Volume 3 | Issue 5 | Spring 2007


Volume 3 - Issue 5 - Opening the Doors of Perception: Liberating the Image

By Gareth Evans

Down by the waterline, on these, the finest mornings of the year. That luminous sense of Spring in all that is. Possibility is always a blossom, an enrichment of the available air; how that air grows warmer and denser almost, like bread rising, to accommodate the surge of growth and change. And here, along the beach, the possible takes its own particular form. Heat hazes the banked shingle, there is the mosaic glimmer of pebbles taking light in like breath. But it is the marine vista that maps the path forward, the paths.
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Which Garden?: Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock

By Dave Saunders

The illusion of blessed peacefulness in that Garden endures only for as long as do our conditioned expectations of Eden. There are the new-made Adam and Eve in the foreground, naked and awe-struck… The trees around them are heavy with appetising fruit; there is the fountain of life behind the trees… It is more charming.

Passenger: Reflections on the Unfinished Film of Andrzej Munk

By Dai Vaughan

Works left unfinished at their authors’ deaths may sometimes, provided sufficient has been done, lead later admirers to attempt their completion. Music in particular offers examples where this, if only under the modest designation of ‘performing version’...

The Squirrels Made it Seem Less Lonely: Terry Gilliam on the State of Things

By Robert Chilcott

Terry Gilliam went indie and (comparatively) low budget with producer Jeremy Thomas and screenwriter Tony Grisoni on an adaptation of Mitch Cullins’ novel Tideland.

Putting on the Red Shoes: A Tango with the Camera

By Sophie Mayer

There’s an iconic scene at the heart of Sally Potter’s 1997 film The Tango Lesson. Sally, a film director drawn to Buenos Aires to dance tango (and played by Potter herself) goes shopping for tango shoes: precarious, demanding, stylised, sexualised, high-heeled specialist shoes.

Swimming Against the Tide

By Jason Wood

On an annual fishing trip in isolated high country, a group of fishermen find a woman’s body in the water. Their decision to stay on is perplexing, almost as if the place itself is exerting a strange pull over them. When the men finally return home to Jindabyne, and report finding the body, all hell breaks loose.

Letter from Ouagadougou: On Fespaco’s Fringe

By Graeme McElheran

Crushed against the wall of a small open-air cinema, I couldn’t lift my hands to wipe the sweat off my face. There were perhaps 1,000 Africans crowded shoulder-to-shoulder into a space sized for 300.

Intimate Distance: On Moving Images in Live Performance

By Jack McNamara

It is a cultural condition to receive works of art through an accepted course and yet it seems that our views on this have little connection with the quality of the medium itself. A painting’s status as a ‘painting’ has little to do with paint featuring in its composition but rather the distinct nature of its exhibition.

The Moving Image Writes

By Catherine Elwes

Dave Curtis may well find that in the next few months, he will enjoy a new freedom from bothersome phone calls. Over the years, innumerable students, artists, curators and researchers (myself included) have sought to draw on his encyclopaedic knowledge of UK artists’ film and video.

Strange and Familiar

By Steven Ball

In 2001 the Brighton-based artists’ duo Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) collected their output to date on their self-produced DVD Hi-Fi Rise. Their work at that point was a mix of experimentation with a ‘digital materialistic’ aesthetic – sound and image working in integral relationship as glitchy abstraction...

European Memory Zones: Consciousness, Conflict, Continental Drift

By Stephen Barber

Crisscrossing eastern and central Europe, I realised that, below its homogeneous corporate carapace, it remained intricately layered by the fissures of conflict, its parameters and peripheries still determined by the arbitrary psycho-geography imposed, with nonchalance, by the victors of Europe in 1945...

Fatherlands: On Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Africa and an Evolving Political Cinema

By Jerry White

I first met the Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun at the 2000 Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, when he was on the international circuit with his first major film, Bye-Bye Africa.

Letter from Nollywood

By Nicola Woodham

Nollywood, the huge film industry based in Nigeria, grew out of a landscape drained of resources for cultural output in the 1990s, an aridity which was the result of restrictive economic policies imposed by the World Bank and the IMF.

