Three to see at LFF if you like... boundary-pushing non-fiction

Edward Lawrenson recommends three formally daring films at the BFI London Film Festival that blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction.

Edward Lawrenson

Second Time Around

Second Time Around (2018)

What’s it about?

In the late 1960s Argentinian artist Oscar Masotta put on a series of theatrical happenings in Buenos Aires that fused experimental theatre with emerging Lacanian psychoanalysis. In Second Time Around artist Dora García restages these events with contemporary participants, and chronicles the process.

Who made it?

Based in Barcelona, Dora García is an artist whose works address contemporary politics, often focused on questions of performance. Perhaps better known in the art world – she has represented Spain at the Venice Biennale, her films include the 2013 documentary The Joycean Society, a quietly compelling account of a Zurich reading group’s attempt to grapple with Finnegan’s Wake.

What’s special about it?

Second Time Around is a work of understated virtuosity: it blends the documentary of a theatrical event with a poignant evocation of the atmosphere of creative freedom of late 1960s Argentina, which would end with the political repression of the coming years.

Under the patient and watchful analysis of García’s alert camera work, the modern-day participants of her restaging of Masotta’s happenings hint at past national traumas. The connections are all the more powerful for being implied rather than spelt out – this is subtly provocative and bracingly intelligent cinema. The title is an allusion to a Julio Cortázar short story. 

See this if you like…

Films by Joshua Oppenheimer, Jeremy Deller or Robert Greene.

Between Two Cinemas

Between Two Cinemas (2018)

What’s it about?

Filmmaker Ross Lipman looks back at the short films he made over the past 30 years. Combining excerpts from and completed versions of his selected works, he reflects on his process and explores the tensions and areas of convergence between narrative and experimental forms of filmmaking. 

Who made it?

Lipman is a US-based filmmaker, scholar and restorist. His 2015 essay film Not Film, about the making of Samuel Beckett’s Film, was screened at the BFI LFF. He also worked at UCLA Film and Television Archive, and was involved with restorations including Shirley Clarke’s The Connection (1961) and John Cassavetes’ Shadows (1959).

What’s special about it?

As a filmmaker, thinker and restorist, Lipman is one of the leading figures in American independent film culture today, and this absorbing hybrid between essay, presentation and rummage through his personal archive is a fascinating insight to his evolving views on film art over the past three decades.

As well as clips from his own work, Lipman ruminates on the relationship between American experimental cinema’s more abstract tendencies and a tradition of narrative realism in European art cinema. The film also offers colourful walk-on roles to the likes of Stan Brakhage and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Béla Tarr’s regular composer Mihály Vig provides the hypnotic soundtrack.

See this if you like…

Films by Mark Cousins, Mike Hoolboom, Barbara Hammer or Craig Baldwin.

Touch Me Not

Touch Me Not (2018)

What’s it about?

A middle-aged English woman living in Germany is struggling with physical intimacy. As her seriously ill father deteriorates in hospital she stages a series of encounters with various people, including a hustler and a sex worker, in order to confront this aversion to bodily contact.

Occasionally she will reflect on her feelings with a younger woman, acting the role of the director.

Who made it?

Adina Pintilie is a Romanian director who has made a number of documentary and experimental shorts that have enjoyed festival success. Touch Me Not, which she wrote and edited, is her debut feature.

What’s special about it?

This is a fearless and searching exploration of sexuality that teems with ideas and a sense of bold formal invention. Pitched somewhere between fiction and documentary, the movie will make you think about the blurred lines connecting scripted performance and instinctive behaviour.

Offering a touching celebration of physical beauty in all its multi-varied forms, this is fiercely intelligent drama, underpinned by a rich sensuality. The film won this year’s Golden Bear, the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize.

See this if you like…

Films by Catherine Breillat or Lars von Trier.

Read more

  • BFI London Film Festival

    BFI London Film Festival

    A big thank you to all our Members who supported this year’s Festival, which welcomed over 600 filmmakers from all over the world to London.

Read more

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.
Hand-picked.