Volume 4 | Issue 1 | Autumn-Winter 2008


Volume 4 - Issue 1 - Place and Purpose: The Moment of the Image

By Gareth Evans

Why a speculation on unexpected epiphanies to head up this issue’s editorial? Because, simply put, it summarises both an aesthetic and a political intention, one that Vertigo aspires to in philosophy and practice; always to remain porous in one’s relations to the world. Actively to be seeking and yet open to the uncontrolled. To pay attention. To glean widely, ever alert to the startle and the dazzle and the richly-hued, but always, open eyes and hands, with that ‘moral code’. That we are not alone in this pursuit is obvious. That we are only a small part of a network of committed gleaners is clearly apparent. For our role in the trajectory we have many to thank: as ever our contributors, as ever our readers, and those who share their fine wares with us. Somehow things continue; steps forward are still made. Things that matter continue to be defended. May it be so for some time yet to come.
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A Movie and Much, Much More: Iconic Artist Bruce Conner Remembered

By Jon Davies

Bruce Conner, who died in San Francisco on July 7th 2008, led more lives in his 74 years than most of us could begin to imagine. An unpredictable and inveterate trickster, he made sculptures, collages, films, prints, drawings, paintings, photos, light shows and even stood for political office.

The Filmmaker as Symbiont

By Manu Luksch | Mukul Patel

Filmmakers render aspects of nature, human activity and imagination visible. The documentary film continues to be a potent form in all its variety, from the personal video diary to ''objective'' fly-on-the-wall shoots, to the hybrid fact/fiction (''faction'') film.

The Life of a Vampyr

By David Rudkin

The lonely legendary figure of Dreyer haunts world cinema like a part-forgotten ancestor. Serious filmmakers know his presence; audiences (not their fault) hardly at all. To place him historically: born a year before Ibsen wrote Hedda Gabler, already a young journalist when Strindberg died...

Darkness Visible

By Jon Davies

Nightwatching is Peter Greenaway’s first feature film since the expansive database logic and the dizzying brilliance of his multimedia opus, The Tulse Luper Suitcases. Offering a relatively more straightforward narrative arc, Greenaway’s 2007 film bears many of the director’s hallmarks...

Pasolini and Sade: A Maleficent Obsession

By Stephen Barber

October 2008 marks the publication of the first new translation for 40 years (and the first-ever complete translation) of the Marquis de Sade’s legendary 120 Days of Sodom – ‘the book that dominates all books’, as Georges Bataille wrote, and a seminal inspiration for filmmakers from Luis Buñuel onwards.

The White Spirits: From Bolshevism to Belfast, a Work and Life in Progress

By Daniel Edelstyn

The story of my grandparents’ dramatic arrival in Britain wasted no time in establishing itself as the legend at the heart of our off-beat family identity. My grandmother Maroussia came from a fabulously wealthy Jewish family in the Ukraine before the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Moment by Moment by Moment: Reflections on Jonas Mekas’ 365 Films

By Tom Smith

Jonas Mekas is often referred to as the ‘godfather’ of American avant-garde filmmaking, having fulfilled numerous roles in promoting and cultivating experimental film in America. It is his own filmmaking, however, that should ultimately be seen to be his greatest contribution.

Holding Patterns and Long Tails: Benten Films and the Distribution of the Future

By Ben Slater

Founded by a pair of New York-based film critics, Andrew Grant and Aaron Hillis, Benten Films announced their existence a little over a year ago when they released the DVD of a film called LOL. An early instalment in a very loose movement of low-budget independent American titles...

The Cinema Effect

By Patrick Ellis

This spring, just out of earshot of the White House, Fay Wray screamed for some 700 hours. The occasion was a loop of Christoph Girardet’s masterpiece Suspension, a cut-up rendition of Wray’s squirms and howls from King Kong, given a giant projection at the Hirshhorn Museum on the Washington Mall.

Conflict Resolutions: Alexander Sokurov, Alexandra and the Survival of the Human

By James Norton

Alexander Sokurov recently visited London to accept this year’s ‘Time for Peace’ film award for his latest feature Alexandra. The prize is given to works which promote humanist ideals, and Sokurov’s film, with its moments of fragile peace grasped from the savage conflict in Chechnya, is a worthy winner...

Three Exercises in Symmetry: Marcel Carné and Filmic Formalities

By Dai Vaughan

The beginning and end of Hôtel du Nord, directed by Marcel Carné in 1938, are palindromic. The opening credits, backed by various images of canal activity, are followed by a sidelong shot of a footbridge across which two young lovers are entering frame left.

The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

By Mark Cousins

In August, in the North Eastern Scottish town of Nairn where she lives, Tilda Swinton and I put on a quirky wee community festival called the ‘Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams’. We named our days ‘½’ , ‘1 ½’, ‘2 ½’ etc. On our final day, 8 ½, we played Fellini’s film of the same name.

From Russia with Love

By James Norton

The omens are looking good for Quantum of Solace, the coming James Bond film. The film’s director Marc Forster contributes the concluding chapter, ‘What Would Tarkovsky Do?’ to the new critical collection Tarkovsky, claiming that he asks himself this question whenever presented with a directorial problem.

Youssef Chahine Remembered

By Sheila Whitaker

Jean Renoir once remarked that in the work of his Egyptian fellow film director Youssef Chahine, "reality is always enchanting". Chahine, who has died at the age of 82 following a brain haemorrhage, made more than 40 feature films: his work increasingly explored a not uncritical nationalism

Reading the Darkness

By James Rose

Throughout filmmaker Richard Stanley’s work there emerges a series of auteuristic concerns which have been built up and consolidated throughout his feature films and documentaries: a preoccupation with the Spaghetti Western and apocalyptic scenarios, the nomadic image of the Man with no Name...

