Saturday, December 20, 2014

Close Watch Signing Off

A Happy Christmas to all who read these lines!

Close Watch is signing off now until 2015.

This is a creative time at Close Watch HQ. A new, still as yet untitled collaboration with Vicky Langan that we have been shooting piecemeal since Summer is now almost edited. It stars both of us, along with Java the Cat, and promises to be a playful, bizarre piece of work, and quite a departure for us in tone and content. I've also submitted material to be used in the next few installments of Rouzbeh Rashidi's Homo Sapiens Project, which will be made as collaborations between Rouzbeh, Dean Kavanagh and myself.

And, of course, there's the feature Cloud of Skin. Additional shooting will be completed in early January and editing will be the main task of the first half of next year.

There are also several exciting screenings and events lined up for early 2015 which I'm involved in either as filmmaker or programmer. Watch this space!

To take a moment to digest, I was asked for a list of favourite new films of 2014. From the smattering of new releases I saw, I came up with a top ten listed in order of preference. I didn't get to any festivals this year, so these films either played in my local cinemas or were shown to me by the filmmakers.

Return of Suspicion (Dean Kavanagh)
Polar Nights (Dean Kavanagh)
Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara)
Hypothesis/Conditions/Poetics (a trilogy by Rouzbeh Rashidi)
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)
Mutual Admiration Society (James Devereaux/Rouzbeh Rashidi)
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
There (James Fotopoulos)
The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones)
Bastards (Claire Denis)

Since making the list, I caught up with Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, which should be added to it. Perhaps in eighth place. I should also mention two extraordinary TV series that I devoured whole: Hannibal and Boardwalk Empire. And a couple of marvelous Irish short films: Vivienne Dick's The Irreducible Difference of the Other and Michael Higgins' Murder

And, of course, this Youtube clip:

Finally, I'd like to sign off with a word of sincere thanks to Rouzbeh Rashdi. His indefatigable work at the head of Experimental Film Society has transformed that entity into an effective distribution mechanism to the considerable and steadily increasing benefit of all members. And the moral support of his friendship is beyond valuation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The following exciting news from Experimental Film Society HQ:

Thanks to a collaboration with Parking Gallery & Limited Access Festival, EFS is pleased to announce its first public screenings in Iran since 2004. Rouzbeh Rashidi, head of EFS, will be represented by his 2012 feature Structures, Machines, Apparatus and Manufacturing Processes. There will also be a programme of short works by EFS members from all over the world, encapsulating the range and radical vision of this unique group of filmmakers. Their films are distinguished by an uncompromising devotion to personal, experimental cinema and have in common an exploratory approach to filmmaking where films emerge from the interplay of sound, image and atmosphere rather than traditional storytelling techniques.

Programme One: EFS Short Films: 

1 - Incubus (2013) By Atoosa Pour Hosseini / Ireland & Switzerland / 1:30mins

Incubus is a highly saturated nightmarish unsettling video work that explores unconsciousness nature of memory and its relationship with moving image.

2 - Les Yeux Disparus (2012) By Bahar Samadi / France / 10mins

Found film and archival sound clips recount part of a life, pieces of the past of a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s. As with the illness, the film’s language, borne of its archival source, lacks continuity. The filmmaker reveals the fear of death when we are no longer able to recognize those around us.

3 - Pitpony (2014) By Jason Marsh / UK / 4mins

Sombre, wandering and intrusive thoughts.

4 - The Illuminating Gas (2012) By Esperanza Collado / Spain / 7:30mins

Specially conceived for its presentation in performance contexts, The Illuminating Gas is an ephemeral, collage film in which cinema is derailed and subject of stitching. The piece exploits the unique instability of film, which makes it performative in nature, as if the film itself and its indispensable support, the projector, were performers playing a limited role within the wider presentation.

5 - Homo Sapiens Project (186) (2013) By Rouzbeh Rashidi / Ireland / 1min

The 186th film in Rashidi’s ongoing Homo Sapiens Project, HSP (186) evokes, like much of his prolific output, the atmospheric unease and suspense of horror cinema removed from its contextual and narrative confines.

6 - Murder (2014) By Michael Higgins / Ireland / 5mins

An Unlawful Killing of a Human by Another Human with Malice Aforethought or Murder.

7 - Late Hours of the Night (Part 5) (2013) By Dean Kavanagh / Ireland / 24mins

Late hours of the Night is a 5 part mini-series that follows a character as he recreates and re-enacts old memories while crawling through a small town at night. The fifth and final instalment is a confrontational exploration of personal history, and a hypnotic drift through nocturnal semi-hallucination.

8 - Night Regulation (2014) By Maximilian Le Cain / Ireland & USA / 25mins

The last ghost in New York, all on permanent vacation. Saw it myself. Starring Vicky Langan.

9 - Turtle (2011) By Hamid Shams Javi / Iran / 9mins

A mysterious and disturbing image of contemporary alienation in which the everyday is rendered bizarre and intolerable.

Total Running Time 87mins

Programme Two: An EFS Feature Film: 

Structures, Machines, Apparatus and Manufacturing Processes (2012) By Rouzbeh Rashidi / Iran & Ireland / 93mins

As in a number of his recent films, Rashidi uses images accumulated over years to explore memory and cinematic form. In this case, he creates an elaborate and haunting montage that mainly interrogates still images.

Total Running Time 93mins

More info HERE

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Les Hautes Solitudes

I know what I like! Philippe Garrel's Les Hautes Solitudes (1974) would be the single greatest film in cinema history - if it weren't for Garrel's Berceau de Cristal (1976) which really is the greatest film ever made.

Now Les Hautes Solitudes has been released on DVD by Re:Voir. I contributed an essay to the accompanying booklet.

Find out more here!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vicky Langan @ Cafe OTO Online

Video documentation of Vicky Langan's profoundly haunting recent performance at Cafe OTO in London is now online here. And Fergus Daly's reflections on this video can be read here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A Whole Lotta Love at LFU

The latest print edition of the wonderful, multilingual film journal La Furia Umana has a lot of familiar people in its 'Love Letters' section, where contributors are asked to write a letter to a figure from cinema they admire, past or present...

Jodie Mack writes a 'love letter' to my longtime collaborator Esperanza Collado on the occasion of seeing one of her recent performances...

I write a 'love letter' to Jean Rollin, detailing my indebtedness to his wild and wonderful filmmaking...

And Rouzbeh Rashidi kindly addresses his letter to... eh... me. Words fail me!

To order a copy, follow this link.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Giulio Questi (1924-2014)

Monday, December 01, 2014

End of 2014 EFS Update

This round-up of recent Experimental Film Society goings-on, including Bahar Samadi and Navid Salajegheh's beautiful performance Non-Pacific Coexistence of Numbers and Dates that took place in Cork last night, has been issued by EFS HQ:

The past few weeks have been quite a hectic time for Experimental Film Society. We presented film programmes in IndieCork Film Festival, Cork Film Festival, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, and organized a number of international screenings. One of the final EFS activities this year was held last night at The Guest House, Cork. Bahar Samadi and Navid Salajegheh closed their residency with “Non-Pacific Coexistence of Numbers and Dates”, a truly unique and spectral performance that was the culmination of much hard work and research. We’d like to thank Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Mick O'Shea, Irene Murphy, Jann Clavadetscher, Vicky Langan, and many others for their tremendous support and involvement in facilitating these events. EFS activities in 2014 will conclude with a screening in Tehran in December. We will return in 2015 with screenings in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany and many other places. Also keep an eye out for two new feature films heading your way, as both “Cloud of Skin” and “Ten Years in the Sun” will be completed over the coming months! - Rouzbeh Rashidi