Friday, April 26, 2013

CHUMLUM @ Black Sun

And when we rend the veil
With the veil-ending wail
There exists unbound
Disintegrating into sound
Into light and sound
Hear them sing 

The penultimate Black Sun event is coming up on May 4th at the Triskel, Cork, and it's going to be a very special one. I doubt anyone who was fortunate enough to be present when Daniel Higgs played at Black Sun a couple of years back has forgotten that extraordinary experience. Well... he's back!

And so are Woven Skull, a band I always truly love to hear.

And the films...

In Deference to the Squeamish I (Willie Stewart, 2013)

This haunting track from Divil A’ Bit’s upcoming album is graced with an exceptionally lyrical and eerily delicate music video that entices viewers into a discreetly experimental woodland reverie. Music by David Colohan, Natalia Beylis and Willie Stewart.

Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964)

Ron Rice, director of the influential beatnik romp The Flower Thief (1960), has been called “the great tragic figure of the ‘60s underground film scene”. He completed only a handful of films before his death at age 29, but the playfully gorgeous androgynous swoon Chumlum (1964), starring Jack Smith and featuring a score by Angus MacLise (ex-Velvet Underground), remains emblematic of early ‘60s New York experimental filmmaking at its most dizzyingly creative. Shot on breaks between takes on pioneering gay underground icon Smith’s film Normal Love, it captures Smith’s cast in their full ‘Arabian Nights’ regalia decadently draped in hammocks, their bodies layering up and intertwining like the exquisite superimpositions of images Rice employs throughout. Bodies, fabrics, colours, images blend and blur into a hypnotic erotic reverie that encompasses the mind and senses like a delicate but inescapable net of the finest lace. Amongst the ‘flaming creatures’ on display in the cast are Barbara Rubin (director of the sexually graphic experimental classic Christmas on Earth) and Warhol superstar Mario Montez.

All of yesterday’s parties seem to have exploded in the air… A hallucinatory micro-epic […] and one of the great “heroic doses” of ’60s underground cinema, a movie so sumptuously and serenely psychedelic it appears to have been printed entirely on gauze… Chumlum [manages] to capture with unnerving fidelity the murky glories, the sudden temps morts and temps mutant, not to mention the inevitable malaise of a rich but fading high.”

-Chuck Stephens, Cinema Scope 54

Vicky Langan has posted a couple of absolutely delicious Ron Rice and Jack Smith related links over at the Black Sun Facebook page:

So if you're anywhere near Cork on the 4th, please come along. The clock is now ticking on Black Sun, this extraordinary "Cork institution" (Rachel Warriner) that Vicky unleashed four short years ago and which she has been curating and sustaining ever since...

Monday, April 22, 2013

HSP 100

Rouzbeh Rashidi has just completed Homo Sapiens Project 100. This 82-minute installment of his ongoing series of experimental films is constructed around a filmed interview with me and concerns my filmmaking. Of course, Rouzbeh makes some very surprising choices in his approach to the subject and the result is more a poetic essay film than a documentary. It's humbling to be the subject of such attention.   

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

DIRT on 'The Wire'

Dirt is getting quite a bit of exposure at the moment. This phantasmagoric portrait of Wölflinge is now being hosted on The Wire magazine's website, to tie in with their recent interview with Vicky Langan. It contains footage of some truly mesmerising performances by Vicky, so please check it out if you haven't already done so.

Monday, April 08, 2013


Happy to announce that Dirt will be screened in this year's Australian International Experimental Film Festival, elegantly categorised in their lineup in the 'Questions of Beauty, The Question of Divinity' programme.

For a look at the full programme:

Friday, April 05, 2013

Experimental Conversations 11 Online

Experimental Conversations enters its fifth year with an issue that contains writing from many of the contributors who’ve been with the magazine from the beginning, defining it as it developed and found not so much its own voice as its multiple voices.

Fergus Daly has written a piece about ‘method viewing’ that challenges notions of cinephilia as a passive condition, arguing that it can also be ‘a peculiar kind of resistance to the System’.

We are privileged to publish the first English translation of an extract of Esperanza Collado’s book Paracinema, The Dematerialization of Film in Artistic Practices.

Gianluca Pulsoni takes an intriguing look at how performance translates to film and video with reference to Aldo Tambellini, Cinema of Transgression and Kaia Hugin.

Tony McKibbin reflects on Truffaut’s underrated Anne and Muriel and I profile Bosnian poet-filmmaker Saidin Salkic, as well as offering some enthusiastic thoughts on Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem. Chris O’Neill conducts an in-depth interview with maverick director Buddy Giovinazzo.

In addition, there are the latest installments of two ongoing projects: the wide-ranging survey of current Thai alternative cinema, Mysterious Objects From Thailand; and David Brancaleone’s ambitious study of legendary screenwriter and theorist of neorealism, Cesare Zavattini, the full extent of whose work and influence remains paradoxically little known, especially outside Italy.

Also, the magazine has finally embraced social media! Probably not something that its notoriously Facebook-shy editor - me - would ever have got around to doing. But, fortunately, he is blessed with wise friends who took the initiative and now Chris O'Neill is running the EC Facebook page and Vicky Langan is taking care of things on Twitter. A big thank you to both!  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Jess Franco (1930-2013)

Last week Rouzbeh Rashidi, Vicky Langan and I were in Limerick for a public discussion of our work. At one point, Rouzbeh went on record with these words: "It has become clear that we want to make films like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, not like Tarkovsky or Bresson."

One of the works we showed on the programme that night was Dirt, which Vicky and I dedicated to Lina Romay, Franco's star, wife and muse, on the occasion of her death last year.

When, on hearing of Franco's death today, I visited the round-up of tributes at Catherine Grant's site, the first thing I saw were my own words on the screen before me:

Serge Daney distinguishes between love of cinema and passion for cinema. The latter state concerns the expressive evolution and refinement of the art, typified by the work, one might suppose, of such singular giants as Godard, Dreyer and Garrel. Love of cinema, on the other hand, is fetishistic, stemming from contentment with the medium as it already is. In the acceptance speech [Jess] Franco made on receiving his honorary lifetime achievement Goya award this February [2009], he described himself as simply ‘a man in love with cinema'. Perhaps nowhere better than in Jess Franco's oeuvre is ‘love of cinema' embodied. Yet complacency is hardly the first quality one associates with Franco's often defiantly free, personal and gloriously extreme riffs on familiar B cinema patterns. The fevered mirror he holds up to cinema reveals not a static museum of ossified formulas but a rich arsenal of figurative possibilities. Jess Franco is cinema- cinema in all its crassness, vulgarity, brutality, puerility, vitality, invention, wonder, joy, eroticism, poetry, violence, bizarreness, obsessiveness, mystery. And, of course, addictiveness.

At least three of my videos contain found footage echoes of Franco's films.

I am a man haunted by- sometimes even tormented by- Jess Franco's cinema.

May he rest in peace, having left behind him so many beautiful ghosts.