Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Reflections on 2011 Published in 'Lumiere'

The following text, a look back on 2011, has just appeared in the excellent Spanish journal 'Lumiere', alonsgide contributions by, amongst others, Nicole Brenez, Nathaniel Dorsky, Monte Hellman, Luc Moullet, Oriol Sánchez and Phil Solomon. Rouzbeh Rashidi very kindly lists the Dublin Operation Rewrite exhibition by Esperanza Collado and me in first place on his list of favourite films/film events of last year.

A couple of years ago, I stopped making end-of-year film lists. Cinema’s abundance overwhelmed chronology. Any attempt to summarize must include not only recent films/events and older films, but also the rich, ever-developing skein of revelations, situations and (especially collaborative) relationships that attend the overlapping activities of filmmaking, programming and writing. The division of these into blocks of twelve months makes as little sense to passing experience as claiming that The Bank Dick is older than Dharma Guns, both unquestionable masterpieces seen over the past year, or that the series of astounding and all but unscreened features made by my friend Rouzbeh Rashidi throughout 2011/’12 is less 'visible' than Copie conforme. I’m perfectly happy not to see the wood for the trees. There is no need to pursue cinema; once it has identified you, it seeks you out…

Births and rebirths of films that come to claim you. Maybe I should use this opportunity to talk about the two astonishing features by German actor Mario Mentrup that I saw through a series of chance connections in recent weeks. Or about Miroslav-Bata Petrović and Julijana Terek’s sublime cry of defiance Personal Discipline (1983), a little-known film currently burning in my brain, one I’m screening here in Cork this weekend, a modest 'rebirth' ritual… Or about ‘my’ work, the films and videos reality sees fit to allow me to make, the invaluable, enriching, often mysterious interaction with collaborators, with performer Vicky Langan, with artist Esperanza Collado, with Rouzbeh Rashidi… Films, exhibitions, performances. Cinema. Life.

But the wheel’s stopped spinning and the arrow points to 'In The Mouth of the Volcano', a retrospective of Lithuanian experimental film of the past thirty years that took place in Dublin last December. Curated by Alan Lambert and Arturas Jevdokimovas, with the participation of Julius Ziz, it was a collaboration between the Tinklai Film Festival and Dublin’s Solus collective. Over a marathon, four-hour-plus projection in the sparsely attended basement screening room at Dublin’s Filmbase, a solid block of film history formed before our eyes: Valdas Navasaitis’ The Spring, Arunas Matelis’ Ten Minutes Before the Fall of Icarus, Algimantas Maceina’s The Black Box, Audrius Stonys’ Earth of the Blind, the abstract films of August Varkalis… Great films we hadn’t heard of, altering our cinematic map. And not couched in a festival context, manifesting instead as a self-contained phenomenon of monumental surprises. With all the careless, heartbreaking generosity of truly alternative events…


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