Tagged: socialism

Marc Karlin – Patterns and Connections by film editor, Brand Thumin

 

Each film that Marc Karlin directed during the period in which I worked with him was on a grand scale, predominantly documentary in nature, and with strong poetic elements. Each was largely or completely financed by television. For me, the reasons why they were totally engrossing to work on are the same reasons why they are fascinating to look at now. The films were always about major subjects, always undertaken on account of something that Marc was deeply affected by, something that he became preoccupied with almost to the point of obsession, something he felt passionately about – never for any other reason.

 

 

He was constantly reflecting on what was going on around him and in the world at large. The TV series Holocaust, and the nature of its reception all over the world, appalled him and provoked him into thinking about the themes and ideas that were to become the subject of For Memory. While visiting Hermione Harris in Nicaragua, he was astounded by what he saw taking place there and this led him to make a series of four films of great clarity and complexity, four distinct parts of an epic whole. Then, back in Britain, came Utopias, Marc’s response to the endlessly repeated assertion that socialism was dead.

 

©The Marc Karlin Archive

©The Marc Karlin Archive

 

Marc was like an explorer. Each time he began work on one of these films he was like someone embarking on a journey, taking a group of people with him. Each collaborator was essential to the different stages of the journey. The films explored ideas, themes, histories, and physical realities. They drew portraits and told stories. They also explored the forms of documentary film, continuing and developing the work of the preceding films. Marc knew how to draw vital contributions from all his collaborators at every step of the way. He directed them, and at the same time demanded their input. He knew how to channel other people’s creative energies into the enterprise.

When we were editing together, he wanted me to contribute, rather than carry out his plan. He wanted me to bring my mind to bear on the material, on what the film proposed to accomplish, to do some of the exploring in that phase of the making of the film. He directed the editing in such a way as to draw me into doing this. The editing had to be both descriptive and reflective, it had to convey ideas and themes as much as it had to portray concrete realities. It had to allow the viewer to make multiple connections between these things. And it had to bring out the lyrical and sensual aspects of the images and sounds. The juxtaposing and interweaving required to achieve this is one of the things I enjoy most about editing, and as Marc and I had the same sense of what needed to be done, we worked together very harmoniously.

 

 

Looking at these films now, years later, it seems to me that one of the things that makes them so singular is this constant and multiple interconnecting and interrelating of ideas and individual concrete realities. Here are films with grand themes, in which the individual lives and characteristics of the people who appear in them have as much weight as the ideas they are related to, so that each contains vivid portraits of individual people. Marc was as passionate about individuals as he was about ideas, and this was evident at every stage of the making of these films. I was conscious of it during the editing and I can see it in the films now.

Watch the Marc Karlin Collection here

Marc Karlin – Look Again. Edited by Holly Aylett. Available here

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Brand Thumim worked as editor for Marc Karlin between 1980 and 1988 on the films For MemoryNicaragua parts 2, 3 and 4, and Utopias.  Brand Thumin’s filmography via BFI. 

BETWEEN TIMES: MARC KARLIN WEEKEND Fri 4 – Sun 6 March 2016 AV Festival, 2016

Whataboutsocialism

AV FESTIVAL 2016: MEANWHILE, WHAT ABOUT SOCIALISM?
Sat 27 February – Sun 27 March 2016

This weekend includes screenings of eleven films by Marc Karlin including talks and discussions in collaboration with the Marc Karlin Archive.

In the 1980s–90s Karlin’s work was persistent in its questioning of the future of the British Left. It takes us on journeys through socialism, political change and cinema itself, critiquing both Thatcherism and Blair’s New Labour. Undeterred by these fundamental societal shifts and the crippling confusion affecting the Left, Karlin invested himself in the continued exploration of socialist themes.

On his death in 1999, Karlin was described as Britain’s most significant, unknown filmmaker. Present in Paris around the events of May 1968 and inspired by the work of Chris Marker, Karlin submerged himself into London’s newly formed independent film collectives. Although informed by an international perspective, most of Karlin’s work focuses on the UK. An exception was the remarkable series of five films on the Nicaraguan revolution, presented in full here on Sun 6 March.

A Film Pass is available with special discounted tickets for all the weekend screenings. AV Festival

 

Meanwhile, What About Socialism? – AV Festival 27 Feb- 27 Mar/Part 1, 2016

AV FESTIVAL 2016: MEANWHILE, WHAT ABOUT SOCIALISM?
Sat 27 February – Sun 27 March 2016

Whataboutsocialism

Socialism was the most looked-up word in 2015. Largely attributable to the popularity of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party, it reflects a year of political alternatives becoming reality.

George Orwell’s polemical book The Road to Wigan Pier is the thematic framework for the next two editions of AV Festival. Eighty-years ago in 1936, Orwell was commissioned by the Left Book Club to write on the depressed areas of the North of England and spent two months living in the industrial North. The book is his account of working-class life amidst growing social injustice, poverty, unemployment and class division. The experience clarified his ideas about socialism, concluding that the basis for a democratic socialism is equality and fairness.

Mirroring the structure of the book the 2016 edition of the Festival is Part One followed by Part Two in 2018, representing a new way of curating a biennial Festival. AV Festival 2016 initiates this approach, presenting work by artists and filmmakers who situate themselves in relation to historic and contemporary political struggle, revolution and social movements, creating new forms of resistance to neoliberal capitalism.

Festival Director: Rebecca Shatwell, AV Festival

 

‘Utopias’ – Part 1. Opening Sequence A/V Script

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Utopias’ Treatment ©The Marc Karlin Archive

(Music) Edward Elgar-Cello Concerto in E minor

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V/O (Archive) Socialism is a very attractive idea and could remain a very attractive idea so long as there were not many,at best none, socialist governments.

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V/O (Archive) If you begin to tamper with economic freedom, you find it doesn’t work very well, therefore you have to go further and impose further controls on the economic activities in order to get the result you want. And in doing that you run up against increasing resistance from ordinary people and in order to beat down that resistance you have to limit their political freedoms too.

V/O (Archive) It is hard to access the damage the welfare state has done in Britain to the spirit of independence and social conventions that impel people to overcome their own poverty.

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V/O (Archive) Socialism and social democracy according to Schneider’s Objectivism beliefs soften the play of competition by forcing people to share their wealth with others through taxation.
 
V/O (Archive) I think greed, as a matter of fact, lead us by an invisible hand to a welfare state because the truly greedy man wants comfort and security, and he ordinarily partitions government to give it to him. The capitalist wants challenge and creativity.
 
V/O (Archive) You can compare practice to practice, there’s no competition. Capitalism is completely overwhelming socialism.

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V/O (Marc Karlin) The one crisis Socialists were not able to predict was their own. Socialism once thought of being inevitable is now replaced as a socialism that is remote, at best half remembered. Unable to state confidently a vision of the future, yet in the name of renewal and adaptation, impatient to shed its past.

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V/O (Marc Karlin) Everyone speaks about socialism as if we all know what it is –  for it or against it. When people are saying farewell to socialism, this is a film about what it is they are saying farewell to, a series of portraits of individuals and their ideas one might encounter on a journey through the life of socialism in Britain today.

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V/O (Marc Karlin) The film is not about definitions it is more an invitation to see whether there is still a place for the word us in the current political vocabulary.

Channel 4 broadcast ‘Utopias’ on Monday 1st May 1989 at 10.45pm.

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