The Main Course

By the Celluloid Liberation Front

If English-speaking audiences have managed to digest La Grande Bouffe and perhaps some audacious (celluloi)diners have tasted The Harem or Bye, Bye Monkey, they can now proceed with a more substantial course consisting of eight succulent ‘delicacies’ prepared by the chef in person, monsieur Marco Ferreri.

On a Street of Crocodiles: Channel 4 in an Age of Vision

By Clare Kitson

Channel 4 was set up by Act of Parliament in 1981, with a remit to innovate and to cater for audiences not already served by television. While advertising revenue was plentiful and there were only two commercial channels sharing the business, funding could easily be found for experimentation.

Arctic Dreams: Asif Kapadia, Far North and the Possibilities of Cinema

By Gareth Evans

One of Britain’s most distinctive filmmaking talents, Asif Kapadia established himself internationally with two award-winning films, The Sheep Thief and The Warrior, which immediately marked him out from the purveyors of the tunnel-vision urban realism that dominates this island’s cinema.

Desire and Sexuality – Animating the Unconscious

By David Surman

In the three volumes of Desire and Sexuality: Animating the Unconscious Jayne Pilling, the collection Editor and director of the British Animation Awards, has brought together a variety of visually striking and emotionally resonant animated shorts.

Attention: Benedek Fliegauf, Milky Way and a Cinema of Meditation

By John Bradburn

Benedek Fliegauf is one of the foremost filmmakers in the new wave of Hungarian Cinema. Working within the metaphysical traditions of Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr he is also a dedicated experimentalist within cinematic form, from the Dogme-informed intimacy of Forest...

On Civil Defence and the Staging of Modern Politics

By Patrick Wright

‘Acting is inevitable as soon as we walk out of our front doors and into society.’ So wrote Arthur Miller in his essay On Politics and the Art of Acting (Viking, 2001). ‘We are ruled more by the arts of performance – by acting, in other words – than anybody wants to think about for very long.’

Marine Court Rendezvous: Sketches in Space and Time

By Iain Sinclair

Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea is a period survival, a gaunt remnant from the age when concrete was king. It was once the tallest residential structure in Britain. In a promotional brochure of 1938 it was described as a ‘Hymn to the Sun’.

Between Land and Sea: Art and the Bigger Picture

By Steven Ball

Over the tracks, over the flats, down past the coast road, past the beach, through the haze and spray, a red light flashes. On and off. Off, off and on: The sea is getting warmer.

The Western Lands: Proposals towards a Film

By Grant Gee

The Western Lands is a 70 minute film-essay on love, loss and landscape. An autobiography in 12 landscapes under 12 sunsets. 12 film sequences under the dying of the light. 12 natural fades to black… 11 cuts back to light again.

Distress Signals: Text for a Short Film

By James Riley

I go there for the quiet and to see the rows of empty signs.

Photographers mix with visitors trying to capture its abstract structures.

Germany and England / England and Germany: Proposal for a Film, June 2008

By Chris Petit

Most contemporary cinema doesn’t really cover the world we drive through or explore the phenomenon of driving: the state of driving and driving’s state of mind, the road and going on the road, logging our daily landscapes, the stuff against which we unconsciously measure ourselves...

Kate Adams: Feeling and Knowing

By Catherine Elwes

Facing out to sea like a majestic ocean liner, the restored Modernist masterpiece that is De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill is first and foremost an architectural statement. It is about space – managed architectural space but also about social space and how it is used both by communities and individuals.

Little White Feather and the Hunter

Following an encounter with a lute-playing anthropologist Pocahontas enthusiast in Essex, UK last summer, artist Anna Lucas travelled around Virginia, USA in the autumn of 2007 suing the local legendary figure of Pocahontas as a virtual guide.

Cobra Mist: Emily Richardson and the Legacy of Orford Ness

By Will Stone

Following the success of her short film Petrolia set in the oilfields of the Cromarty Firth, filmmaker Emily Richardson directs her camera south to the loneliest stretch of the East Suffolk coast at Orford Ness, a remote shingle spit that was once a top secret military testing site, now long abandoned to the elements.

The Temporary Autonomous Zone

The Temporary Autonomous Zone “is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the state, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere / elsewhen, before the state can crush it.”

Volume 4 - Issue 1 - Autumn-Winter 2008

This issue is dedicated to the memory of filmmakers Humberto Solas, Youssef Chahine and the film critic/painter Manny Farber, all of whom showed us how to see the world differently, all the better to imagine the possibilities of change.

“We have embarked…” from Wings of Desire

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor
: Nancy Harrisson
Original Website
: Chris Lane
Publication Manager
: Nancy Harrisson
Online Editor
: Robert Chilcott
Original Print Design
: Tomasz Zarebski assisted by Stephanie Bergmann and Nadia Jin

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evans, Nick Haeffner, James Leahy, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley, Anne Robinson, Sheila Whitaker

Printed by: Cambrian Printers Ltd.

With Special Thanks to
: Bad Idea magazine, Peter Chappell, Curzon Cinemas, Antonia Hazelrigg (UKFC), Steve Hills, Ajay Hothi (ACE), Clare Kitson, Julie Lomax (ACE), Jonas Mekas, Mehelli Modi (Second Run), Benn Northover, Onagono, Gautham Ravindran, Jill Reading (BFI), Damien Sanville, Sylvia Stevens, Verena von Stackelberg.

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance from: Arts Council England, UK Film Council