Volume 2 | Issue 3 | Summer 2002


Volume 2 - Issue 3 - Editorial

This issue of Vertigo, assembled with the desire to explore and celebrate the various landscapes of that elusive territory known as ‘cultural diversity’, comes at a time when an openness and generosity to difference itself is under threat across Europe and beyond. Whether in Israel and Palestine, Kashmir, the French presidential elections or disturbing policy entrenchments in numerous Parliaments of the North, institutional prejudice, historical revisions and galvanised populist xenophobia appear to be undermining the once well-heeled aspiration to a global commonwealth of mutually co-habiting and respected systems, be they cultural, social or faith-based.
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A Chain Letter to the Future

By Kieron Corless

In the last 16 years, Jem Cohen has produced a dazzlingly varied body of work; he’s probably best-known to music fans for his hypnotic videos accompanying several REM singles and for Instrument, a typically multi-textured, impressionistic portrait of the hardcore band Fugazi.

A Lasting Light

By Pat McCarthy

Amber came together in London in 1968, the original members moving to the North East of England the following year. There was no regional funding at the time and limited independent access to television and the film industry.


By Michael Chanan

According to a recent article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Israeli filmmakers are caught in a bind. To succeed internationally they must make movies that deal with either the Holocaust or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, topics which local television prefers to avoid.

Bend it Like Bollywood

By Nasreen Munni Kabir

Director of Oscar-nominated film Elizabeth and the controversial Bandit Queen, Shekhar Kapur collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on his latest musical. Bombay Dreams recreates Bollywood on stage with some of the Indian film industry’s finest talents...

Box of Illusions

By Elizabeth Wood

Last December, as part of its series on the state of documentary in Europe, Dox magazine invited me to cast a critical eye on the documentary output of a week on British television. I used my invitation to investigate these opposing standpoints.

Celluloid Singapore

By Ben Slater

Suspended from Malaysia’s southern tip, Singapore, like the UK, is an island-nation profoundly influenced by the larger countries in the neighbourhood, yet also separated from them in crucial ways.

Crisis Response: Views from Underground Zero

By Thomas Logoreci

For San Francisco filmmakers Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi, the curation of a series of filmic responses to the events of September 11 couldn’t have come personally at a more inopportune moment.

Dead Pan

By Mike Sperlinger

Ian Breakwell is surprised when people call his new film Variety ‘bleak’: "I don’t really see it like that. When it seems to be at its most desperate is, in a strange kind of way, when it’s, in the true sense of the word, at its most comic – I don’t necessarily mean funny, but comic."

Documentary on the Move

By Amy Hardie

DocSpace, DocHouse and the Documentary Filmmakers Group, three independent initiatives which have gained enormous support, are coming together to form an independent documentary network dedicated to promoting documentary, setting up an archive and data base, supporting young docs-makers...

For Cannes or Abidjan?

By Holly Aylett

I studied cinema at school, directed three shorts, then 1968 arrived and I entered into politics for about fifteen years… It was such a powerful experience that by the end of it I had an irresistible desire to be independent, to keep involved in world affairs in whatever modest way, and above all never to get bored.

Fragments from Zeroville

By Chris Darke

As the lift sank silently towards sub-level five Danny Lampman considered the news. The lifts in the DREAM building were all mirrored within and rather than observe his own reflection curving off to infinity, Danny carried something with him to read.

Home Movie

By Ben Walters

The idea of home – a sense of belonging and a stake in something larger than the individual – is central to the film culture currently developing amongst the Turkish and Kurdish communities around Dalston, Hackney in north-east London.

I’m Spartacus!

By Catherine Fowler

In the last issue of Vertigo Chris Dercon suggested that we now need to ask not ‘what is cinema’, but ‘where’ is cinema, since film’s inclusion in museums and galleries means that “cinema is everywhere”. I am reminded of this comment on opening the home page of the website for...


By Gwynn Pritchard

Input remains one of the best kept secrets on the calendar of international moving image events. If the festival has one guiding principle, it is the complete rejection of the notion that television has either to be “cultural” or “popular”, the kind of thinking which in the UK has led to BBC4 on the one hand and BBC1 on the other.

