Volume 4 | Issue 2 | Winter-Spring 2009


Volume 4 - Issue 2 - Resistance is Fertile: The Independent Image

By John Jordan

The week the financial crisis erupted, a lone protester appeared on Wall Street holding a cardboard sign reading “jump you fuckers… jump.” Perhaps it was a message for us all. We have reached another bifurcation point in history. While all eyes are on the credit crunch, less is being talked about the “eco-crunch” whose real-world losses – of habitats, water systems, species, soils – can't be bailed out. Even less is being written about the energy and food price crunch. Anyone proposing a strategy that fails to take account of these combined crunches is about to fall to earth with a bump.
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The History of Cinema and History in Cinema

By Chris Petit

In the opening episode, one of the first names mentioned is Mary Meerson, so let’s start with her, to whom Godard dedicates this film. Meerson was the long-term companion of Henri Langlois who ran the Paris Cinematheque.

“The skin, the aging, the imperfection, the colour, the beauty”

By Sophie Mayer

It’s par for the course to have a standing ovation at a film festival, especially when the filmmaker’s in the house. But the wave of applause that flowed after the final, glowing frames of When It Was Blue felt different...

Without Borders

By Patrick Hazard

What do film festivals do, and why do they matter? Clearly the second question is dependent on the answer to the first and the first is dependent on a set of objectives such as, ‘a festival for whom?’ and ‘a festival about what?’

Power to the Pixel: Discovering the Potential of the Digital

By Nikki Nime

Independent filmmakers have persevered for decades, trying to sustain their craft in an industry designed by Hollywood bigwigs for mass marketed, big budget productions. Gatekeepers, or as some are called – distributors, have controlled the movie industry for decades, leaving independents with no choice but to vie for their approval...

The Dardenne Brothers

By Robert Chilcott

The universe of the Dardenne brothers positions a naturalism so extreme it occasionally transcends into the fantastical. Its characters are savage innocents, hopeful and desperate, so stubbornly blindsided by the routines of their delusional path to self-fulfilment that they cannot reconcile the cost of their modest desires...

Transitions: Cinema and Video Art from Georgia

By James Norton

The October Bristol Festival ‘Cinema and Video Art from Georgia’, celebrating 20 years of the twinning of the city and Tbilisi, followed with bittersweet timing last summer’s deadly conflict between Georgia and Russia.

‘Amateur’ Auteurs

By Rob Dennis

“The return of the amateur film era is just around the corner,” wrote a buoyant Jia Zhang-ke back in 1998. In a manifesto style tirade against what he saw as the professional standards of filmmaking in modern China, Jia’s hugely influential article called for a new ‘ethics and truthfulness’ in cinema...

Viva Viva: An Exhibition at P3 Gallery, London, December 2008

By Anne Robinson

Joram Ten Brink's film The Man Who Couldn't Feel and Other Tales proposes the 'essay film' as an avant-garde nonfiction film genre. According to Brink's written PhD, which cites Vertov and Marker, this idea came out of the examination of the completed film.

On Showing a Film: Some Thoughts and Voices

By Peter Todd

Showing a film raises as many questions as making a film, although it may depend on the film and the showing. I say ‘showing’ a film rather than screening a film because screening implies a screen, when it could just as well be a wall or other surface.

Colourfield Cinema

By Poppy Sebag-Montefiore

Usually Chinese romances tell of pure love rendered impossible in forbidding societies. Red Sorghum takes place in what used to be a leper’s retreat in a desert, it couldn’t be further from the world, but the film tells a story of a love so impossible that it is barely conceived.

On the Quays’ Side: The Comb (from The Museums of Sleep)

By Claire Kitson

Following her piece on the Quay brothers’ Street of Crocodiles (1986) in our Vol. 4 Issue 1 October issue, we are pleased to publish another film portrait written for Clare Kitson’s British Animation: The Channel 4 Factor.

Marvo Man

By William Fowler

Jeff Keen was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire in 1923. His father worked for the local landowner and the Keen family had no electricity or gas in the cottage where they lived. He worked in a branch of Sainsbury’s and in apparent preparation for the next part and, indeed, the rest of his life, took to drawing bombers.

U.S. and Them: I’m Not There and American Surrealism

By Jerry White

When I’m writing about a film, I frequently put the DVD on the monitor in my office, to have it on in the background. Part of this is so that I can quickly find the sequence I am writing about at any given moment, and part of this is so that I can always have the film’s sounds, its rhythms, in the back of my head...

Genealogies of Film's Ruination: The Cinemas of Los Angeles' Broadway

By Stephen Barber

Film's end begins with a glorious scar on the face of the city. Once the end of film has been located, the eye can travel in any direction, backwards in time, forwards in time, or more profoundly into a moment of immediacy, and into the transformative space and corporeality of filmic ruination.

