Close Up

15 - 25 October 2019: Live Cultures


"Making a case against human superiority in the natural world, Live Cultures’ programme of experimental film and documentaries turns a nonhuman eye to the things which ooze, sprout, and crawl. This season offers viewers sublime, slimy reckonings with the environment – be it a speculation on the insect apocalypse, a forest-set horror emptied of human narrative, or a queer odyssey to a fertile paradise island. This four-part programme will culminate with the London premiere of Nathaniel Dorsky’s opus Arboretum Cycle, set entirely in the undergrowth of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Arboretum. As environmental doom looms, Live Cultures’ ecosystem of moving image aims to imagine what cinema could look like after our extinction, invoking nature’s utter indifference to our existence." – Ben Driscoll

Curated by Ben Driscoll as part of the Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA at the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

Programme 1: Sleep Has Her House

Sleep Has Her House, Scott Barley, 2017, 90 min
What Happens to The Mountain, Christin Turner, 2017, 10 min
Scene 13 - The Crow, Clara Pais and Daniel Fawcett, 2017, 10 min

Something takes over the forest as dusk settles in, the animals are astir, the wind howls with intent… Sleep Has Her House is a collision with the tenebrous and unknowable of the natural world. It’s an experimental film set deep within the blackest of forests: an eerie location that makes Antichrist’s cabin in the woods look like a top holiday destination. Preceded by two short films that also have sublime confrontations with the incommensurate, be it a gargantuan rock face or the maddening abyss of VHS static. read more

Programme 2: The Hellstrom Chronicle

The Hellstrom Chronicle, Walon Green, 1972, 90min

Equal measures monster movie, hoax, and nature documentary, The Hellstrom Chronicle takes us through the infernal microcosmos of the insect world, with gorgeous 70s-hued macrophotography and a dramatic, pre-ASMR sound design. Introduced by Dr Amy Cutlerread more

Programme 3: The Wild Boys

The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico, 2017, 110 min

Early 20th century La Réunion: five delinquent boys commit a ghastly crime at school. Their punishment? A mysterious disciplinary on a cruel captain’s ship. Yet when the boys arrive on the shores of a gorgeous paradise island, they succumb to the earthly delights of its unusually sexy, luxurious and sticky vegetation, leading to a metamorphosis that is less body horror more body ecstasy. read more

Programme 4: Arboretum Cycle

Arboretum Cycle, Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017, 137 min, 16mm

"I didn’t want to make a film that depicted a garden or plants or flowers, but one where the film itself became like a plant that could fill with light." Introduced by Ben Nicholson. read more

With thanks to NFTS for their support.