No Rest ’Til Zanzibar

By Kieron Corless

The notion of an ‘underground’ seems debased today thanks to the word’s casual application and the rapidity with which marginal practices become assimilated into the mainstream. Which is why the so-called Zanzibar films, screened at the ICA in spring this year, arrived like a bolt out of the blue...

Pride and Prejudice

By Julie McNamara

When it comes to representation on film, disabled people are frequently fodder for the fetishist or the plastic surgeon. Too often the focus is on the tragic but brave survivors of grotesquerie. The power of the gaze, or in some cases, the intrusive glare, is firmly located with non-disabled voyeurs.

Putting it on the Map

By Alex Usborne

As a producer I’ve always tried to use the advantages of working regionally – a connection to place that gives stories a heart and soul; a sense of distance and space that allows ideas and stories to develop at their own speed with distinctiveness and originality.

Split Screen

By Chris Darke

Before we all get thoroughly bored and Brit-cynical over the ‘is it art, is it cinema?’ debate, let’s consider the example of Eije-Liisa Ahtila. Throughout the 1990s, the 43 year-old Finnish artist has produced a striking body of work that crosses the borders separating the gallery, cinema and television.

Tall Stories, Bottom Lines

By Ben Woolford

There is a particular kind of thrill when the lights go down in the auditorium and you are one of three or four expectant souls settling in for the duration of an obscure, esoteric film. Somehow you feel as special as you hope the film will be.

Telling Visions: Pictures from Palestine

By Daoud Kuttab

In April Israeli soldiers destroyed almost 50 Palestinian TV and radio stations – levelling an independent broadcasting base which was unique in the Middle East.

Waving, Drowning or Back Crawl?

By Janet Harbord

What does ‘national’ cinema mean in an age of globalisation, and why is British film culture shying away from the compelling questions of our time? Alan Parker confides, ‘Sometimes with the UK film industry it’s hard to know if we’re waving or drowning’.

What Are We For?

By Robert Chilcott

Take a cursory glance at any page of the Western Mail, and in even the minor articles, the words ‘Wales’ or ‘Welsh’ are printed, asserted, screamed. Prior to the mid-90s release of House of America, director Marc Evans and writer Ed Thomas both claimed a weariness and futility regarding ‘state of the nation’ debates...

For a Cinema...

By Marc Karlin

For a cinema that will unfreeze that icy and now constant experience of being addressed only as a social construct for the benefit of the market; a cinema where the tension between a world that is being illustrated and a world that is being illuminated can make us live again in that dream-state...

Volume 2 – Issue 3 – Summer 2002

Managing Editor:
Holly Aylett
Editors: Gareth Evans, Holly Aylett
Editorial Assistant: Ben Walters
Events Producer: Di Robson
Events Assistant: Vincente Luna

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Yossi Bal, Michael Chanan, Robert Chilcott, Kieron Corless, Margaret Dickinson, Gareth Evans, Sylvia Harvey, James Leahy, Ruth Lingford, Julian Petley, Felicity Sparrow, Sarah Turner, Nick Walker

Editorial Advisors: Gill Branston, South Wales; Don Coutts, Glasgow; Judith Higginbotham, South West England; Sara McCarthy, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne; Martin McLoone, Coleraine; Robin Macpherson, Edinburgh; Kevin Rockett, Dublin; Richard Taylor, Belfast

Original Print Design: Kalina Owczarek, 4i Group (T. 020 7439 4399)

Printed by: Ernest G. Bond Ltd

With Special Thanks to: Janet Moat, BFI, Peter Chappell, Faction Films, 4i Group, Deborah Loth, Laura Mulvey, Bridget Orr, Sylvia Stevens, Gary Thomas, Arts Council of England, David Lawson, John Akomfrah, Alan Fountain, Rio Cinema, Roger Crittenden, NFTS, Bridget Orr, Helen Dugdale, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Hans Geert Falkenberg, Nasreen Muni Kabir, Pat Kahn, Don Boyd, Shane Danielsen, Ginnie Atkinson and Becky Lloyd: Edinburgh International Film Festival, Susan Benn, Manuela Cara, Peter Armstrong, Sarah Harvey, Jenny Matthews, Marie Helvin, Keith Colins, Jane Giles: ICA, Sally Shafto, Monica Henriquez, Tina McFarling, Jo Maurice and Mike Cowapp: The Film Council

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance from: LFDVA, The Arts Council of England