In Memoriam

By Nick Bradshaw

Los Angeles grew up with the movies, before it learnt to sprawl; as its downtown arteries swelled with migrants and dream-seekers in the late nineteenth century, they were also colonised by showmen, beginning a four-decade flowering of vaudeville houses, penny arcades, nickelodeons, movie theatres...

The Moving and the Still

By Sukhdev Sandhu

Import/ Export, a supremely revelatory and breathtakingly fierce panorama of modern-day Europe by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, could not have been released at a better moment. At a time when hundreds of millions of people, in America and across the world, have been questioning the morality of an economic system...

Modern Ruin: The Future is Already Here

By Grant Gee

Orpheus’ gaze and Piranesi and Dore, Sir John Soane, Roger Fenton, George Simmel and The Hindenberg, Finnegan’s Wake and the burning of the Crystal Palace, 9/11 and Germany Year Zero, CGI Armageddon and Le Corbusier, ‘maisons tropicales’ in the Congo, Bauhaus in Tel Aviv...

For What We Are about to Receive

By Graeme Hobbs

‘Too gruesome for words’, ‘a movie that belongs in every school’, ‘the 2001: A Space Odyssey of modern food production’, ‘eccentrically lovely and frequently horrifying’, ‘Geyrhalter, as director and cameraman, can also be compared with suspense master Hitchcock… a pure cineaste and motion scientist’.

Wake Up, Freak Out – Then Get a Grip

By Leo Murray

Back in July 2007, I was sat in a conference having the bejesus scared out of me by a short presentation on the most recent science in the field of climate change. The world’s most authoritative arbiter of our understanding on this issue, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...

Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves

By Mark Cousins

From the start it’s clear why Divorce Iranian Style (1998) won the Flaherty Documentary BAFTA, the Chicago International Film Festival Best Documentary prize, the San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Spire and the FIPRESCI Prize at the legendary Yamagata Documentary Festival.

From Darkness into Light: Policies for Audiovisual Development in Africa

By Rasmane Ouedraougu

Rasmane Ouedraogo was invited to London from Burkina Faso to take part in a high level seminar on ways to give the creative industries a central role in development strategy. One of Africa’s best-known actors, and a leading player in audiovisual policy, he could not get a visa in time to take part...

Filming in Hot Sun: Kenya, Kibera and the Power of the Image

By Piotr Cieplak

Jua Kali means hot sun in Kiswahili, but it is more than just a term. It is a philosophy, a way of life and an informal economic system. The phrase describes people who work in Kenya’s scorching sun, because they cannot afford the luxury of a roof over their heads.

In a Lonely Place: Tony Grisoni’s Kingsland

By Iain Sinclair

This is an affair of glances and reflex gestures, a local drama in which willed tenderness finds resolution in the quantum of cruelty. A young man, proud of his innocent moustache, travels in a car of floating lights. Reds, golds, yellows and blues play across a troubled face.

Legacy in the Dust: Club Culture and Communal Need in Hackney

By Sukhdev Sandhu

History Is Made At Night. That’s the name of Neil Gordon-Orr’s excellent blog [http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.com] about the politics of dancing, “a celebration of dance as an affirmation of life in different times and places, sometimes dangerous times and places”.

Redacted: The Invisible Film on the ‘Invisible’ War

By the Celluloid Liberation Front

The fanatical ambition of a civilizational clash, whereby our democratic (?) armies would have brought ‘civilization’ and ‘freedom’ to Iraq, is having many tragic consequences, one among them being the dramatic banning of any form of understanding towards what freedom honestly and practically means.

When Signs Come Home to Roost: Dan Geva’s Description of a Memory

By Catherine Lupton

What does it mean to remember a film? The magnet in that question is remember: the ready seduction of memory, for ourselves alone and for the wider culture we inhabit. But always undergirding that attraction are the lightning fork paths of meaning-making by which we arrive at memory...

Against the Poverty of the World: Viktor Shklovsky and the Critical Mass

By James Norton

While still in his early twenties, Viktor Shklovsky, a leading light of the Russian literary scene, published on the eve of the Revolution the most influential theoretical article of its time, ‘Art as Technique’, in which he introduced the idea of ostranenie, insisting on the power of art to defamiliarise...

Plot in Cinematography: Victor Shklovsky, Literature and Cinematography

By Victor Shklovsky

To do a proper study on the theory of cinematography, you would have to collect all films, or at least several thousand of them. When classified, these films might yield the mass of material from which you could formulate several absolutely precise laws.

After Tropical Malady

By Graeme Hobbs

I am the street lamps and market stalls
whose bursting rings of light devoured you
the slashed red seats were the work of my claws

Desire in Action: The Cube Microplex and the Future of Cinema

By Graeme Hogg | Chris Williams

Cinema as a tactile, temperamental and explosive entity. Cinema as a means of production, cinema as a physical space, a production house? As an artist run public entertainment palace The Cube Cinema, Bristol, England has involved itself heavily with exhibition of all manner of art-forms to paying audiences.

