Volume 3 | Issue 7 | Autumn 2007


Volume 3 - Issue 7 - Celebrating the Visionary

By Holly Aylett, Gareth Evans

Vertigo launched in 1993 with support from Channel Four’s Cultural Fund, a legacy of the channel’s radical incarnation as a publishing house for independent production. The broadcasting map had been transformed in the 1980s when new production companies, including the regional film workshops, could bid for funding to extend the range of what it was possible to see and hear on television. Vertigo’s first editorial group involved many filmmakers alongside writers and academics, creators who had experienced the transformation of what was possible between the ’80s and ’90s, and who, with the new publication, aimed “not just to interrupt the flow of images with memory and history, but also to illumine what the present decade promises – the flowering of that independent work” (Marc Karlin, from the Editorial, Vol. 1, Issue 1).
read more



Russian Arks

By Graeme Hobbs | Gareth Evans

Post-Tarkovskian Russian auteur Aleksandr Sokurov knows a thing or two about atmosphere. His elegaic Mother and Son, like fluid stained glass, caught the melancholy beauty of the earth as little else ever has. But there the mood served the meaning.

Antonioni and Bergman: The Giants Remembered

By James Norton

Ingmar Bergman gave the best line he ever wrote to his son Daniel, who directed the film Sunday’s Children from his father’s script in 1992. A boy is confronted by a ghost in a forest and asks him, “when will I die?” and the ghost, like an echo, answers, “always!”

Images of Another India: Notes on Media Education Initiatives

By Margaret Dickinson

India’s 60th anniversary in August was celebrated by stories of burgeoning prosperity qualified by an occasional, anxious reference to another India. India’s independent documentary filmmakers have given us some telling images of this ‘other India’ but even they are not themselves from it...

The Garden

By Sophie Mayer | Lady Vervaine

After visiting Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness, we go to the Pilot Inn, where Jarman and his cast ate fish and chips during the shooting of The Garden.

The More Desperate We Are, the More Hope There Is

By Robert Chilcott

Despite originally wanting to study philosophy, Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr has always denied the use of symbols, allegories or metaphysics in his filmmaking, stating that cinema is something definite and that the lens only records real things that are there.

The Heart of the Matter

By Jason Wood

With the likes of Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu amongst his admirers, Carlos Reygadas has emerged as the Mexican filmmaker’s filmmaker. Moreover, with his three features to date, he has proved himself amongst the most distinctive voices in contemporary world cinema.

Murray Martin: An Exemplary Amber Life

By Graeme Rigby

Murray Martin died on August 14th this year, a month short of the opening of the Side Gallery exhibition celebrating its thirty years as a catalyst and venue for documentary photography and nine months short of celebrations marking forty years of Amber film and photography collective.

The Ghost of Songs

By Lina Gopaul

The Black Audio Film Collective’s recent Retrospective The Ghost of Songs, curated by the Otolith Group, launched at FACT in Liverpool (02 February – 01 April 2007) before touring to Arnolfini in Bristol (28 April- 24 June 2007).

The Moon and the Sledgehammer

By Andrew Kötting

We’ve climbed a mountain and passed a valley of fear, there is thick woodland and in it a clearing. Butler’s Erewohn? Gun shots ring out. The camera explores the landscape, the fecund and verdant landscape.

Jayne Among the Birds

By Iain Sinclair

That’s as Fortean weird as it gets: the mechanics of movement, the dietary and cultural improbabilities. Yes, local bad boys, George-Raft-fancying Bethnal Green hoodlums, liked to import American photo opportunities, screen and showbiz automata at the end of their tether...

Television On: Interactivity and the Future of the Image

By Nick Haeffner | Chris Lane

In July 2007 John Wyver (owner of British television cultural production company Illuminations) met with us to speak about a recently completed project which aims to develop new forms of interactive television. Illuminations was commissioned to produce an interactive arts programme...

Pictures Enlightened

By Jerry White

Peter Mettler exists between the conventional and the experimental, never entirely at home in either and yet fully dependent on each. He is a key member of Canada’s second-generation experimental cinema, a group that includes filmmakers like Mike Hoolboom, Richard Fung and Guy Maddin...

Reeling: Is the British Film Institute at Risk?

By Michael Chanan

Our great cultural institutions are usually housed in imposing buildings which proclaim their solidity and permanence. Not so the British Film Institute. The National Film Theatre is tucked away under London’s Waterloo Bridge, near to where it was first installed for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?

By Adam Pugh

Earlier this year, Norwich International Animation Festival became AURORA – a change which arose less because of any need for a snappier or more marketing-friendly title, more because the words ‘animation festival’ had become little more than a noose.

Palestinian Cinema: An Example for the Region?

