and groups that formed in this tumultuous period in Britain’s cultural history give shape to an image of race otherwise mediated by outside entities. The films produced at the time, as part of Channel 4 and the race-relations industry it came to represent, offer insight into the real conditions, imaginary futures, and contested pasts that come to define race as a lived experience.

Notes
1. Sarita Malik, Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television (London: Sage, 2001), 85.
2. Ibid., 86.
3. Laura Mayne, “The Channel 4 Films of the 1980s: ‘A Worrying New Category,’” British Universities Film and Video Council, November 9, 2010, http://bufvc.ac.uk/2010/11/09/
the-channel-4-films-of-the-1980s-a-worrying-new-category
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4. Coco Fusco, “A Black Avant-Garde? Notes on Black Audio Film Collective and Sankofa,” in Young British and Black: A Monograph on the Work of Sankofa Film/Video Collective and Black Audio Film Collective (Buffalo, NY: Hallwalls, 1988), 9.
5. Ibid., 8.
6. Kobena Mercer, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge, 1994), 53.

via the Hammer Museum

SCHEDULE

January 3–7: Sankofa Film and Video Collective

Noon: Isaac Julien, Who Killed Colin Roach?, 1983. Super-8 video transfer, color, sound. 37 min. Courtesy of the artist.

12:45 p.m.: Martina Attille, Dreaming Rivers, 1988. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 33 min. Courtesy of the artist and Women Make Movies, New York.

1:30 p.m.: Isaac Julien, Territories, 1984. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 26 min. Courtesy of the artist.

2 p.m.: Maureen Blackwood, Perfect Image?, 1988. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 31 min. Courtesy of the artist and Women Make Movies, New York.

2:45 p.m.: Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien, The Passion of Remembrance, 1986. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound 78 min. Courtesy of the artists.

January 10–14: Ceddo Film and Video Workshop

Noon: Menelik Shabazz, Time and Judgement – A Diary of a 400 Year Exile, 1988. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 87 min. Courtesy of the artist.

1:30 p.m.: Milton Bryan, The People’s Account, 1986. Digital Betacam, color, sound. 52 min. Courtesy of the artist and Menelik Shabazz.

2:30 p.m.: Glenn Ujebe Masokoane, We Are the Elephant, 1987. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 52 min. Courtesy of the artist and Menelik Shabazz.

3:30 p.m.: D. Elmina Davis, Omega Rising: Woman of Rastafari, 1988. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 52 min. Courtesy of the artist and Menelik Shabazz.

January 17–25: Black Audio Film Collective

Noon: John Akomfrah, Handsworth Songs, 1986. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 58:33 min. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery.

1 p.m.: Reece Auguiste, Mysteries of July, 1991. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 54 min. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery.

2 p.m.: John Akomfrah, The Last Angel of History, 1995. Digital Betacam, color, sound. 45:07 min. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery.

3 p.m.: Trevor Mathison and Edward George, Three Songs on Pain, Light and Time, 1995. Digital Betacam, color, sound. 22:11 min. Courtesy of the artists and Lisson Gallery.

3:30 p.m.: John Akomfrah, Seven Songs for Malcolm X, 1993. 16mm film transferred to video, color, sound. 52:45 min. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery.

The Cinematologists Podcast Episode 37 – Essay Film Now

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The Cinematologists Podcast – Essay Film Now

For this episode, The Cinematologists were invited to cover the Arts Foundations Essay Film prize and an event they are hosting entitled Essay Film Now. Dario interviews the shortlisted filmmakers Charlie Lyne, Marianna Simnett, Samuel Stevens and Sarah Wood about their work and their thoughts on essay film as a cinematic and artistic practice. Dario also talks to the Art Foundation director Shelly Warren and with Sophie Mayer, a writer, poet and film critic about the history, political and philosophy underpinning the essay film as a form.

Interviews

Essay Film Festival Prelude 1: Videoletters. Stephen Dwoskin + Robert Kramer @Birkbeck_BIMI #essayfilm

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Video Letters
Stephen Dwoskin + Robert Kramer, France, 1991, Betacam SP or digital
Tickets £5.00

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

In the first Essay Film Festival Prelude we present the rarely screened series of video letters exchanged between the filmmakers Robert Kramer and Stephen Dwoskin made between February and June 1991.

Steve Dwoskin on the video letters: “It was more like writing, in that you didn’t have to involve anyone else in it. Not including editing was again like doing a written letter – you don’t really edit your letters when you write to friends – so the idea was simply to just do whatever we could in the camera.”

Robert Kramer on the video letters: “I used to spend a lot of time thinking about the letter, and where to start and how to do it. I would plan this whole thing out. There’s a lot of that feeling which does merge film and performance. I like the tension that’s in that situation and try and work it all out physically. It’s another way of thinking about mise en scene.”

Supported by Documentaire sur grand écran and LUX Artists Moving Image.

via Essay Film Festival