Then and Now

By Louis Benassi

‘Groups’: what are they? We could seek the answer in the archives of cultural history. Join the dots, draw a map or plot the arc. ‘Groups’ form to express a common ideal. To critique, relate collective opinions, manifest cultural actions. Self-facilitating?

So, Nu?: Questioning Jewish Autobiographical Documentary

By Sophie Mayer

In the conclusion to First Person Jewish, her study of autobiographical documentary by Jewish filmmakers, Alisa Lebow takes up Barbara Myerhoff’s In Her Own Time, which she names her “limit case.” Myerhoff, a well-known ethnographer of American Jewish life, died before completing her film...

The Double {+} Anchor: Notes Towards a Common Cause

By Jem Cohen

My starting place is the belief that our connections to the music, writing, films (and so on) that we love are not luxuries, they are sustenance. (I’m talking about art itself, not the distortions of “the art world.”) It’s hard to speak about this without falling back on well-worn truisms about common language...

In Pursuit of Treasure Island: Raul Ruiz is on the Trail of a Classic

By James Norton

Pirates are back in the headlines. If Robert Louis Stevenson had written Treasure Island today, perhaps Long John Silver would have been a Somali fisherman driven to piracy by political anarchy and trespassing foreign trawlers...

The Animals Film: Telling it Like it Is

By James Norton

The Animals Film, one of the most powerful of radical documentaries, was long overdue a dvd release. The film was made in 1982 by Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux, a ferocious cry of outrage against the violent exploitation by mankind of our fellow animals...


By Sophie Lewis

Historically, the ‘pornocracy’ refers to a 60-year period when the popes were in thrall to mistresses who used their sexual dominance to rule the church. In Pornocracy, with sexual power seeming to circulate entirely between men...

The Age of Stupid

By Gareth Evans

Following on from her remarkable campaigning documentaries McLibel and Drowned Out, film-maker Franny Armstrong has spent the last few years making her most important film yet. The Age of Stupid is a docu-drama about climate change, ecological collapse and the end of human civilisation.

Divisions Upon a Ground

By Dai Vaughan

There is a room whose shutters are always closed. In one corner there is a book no one has ever read. And there on the wall is a picture one cannot see without weeping.

That Was the Mayday that Was: Photographing Resistance

By Sukhdev Sandhu

The photographs are odd, apocalyptic, banal. Prada, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan - companies whose logos tattoo the brandscapes of modern cities, whose names are cooingly incanted by Hollywood actors in gauzy ads designed to invade and re-engineer viewers’ dream lives...

Platform Alterations: Vertigo Expands its Online Interventions

By Anne Robinson

In years to come, it may seem very strange that the moving image was written about accompanied only by still images. The age of new media has brought with it the means to change all this and to reconfigure the relationship between the moving image and critical writing.

The Moving Image

By Gareth Evans

A man then
across a roof...

Expanded Cinema

By Duncan White

Expanded Cinema remains an elusive subject. It is perhaps at its most visible, and most actively engaged with, between 1965 and 1976. Yet its origins may well be latent in the earliest moments of cinema, not to mention modern visual media more broadly.

Empires of Tin

By Jem Cohen

Back then, before the Great War… it was not yet a matter of indifference whether a person lived or died. If a life was snuffed out from the host of the living, another life did not instantly replace it and make people forget the deceased.

Work in Progress

By Samantha Rebello

A well fed body and delicate complexion are but a tunic of worms and fire. The body is vile, stinking and withered. The pleasure of the flesh is by nature poisoned and corrupt.

Washing One’s Hands

By Paolo Freire

Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral

Volume 4 - Issue 2 - Winter-Spring 2009

This issue is dedicated to the memory of three remarkable makers and activists for peace and justice; the poet Adrian Mitchell (born 1932), the playwright Harold Pinter (born 1930) and the citizen Richard Crump (born 1923), all of whom died in the final days of 2008 and dedicated their lives to the common cause and the greater good. They will be missed.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor
: Nancy Harrisson
Original Website
: Chris Lane
Publication Manager
: Nancy Harrisson
Online Editor
: Robert Chilcott
Web Development
: Tim Riley
: Abigail Freeman
Original Print Design
: Tomasz Zarebski

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evans, Nick Haeffner, James Leahy, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley, Anne Robinson, Sheila Whitaker

Original Edition printed by: Cambrian Printers Ltd.

With Special Thanks to
: Paul Abbot, Bad Idea magazine, Aneta Chałas, Peter Chappel, Curzon Cinemas, Amber Elise, Hermoine Harris, Antonia Hazelrigg (UKFC), Ajay Hothi (ACE), Julie Lomax (ACE), Mehelli Modi (Second Run), Onagono, Sven Porter, Gautham Ravidran, Jull Reading (BFI), Damien Sanville, Sylvia Stevens