Derek Jarman

By James Marcus Tucker

A pivotal personal discovery took place late one night when an odd looking little film called Jubilee screamed its chaotic and wonderful imagery into my darkened suburban teenage bedroom.

Illuminating the Evidence

By James Riley

Towards the end of documentary film-maker Paul Cronin’s new work, In The Beginning Was the Image: Conversations with Peter Whitehead, we follow the subject into his archive. One room is filled with film canisters. This is the assembled ‘past’ of Peter Whitehead...

Silence. Repetition. Rhythm. Into Great Silence and the Cinema of Spirit

Into Great Silence is a very strict, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.

No Hope without the Possibility of a Wound

By Gareth Evans

He starts by arriving. With a sleeping bag and a stick of painted signs, the word on cardboard, damp. Parliament Square, 2nd June 2001. Blair will be in again, just days later, and then all the years we now know to have come.

Where Angels Roam

By Keith Griffiths

For more than ten years I have been straining my eyes looking at a poor quality video of one of those rare hidden riches of contemporary cinema, Patrick Bokanowkis’s L'Ange. Then, browsing aimlessly through the book shop at the Beauborg in Paris recently, there it was, a VHS in PAL...

Two or Three Things… I Know About Żuławski

By Daniel Bird

In art house cinema, less is (almost) always more. Think of the raptures critics experience during Robert Bresson’s films. Think of the British Film Institute’s former video label Connoisseur. If film is like wine, then the mark of a film connoisseur is the ability to make subtle distinctions.

Harbouring History: Stella Polare and the Sound of a Place

By Andy Birtwhistle

Shot in an old European port city, whose actual location is never revealed, Anthea Kennedy and Ian Wiblin’s Stella Polare is a powerfully elegiac meditation on history and memory, violence and loss, refracted through the multiple registers of cinema’s complex temporality.

Free Radical

By Michael Brooke

Summer 2007 is shaping up to be the best time to be a British Jan Švankmajer fan since 1986, when the films of the Czech Surrealist genius were first distributed and promoted over here in significant quantities.

High Blue

By Tereza Stehlíkovà

The wanderer is walking through a dream city, lost in the mandala of its narrow streets. The outward structure has been rearranged once more to confuse him: a kaleidoscope of elements shuffled like fragments of broken coloured glass.

Film Frame to Skin Cell

By Niamh McDonnell

Sarah Pucill’s experimental films emerged in the 1990s. Her early work explored surface and projection, projecting slide and film images of her body onto domestic objects.

The Man Watching

By Rainer Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes that a storm is coming, and I hear the far-off fields say things I can't bear without a friend, I can't love without a sister.

The Slade School and Cinema: Part Two

By Henry K. Miller

In 1960 Britain’s first university film department was opened at the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London. The second article in a four-part history unravels the institutional to-and-fro behind the unit’s foundation and the eventual appointment of Thorold Dickinson...

Dick Arnall Remembered

By Gareth Evans

“Death to Animation” might seem a surprising call to arms, coming as it did from a man who spent more than 40 years working in the medium but Dick Arnall, who has died aged 62 of pneumonia as a consequence of a brain tumour, was no ordinary producer.

Death to Animation

By Dick Arnall

Everyone out there knows that animation means ‘invented’ characters brought to life on the screen by an animator. But those of us inside the world of the moving image, also use the term ‘animation’ to refer to just about anything that isn’t direct live-action...

Cinema of Ideas

By Catharine des Forges

Sometimes it takes a journey around the world to know what things mean at home. Last year, I went on a long-distance trip which involved travelling for many hours. I decided to take Lindsay Anderson's diaries with me as their size promised to last the journey.

Scott Walker: Far from Drifting

By Stephen Kijak

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man is the new film by New York-based director Stephen Kijak. Filmed primarily in Britain and made independently with very little money, it is the follow-up to 2002’s Cinemania...

