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21 April 2022: Film Talks Live: William Raban and John Smith


Film Talks Live is a series of events related to the book Film Talks: 15 Conversations on Experimental Cinema, published by Contact. This screening is a programme of two films each by William Raban and John Smith, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. In Film Talks their conversation, entitled ‘Made in London’, covers significant developments in their careers, a mutual interest in structural film processes and the coincidence of politics and the everyday in their immediate environment. Both Raban and Smith live and work in East London, a location which often features in their films.

Hackney Marshes - November 4th 1977
John Smith, 1977, 14'30 min

"An improvisation recorded over the course of one day, starting at dawn and finishing after dusk. The film was edited in camera and shot from one camera position in the middle of one of the 112 football pitches that covered Hackney Marsh, a location chosen because of the similarities between the surrounding buildings and objects. Unforeseen events occurring in the vicinity were also recorded, influencing the direction of the subsequent filming. Through selective framing and changes in cutting pace and speed of camera movement, the film fluctuates between record and abstraction." – John Smith  

About Now MMX
William Raban, 2010, 26’22 min  

"Shot from the 21st floor of the iconic Balfron Tower, the film takes in the city of London below. Filmed mostly in time-lapse with the camera tracking across this aerial field of view, the intention was to create a cinematic map that exposes the neural networks of the post-modern metropolis; producing a film that reveals the workings of London’s nervous system." – William Raban  

"Raban’s film is hardly optimistic, but he’s created here a new cognitive screen-map of what our gut instincts already tell us about the dehumanisation of the crapulent capitalism of the early 21st century, strangely beautiful for such an unsettling portrayal." – Michael Chanan

London Republic
William Raban, 2016, 2'22 min  

"Made in April 2016, two months before the UK referendum to decide on whether the UK should remain within or leave the EU, London Republic was made freely available on You Tube and Vimeo. Originally conceived as a political provocation that invited the audience to guess the outcome of the vote to decide London’s fate, London Republic has proved to be startlingly prescient of the UK’s vote to leave the EU and, perhaps, of the ultimate consequences." – William Raban  

John Smith, 2020, 16 min  

"Filmed from my window during the first English lockdown, Citadel combines short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to coronavirus with views of the London skyline. Recognising the government’s decision to place business interests before public health, it relocates the centre of power from Parliament to the financial district of the City of London. Presenting the city as a site of both horror and aesthetic beauty, the film documents the dramatic effects of changing light conditions upon its architecture. Shifting its focus from the city’s gleaming skyscrapers to the inhabitants of the dense urban housing that lies in their shadow, Citadel contrasts faceless corporate power with the particularities of individual lives." – John Smith