By Omar Al-Qattan

An artist often seems to stand between the devil and the deep blue sea but a work of art can momentarily lift us out of that trap, briefly allowing us to understand our past and present and glimpse what could potentially happen in the future.

The Politics of Documentary: Michael Chanan’s Argument Considered

By Martin Carter

Trying to define the documentary film is, by any measurement, an uphill task. Is documentary a genre? Does it have a greater claim to ‘truth’ (whatever that might mean) than a fictional feature or short? Quite simply, what is it?

Cinecity, The Brighton Film Festival

By Jason Wood

It’s now hard to imagine that Brighton & Hove did not have a film festival to call its own. We recognised that as a new regional festival it was in our own interest to try and offer something distinctive. Key for us has always been placing artists’ moving image/experimental cinema at the heart of the programme...

Letter from...Paris

By Eugène Green

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities might very well describe the situation of art cinema in Paris. That it is the worst of times need hardly be proven.

Feel the South: A Report from Granada and Beyond

By Pepe Petos

The first ‘Festival de Granada Cines Del Sur’ took place in the southern Spanish city this June. The festival name, Cinemas from the South, refers to that fertile – and often neglected – cinema from the geopolitical south.

Final Residues of the Image: On Marcus Reichert

By Stephen Barber

The attention given to Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly awarded the Best Director prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, calls to mind the extraordinary artist/filmmaker Marcus Reichert.

Sign and Design: Essays in Rewriting

By David Ellis

The Cinema Marquee, the metal structure that holds the exterior signage, is frequently requisitioned by those believing themselves carriers of urgent, apocalyptic messages, Cassandra-like obsessive who see it as an oversized rectangular glow-in-the-dark Ouija board.

Marketa Lazarová

By Peter Hames

In a survey of Czech film critics held in 1998, František Vláčil’s Marketa Lazarová (1967) was voted the best Czech film ever made. It was based on a novel by the pre-war experimental writer and filmmaker, Vladislav Vančura, first published in 1931.

Under the Linden Tree

By Tereza Stehlíková

When an idea enters the world it is like a seed looking for fertile earth to give it support, to provide the base and nourishment it needs in order to grow and become real.

What Lies on the Web REDUX

By Ben Slater

In 2002 I wrote a piece for Vertigo called ‘What Lies on the Web’, which tried to assess the types of moving images that were available online at the time, and which, if any, might offer a glimpse of future directions. Five years back feels like a very long way in net-time.

The Negation of Cinema: Some Brief Notes on Letterist Cinema 1950 - 1952

By Louis Benassi

As the Iron Curtain swung across Europe the West was being analysed by Rockerfeller’s economic and demographic statisticians codifying norms of behaviour, using techniques of coercion to cast dispersion on Communists and Marxists.

Far North: Notes on a Process and its Result

By Asif Kapadia

One of the most imaginative filmmakers currently working, Asif Kapadia’s new authored feature is a primal tale of passion and violence set within the elemental landscapes of the North. The film plays in the London Film Festival this October and will be released next year.

A Sound Clash: Revising Joe/Remembering Strummer

By Mark Bedford

A series of Vertigo sponsored events taking place in London this November will mark the fifth anniversary of Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s final show in the capital – a politically motivated benefit for striking London Fire fighters at Acton Town Hall.

Wholly Attending: Notes on the Lessons of Black Sun

By Gareth Evans

I write in the night, but I see not only the tyranny. If that were all I saw, I would probably not have the courage to continue. I see people sleeping, stirring, getting up to drink water, whispering their projects or their fears, making love, praying, cooking something while the rest of the family is asleep...

The Atrocity Exhibition: A Director's Statement

By Jonathan Weiss

I made The Atrocity Exhibition because I myself wanted to see a very different kind of film. I was interested in something that actually had to do with life, not filmed theater or entertainment.

All Day and All Night

By Joe Lawlor | Christine Molloy

There’s a little over five and half weeks to go before we begin filming our first feature. By rights we should feel nervous about this. But we’re not. Perhaps this is just a time reaction.

Reading the Modern: Narratives in Cinema and Literature

By Dorota Ostrowska

In view of the poor fortunes of French post-war cinema and the critical immersion of the critics of Cahiers du cinéma in Hollywood, it is surprising that in 1959 it was nevertheless a film by a French filmmaker Alain Resnais, Hiroshima, mon amour, which won the greatest praise of those very critics.

Craig Baldwin: Archive Fever

By James Riley

In his classic 1951 essay ‘As in a Wood’, André Breton describes the value of cinema lying ‘in its power to disorient’. This effect is linked not to the content or ‘merits of a given film’ but in the viewing experience offered to the spectator by the spatial organisation of the cinema building.

