Three to see at LFF 2014 if you like ... experimental cinema

A selection of three films from the Experimenta strand at the BFI London Film Festival – programmer Helen de Witt highlights a pioneering artist, a promising breakthrough and a film to take a chance on.

Helen de Witt
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The new film from an established director …

Parallel I-IV

Parallel I-IV (2012-2014)

Parallel I-IV (2012-2014)

What’s it about?

Harum Farocki’s Parallel I-IV is the last film of the great German experimental filmmaker who died earlier this year. It continues his profound investigations into cinema imagery and the dangers involved in retreating from the real.

Cinema’s onscreen worlds have always borne an indexical bond to the real, thanks to film’s ability to register traces of physical reality and preserve them as enduring images. What happens when computer-generated video game images – images possessing no such indexical bond – usurp film as the predominant medium of visual worldmaking? How does one’s relation to on-screen heroes shift when we no longer identify with real bodies, but with affectless avatars scarcely possessing a face?

Parallel I–IV takes up these questions, tracing how, in just over 30 years, video games have developed from two-dimensional schematics to photorealistic environments. Excerpts from popular games such as Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed are accompanied by an essayistic voiceover exploring such topoi as the rendering of nature, the possibilities of bodily movement, first-person point of view, and the peculiar physics of the gamespace.

Who made it?

Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was born in German-annexed Czechoslovakia. From 1966 to 1968 he attended the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). In addition to teaching posts in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Manila, Munich and Stuttgart, he was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Farocki made close to 120 films, including feature films, essay films and documentaries. He also worked in collaboration with other filmmakers as a scriptwriter, actor and producer.

The breakthrough …

When You Fall into a Trance

When You Fall into a Trance (2014)

When You Fall into a Trance (2014)

What’s it about?

Emily Wardill’s When You Fall into a Trance is an intoxicating investigation of the relationship of mind and body, explored through seductive and beguiling characters. It was developed through a series of workshops in which the artist worked with actors to build a script.

The narrative is based around the character of a neuroscientist, Dominique, and her relations with three people: her teenage daughter Tony, a professional synchronised swimmer; her lover Hugo, a corrupt aid worker; and her patient Simon, who is suffering the loss of his proprioception – an individual’s sense of the relative position of his or her own body parts, as well as an understanding of the effort required to move them.

Who made it?

In her enigmatic films, London-based filmmaker Emily Wardill explores how social meanings are projected onto objects. Presenting a blurred concept of truth and fiction, symbolism and reality and rationality and emotion, Wardill unlocks the hierarchical and closed structures of knowledge; deconstructing visual modes of communication and offering alternative meanings for their aesthetics.

Her desire to empower the viewer is premised upon these explorations, as she explains: “I am interested in this possibility, or responsibility, of enacting your ideologies, and how that can happen in a way that’s fictitious. When you summon up material reality in your language, why does that always take on this fictitious dimension?”

The wild card …

The Film That Buys the Cinema

The Film that Buys the Cinema (2014)

The Film that Buys the Cinema (2014)

What’s it about?

This amazing film was made by many different artists to help the Cube cinema in Bristol raise enough money to buy its freehold and ensure its survival.
 
The Film That Buys the Cinema is a 70-minute film comprised of one-minute takes, each one shot by contributors who have passed through the Cube: filmmakers, musicians, poets, amateurs, wrestlers, radicals and activist groups. From the wilfully obscure to the cult, the pop spectrum to the outer limits, from scientists to skaters, it’s a series of bumper-to-bumper takes on life’s rich pageant.

Who made it?

The many artists who contributed include Jennifer Abbott, Bluescreen (Imogen Pettitt), Craig Baldwin, Beardyman, David Blandy, Bristol Radical Film Festival, Dagger Brothers, Jem Cohen, Mark Cousins, Easton Cowboys, Steven Eastwood, Efterklang, Ekoplekz, Eric Chenaux & Eric Cazdyn, Fat Paul, Amy Feneck, Doug Fishbone, Josephine Foster, Hannah Godfrey, Goodiepal, Ciro Guerra, Liz Harris, Heatsick, Emma Hedditch, Stewart Home, Jandek, Ju Suk Reet Meate and Oblivia from Smegma, Katie + Kims Kitchen, Paul Kelly, Braden King, Leyland Kirby, Andrew Kötting, Anna Lucas, Alex MacKenzie, Joe Magee, Andrew Mania, Hisham Mayet, Cory McAbee, Hugh Metcalfe, John Minton, Mississippi Records, Vanessa Renwick & Michael Hurley, Maria Mochnacz, Bill Morrison, Nanoplex, Paka Piki Music (ICHI and Rachael Dadd), Chris Petit, Tim Plester, Portishead, Project Dark, Ben Rivers, Eugene Robinson, Nicolas Roeg, Francois Marry & Rozi Plain, Semiconductor, Rasha Shaheen, Coral Short, Louise Short, Ben Slater, Stubbs & Smith, Jack Stevenson, Peter Strickland, Dudley Sutton, Jennet Thomas with Leo Chadburn, Thought Forms, Tidy Mike, Tony Grisoni & Oona Grimes, Reggie Watts, Joff Winterhart, Richard Youngs and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.

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