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A B and W film still of several people crossing a street in 1960's london

Film Programme 2: Humans

Film Programme 2: Humans

An examination of a species.

Includes: street portraits of kids in 1930’s Dakota, a mysterious foggy pilgrimage, a swarm of time-lapsed consumers, a stereoscopic analysis of mill life, up close and personal in a Lighting Bolt mosh pit. Online links of a selection of these films is below.

Britton, South Dakota, Dir. Vanessa Renwick, USA, 2004, 9 mins, Beta SP

Score: Johnne Eschleman

Ivan Besse was the Strand movie theater manager in Britton, S. Dakota during the Depression. He had a 16mm camera and went about town shooting people at their various activities during the day. He would show the footage before features and newsreels as a way to lure the people into the theatre. Most of the 2 1/2 hours of footage that he shot is of people walking down the street, there are also scenes of a barn being moved, a corn husking contest and kids running out of school. The footage that really stood out to me was these 8 minutes of portraits of children. They had no idea of what a movie camera was. The lack of narrative invites dressing these cinematic dolls with futures, now histories. The melancholic drone of the accompanying organ music tends to lead them into sad tragic finery. (Vanessa Renwick) You can see an extract of this film here.

The Coming Race, Dir. Ben Rivers, UK, 2007, 5 mins, 16mm

A hand-processed film in which a part of 20,000 people are seen climbing a mountain. Their purpose remains ambiguous and disquieting, heightened by the sound of rumbling created by so many feet on loose stone. (Rotterdam 2007)

The Girl Chewing Gum, Dir. John Smith, UK, 1976, 12 mins, 16mm

In The Girl Chewing Gum an authoritative voice-over pre-empts the events occurring in the image, seeming to order not only the people, cars and moving objects within the screen but also the actual camera movements operated on the street in view. In relinquishing the more subtle use of voice-over in television documentary, the film draws attention to the control and directional function of that practice: imposing, judging, creating an imaginary scene from a visual trace. This ‘Big Brother’ is not only looking at you but ordering you about as the viewer’s identification shifts from the people in the street to the camera eye overlooking the scene. The resultant voyeurism takes on an uncanny aspect as the blandness of the scene (shot in black and white on a grey day in Hackney) contrasts with the near ‘magical’ control identified with the voice. The most surprising effect is the ease with which representation and description turn into phantasm through the determining power of language. (Michael Maziere – John Smith’s Films: Reading the Visible’)

Rynek (The Market), Dir. Józef Robakowski, Tadeusz Junak and Ryszard Meissner, Poland, 1970, 5 mins, Beta SP

An animation of reality in the public space and at the same time the first film made as part of the Film Form Workshop. Using a camera situated in the so called “Red Marketplace” in Łódź, the auteur took two pictures every five seconds from 7am to 4pm. In this way, he achieved a cinematic condensation of real time using mechanical means. (Index DVD – The Energy Manifesto)

Capitalism: Child Labor, Dir. Ken Jacobs, USA, 2007, 14 mins, Mini DV

Stereo views distributed by Keystone and Underwood and Underwood catalogued the industry and production of many nations. Evident truths may seem nearly subliminal when hidden in plain view, Capitalism: Child Labor has the facts dancing before our eyes. (Rotterdam 2007)

Black and White Trypps Number Three, Dir. Ben Russell, USA, 2007, 11 mins 30 secs, 35mm

The third part in a series of films dealing with naturally-derived psychedelia. Shot during a performance by Rhode Island noise band Lightning Bolt, this film documents the transformation of a rock audience’s collective freak-out into a trance ritual of the highest spiritual order. (Ben Russell)


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