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25 October 2019: Arboretum Cycle


Arboretum Cycle
Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017, 137 min, 16mm
Introduced by Ben Nicholson

“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.” – Nathaniel Dorsky

"In 2017, experimental film legend Nathaniel Dorsky, creator of Devotional Cinema and rarely screened 16mm masterpieces, accidentally made a seven film cycle capturing the yearly lifespan of San Francisco’s Golden Gate arboretum. Finding inspiration in a plentiful spring after a five-year-long Californian drought, Dorsky found himself returning to the garden until the vegetation retreated for winter, making seven films investigating how light manifests in the undergrowth. Artfully manipulating his camera’s aperture to his and the garden’s mood, Dorsky sculpts the light and the plants it falls on. Over two hours of Dorsky’s mysticism and formal magic, Arboretum Cycle is said to have hallucinatory properties – as Max Goldberg of The Brooklyn Rail says: “it begins to feel that the forest is filming itself.” The first time to be screened in London, this silent 16mm cycle will be an unforgettable, ephemeral crop of films to behold." – Ben Driscoll

Ben Nicholson is a freelance film critic and editor of ALT/KINO. His words have been published by Sight & Sound, Little White Lies, MUBI Notebook, Dazed, BFI, ICA, Shelf Heroes, The Skinny, and CineVue. His own creative work often engages with notions of personal and collective memory, physical and imagined landscapes, and the natural world.

Part of Ben Driscoll's Live Cultures programme