Close Up

2 June 2016: Miranda Pennell: People in Motion, People at Rest

Part of their new strand of screenings at Close-Up, Filmarmalade presents a programme of moving image work by artist filmmaker Miranda Pennell.

Miranda Pennell originally trained in contemporary dance and later studied visual anthropology. Pennell has produced a body of award-winning film and video work that explores forms of collective performance, whether dancers, soldiers or fight directors. Her most recent moving-image work uses colonial archives as the starting point for investigations into the colonial imaginary. Her award-winning video Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (2010) is published on DVD by Filmarmalade.

This programme brings together both early and recent works, and the evening will also include Pennell’s latest film The Host.

You Made Me Love You
Miranda Pennell
2005 | 3’36 min | Colour | Digital

Twenty-one dancers play a game of cat and mouse with an unpredictable camera. Disoriented, the viewer is fixed by the gaze of dancers who crowd the frame.

Miranda Pennell
2001 | 9 min | Colour | Digital

Trees and wildlife look-on as the countryside is invaded by a lost regiment of soldiers engaged in a repetitive display. The ritual of military drill is by turns absurd and sinister. The soldiers of the Light Division perform a choreography that has been perfected and aestheticized in order to serve a function: to be effective. That is, the dual function of transforming many bodies into a single body, and of mesmerizing onlookers with their "stunning" unity.

Miranda Pennell
2004 | 11 min | Colour | Digital

Six actors punch, kick and wrestle their way through the Wild West of an East London drinking establishment. The ritual of the Western bar-brawl, is re-located to a London working men's club. The violence appears to have no consequences, the actors’ bodies being as rubbery and invulnerable as those in the TV Westerns that inspired the film.

Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed
Miranda Pennell
2010 | 28 min | B/W | Digital

Triggered by the memoirs of a medical missionary on the Afghan borderlands, Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed reworks archival images of colonial life on the North West frontier of British India at the turn of the 20th century. Searching for clues to the realities behind images framed during a time of colonial conflict, the film plays sound against image to uncover striking continuities in Western portrayals of a distant place and people.

The Host
Miranda Pennell
2015 | 60 min | B/W | Digital

While investigating her late parents' involvement with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known as BP) filmmaker Miranda Pennell comes across the letters of a petroleum geologist in Iran in the 1930's, who later embarked on a search for the origins of civilization. The film sets out on its own exploration to decipher signs from the fragmented images buried in the BP archive. This journey through images of the past interweaves stories drawn from personal memory and from the records of an imperial history, gradually building a picture of a 20th century colonial encounter. The Host is about the stories we tell about ourselves and others, the facts and fictions we live by – and their consequences.

Total duration ca. 110 min with intervals

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