Screen Academy Scotland

By Pepe Petos | Lili Sandelin | Hermann Karlsson | Mattias Karlsson | Damian Wood | Paul Gray | Lin Anderson | Catriona Craig | Kelly Neal | Astrid Bussink | Joseph N Feltus | Neil Gillies

This issue, Learning Curve welcomes the students from Screen Academy Scotland. Up there in the north, they prepared the content for the following pages.

A Christmas Carol

By Terence Davies

Close all the doors. Switch off all the lights. Surrender to the final dark. Don’t be afraid. For fear is nothing but a cessation of hope. And hope the remnants of the times gone by.

Show and Tell: A Report on The Party and the Guests

By Michael Brooke

One of the most controversial Czech films of its era, Jan Němec's second feature was completed in 1966, belatedly released during the short-lived liberalization of early 1968 but formally “banned forever” in 1973.

Vision On

By Lucy Reynolds

Since 2000 Film London’s Artist Moving Image Network and its annual awards for artists’ film and video (LAFVA) have enabled many London based artist filmmakers to realise projects which may have been years in the planning, and which are often ambitious in both their conceptual and technical scope.

Luminous Days: Notes on the New German Cinema

By Ekkehard Knörer

After decades of almost international irrelevance, German cinema is on the map again. This year's Academy Award for Florian Henckel von Donnersmarcks The Lives of Others was already the second Best Foreign Film Oscar within five years, after Caroline Link's Nowhere in Africa in 2003.

A Cinema of Challenge

By Christophe Hochhäusler

Film still has power. Perhaps its influence has never been greater. But since cinema has become ubiquitous – in every corner of the world, in the underground and on the wrist – and since it no longer takes any effort to see a film (on the contrary, it seems harder to stay abstinent)...

Iceland: Gold Diggers (No Such Thing Remix) 4:07

By Sophie Mayer | Lady Vervaine

It is so cold that speech is impossible. The landscape breathes words of ice and fire. With picks and maps, we go looking. See signs. Here Be Monsters. Geysers. Glaciers. Volcanoes. Cinemas.

Three of the Greatest Tasks for Film

By Stan Brakhage

Three of the greatest tasks for film in the twentieth century are...

Volume 3 – Issue 5 – Spring 2007

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Dick Arnall for his vision, his commitment.

“The poetic embrace, like the carnal, while it endures forbids all lapse into the miseries of the world.” – André Breton

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor: Nancy Harrison
Original Website: Chris Lane
Marketing Manager: Peter Fraser
Student Network: Pepe Baena and Daniel Gonazalez Cabrero
Special Projects: Will Hui
Intern: Becky Pritchard

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Emilie Bickerton, George Clark, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evaqns, Gaylene Gould, James Leahy, Thessa Mooij, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley.

Advisory Board: John Akomfrah, Asu Aksoy, Yossi Bal, Gill Branston, Robert Chilcott, Don Coutts, David Curtis, Margaret Dickinson, Catherine Elwes, Alan Fountain, Lina Gopaul, Keith Griffiths, Sylvia Harvey, Judith Higginbottom, Asif Kapadia, Ruth Lingford, Sarah McCarthy, Martin McLoone, Robin MacPherson, Kevin Rockett, Keith Shiri, Sarah Turner.

Original Print Design: Tomasz Zarebski, www.zarebski.co.uk

Printed by: Alderson Brothers Printers Ltd.

With Special Thanks to:  Yoram Allon, Natalie Brady, Chris Chandler (UK Film Council), Peter Chappell, Curzon Cinemas, Rose Cupit and Rob Hill (Film London), Maggie EllisMaren Hobein, Joan Leese, Steve Lewis (Artificial Eye), Tina McFarling, Mehilli Modi, Onagono, Julien Plante, Thomas Ponsonby, Suzie Reeves, Michelle Salerno (ABE), Nicola Williams (UKFC), Sylvia Stevens, Verena von Stackelberg, Jill Reading (BFI), Bad Idea magazine, Martin Gough (Soda).

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance from: Arts Council England; UK Film Council, Lottery Funded; Jerwood Charitable Foundation