Noise and Silence and Smoke and Stars: On Jiří Weiss’s Romeo, Juliet and Darkness

By Graeme Hobbs

Prague, 1942. A Jewish family, the Würms, are forced to leave their courtyard apartment building to go to the Transport.

One Meditation on Partition: Ken McMullen in Conversation

By James Leahy

British filmmaker Ken McMullen is a singular voice – innovative, engaged, enquiring – in international cultural life. Through his features, documentaries, plays, exhibitions and teaching he breaks down boundaries, between art and science, thought and action, life and its representation.

Cassavetes Directs

By David Jenkins

Many believe that with films such as Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, Husbands and Opening Night, capturing madness on film is what John Cassavetes excelled at. Within the pages of Michael Ventura's stunning Cassavetes Directs it’s the director himself who is placed on the analyst’s couch...

The Cinema of Globalization: A Guide to Films About the New Economic Order

By Catherine Lupton

Following on from Working Stiffs, Tom Zaniello’s earlier reference guide to films about labour, this new volume offers a clear and easy-to-navigate survey of films dealing with different aspects of globalization.

In the Ongoing Moment: A Road and Image Diary

By Bill Morrison

A large part of my work as a filmmaker involves producing images for live multimedia events, and sometimes producing the events themselves as well. During the first five months of 2007, we produced five different shows that involved film and/or video projection with live music performance.

Rue Des Canettes: A Story of Paris

By Eugène Green

A little old lady pushed the door of the shoe mender’s on Rue des Canettes, and stepped from the September sunshine into the gloom of the shop.

Vision Field: Four Poems by Jeremy Reed

By Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed is one of Britain’s most imaginatively intense writers and a visionary in the definitive meaning of that word. A poet in all he is and writes, he is a prolific chronicler of consciousness as it unfolds on different planes, and in relation to personality, place, history and culture.

A Few Elements for Another Vision: Of the Baader Meinhof/Red Army Faction Story

By Jean-Gabriel Pérlot

This October, some will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ‘German Autumn’. Newspapers and TV will feed the audience with spotless archives and testimonies of the witnesses to these events. But what will they celebrate, really? The final and bloody stage of a revolutionary hope born in 1967-1968?

On Devotional Cinema

By Nathaniel Dorsky

In all the various moods and styles through which relative time has manifested, great artists have always expressed nowness. Standing behind the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and contemplating its grace and geometry, the delicate traceries of its rose windows...

Salt of this Sea: Notes on a Shooting

By Annemarie Jacir

Salt of this Sea is a low-budget, feature-length film which follows the story of Soraya, a working-class Palestinian refugee born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Wild-at-heart and independent, she decides to return to the country that her grandfather was exiled from in 1948.

On Finishing Memories of a Future: The Spanish Civil War 70 Years on

By Margaret Dickinson

I love the double learning process which goes with making a documentary, not only playing with the medium but exploring the subject. It is only sad that it is never possible to pass on to the audience the whole experience.

Sheffield Doc/Fest

By Heather Croall

Over the last few months, documentary film and factual television have come under great scrutiny from the media, academics and even filmmakers, who have questioned the ethical and editorial quality of recent films and programmes.

Gyorgy Doczi, from The Power of Limits

Something infinitely small, under certain conditions operates in a decisive manner. There is no mass so heavy but that a given point is equal to it; for a mass will not fall if a single point in it is upheld, provided that this point be the centre of gravity.

Volume 3 – Issue 7 – Autumn 2007

This issue is dedicated to all those who struggle to realise their singular visions, in the face of often great obstacles.  

I hear the axe has flowered,
I hear the place can’t be named,
I hear the bread that looks on him
heals the hanged man,
the bread his wife baked him,
I hear they call life
the only refuge.  

‘Ich Höre, die Axt Hat Geblüht’ by Paul Celan, trans. Ian Fairley, from Schneepart (Carcanet, 2007)

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor: Nancy Harrison
Editorial Assistant: Amanda Egbe
Original Website: Chris Lane
Marketing Manager: Peter Fraser
Publication Manager: Nancy Harrison
Online Editor: Robert Chilcott
Student Network: Pepe Baena
Intern: Louise Hurtel  

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

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, Bad Idea Magazine, Natalie Brady, Peter Chappell, Curzon Cinemas, Helen Idle, Joan Leese, Steve Lewis (Artificial Eye), Tina McFarling, Mehelli Modi (Second Run), Onagono, Gautham Ravindran, Jill Reading (BFI), Paul Smith (Tartan Video), Eve Sullivan (ACE), Nicola Williams (UKFC), Sylvia Stevens, Verena von Stackelberg, Rowan Wilson.

Original Print Edition published with assistance from: Arts Council England, UK Film Council