In the November Electric Sheep Film Show, Virginie Sélavy and Alex Fitch talk to visual artist Graham Humphreys, best known for his posters for The Evil Dead, Dream Demon and Sante Sangre, about his new book, Drawing Blood. Festival director Nag Vladermersky looks ahead at the highlights of this year’s London International Animation Festival, which runs at the Barbican from 4 to 10 December. Plus an interview with Peter Strickland, director of Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy, about his new ‘3D sound’ adaptation of Nigel Keale’s The Stone Tape for BBC Radio 4.
We are very proud to be presenting Ana Lily Amirpour’s wonderful A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham on March 27. A stylish, melancholy tale about a chador-wearing skateboarding vampire girl unfolding in an Iranian dreamland, set to an Italian Western-inspired score and shot in magnificent widescreen black and white, it is an absolute treat that must be seen on a big screen.
Running from 19 to 29 March, the always excellent Flatpack once more offers a unique, inventive mix of features, shorts, exhibitions, installations, workshops, walks and performances in a variety of venues across Birmingham, ranging from cafes to a cathedral.
Among the highlights, Flatpack pays homage to the Japanese tradition of Benshi, the art of live film narration with Japanese silent film screenings, Ghostbusters and workshops. There is also cut-out animation with Paper Cinema’s take on The Odyssey, a cine-journey through a city with Vicki Bennett’s Citation City, an Edwardian Horror Show, interactive animation exhibition Amusement Park from Finland, a participatory dinner installation from Denmark using Oculus Rift technology, and a Roy Andersson retrospective.
Feature films include Electric Sheep favourites Sion Sono’s delirious yakuza musical Tokyo Tribe, Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s powerful sign-language drama The Tribe. In the documentary programme, we highly recommend Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp’s exploration of the strange world of slime mould The Creeping Garden, and look forward to Tim K. Smith’s documentary Sex and Broadcasting, about the listener-funded independent US radio station WFMU and Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s Uncle Tony, The Three Fools and the Secret Service, which questions the official history of 70s Bulgarian animation.
This year, the 12th Polish Film Festival brings not only its usual bounty of new works and rare classics, but also very excitingly includes the first major UK retrospective of the work of the brilliant Walerian Borowczyk, a firm favourite at Electric Sheep. We will celebrate this very special event by making Borowczyk the focus of our next theme, starting in May, exploring his work through articles and our usual columns, including a feature by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird, who collaborated to the retrospective.
The programme will celebrate Borowczyk’s rich and varied body of work, including his artwork, early shorts, animation and live-action features, many of which have been rarely or never seen in the UK and have been fully restored. Best known for insane erotic masterpiece The Beast, Borowczyk had started as a poster designer and acclaimed animator, producing the wonderfully inventive Angels’ Games in 1964 before moving into live-action features with the splendidly surreal The Theatre or Mr and Mrs Kabal and Goto, Island of Love.
For the first time, BFI Southbank and the ICA will be jointly holding a retrospective in partnership with KINOTEKA, running throughout May with film screenings, an exhibition, events and talks, featuring newly restored prints. In addition, the ICA will also be hosting the first UK exhibition of Borowczyk’s artwork, including preliminary work for his animated films, as well as his wooden sound sculptures. The ICA Cinema will also screen two shorts programmes including Angels’ Games.
Career Retrospective ‘Cinema of Desire, The Films of Walerian Borowczyk’ developed in collaboration with Daniel Bird, runs throughout May at BFI Southbank and the exhibition Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye’ takes place at the ICA from 20 May to 29 June.
Arrow Academy’s dual format (DVD + Blu-ray) box set release of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection (released 18 August 2014) brings together key films from 1959 through to 1984.
Other highlights of the KINOTEKA festival picked from the press release include:
Pawel Pawlikowski multi-award-winning new film Ida will screen at a special centrepiece gala screening at the Barbican (24 May) ahead of its UK release later this year through Artificial Eye. Pawlikowski’s latest film is a poetic, almost Bressonian exploration of the limits of faith following the story of Anna, a young novice in rural 1960s Poland, who discovers a dark family secret on the verge of taking her vows. Exquisitely composed and shot in luminescent black and white, Ida won Best Film at the London Film Festival.
‘Sex in the Polish Socialist Republic’ is a fascinating and insightful look at sex and intimacy behind the Iron Curtain with a programme of Polish animation shorts from the Communist period, thematically linked around sex. The topic is transformed artistically and often ironically with works by leading Polish animators Julian Józef Antoniusz, Andrzej Czeczot, Piotr Dumała and Alexander Sroczyński amongst others. The screening at the Barbican (12 May) is organised in partnership with the London International Animation Festival.
Riverside Studios will showcase an exhibition of posters designed by Henryk Tomaszewski (21 April – 3 May) to mark the centenary of the birth of one of the founding fathers of the classic Polish School of Posters. Tomaszewski was known for creating expressive posters, based on visual shortcuts and metaphors, opening up a move towards greater simplicity as the foundation of his graphic language. The exhibition in London is a satellite event being held concurrently with a major exhibition of his work in Poland curated by Agnieszka Szewczyk; ‘I’ve Been Here; I Hope The Same For You’ Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (14 March – 10 June).
And we are particularly looking forward to KINOTEKA’S Closing Night Concert, which takes place at the Union Chapel on 30 May, described as follows:
Produced by the Barbican, the concert will premiere two short films by the Quay Brothers with live soundtrack provided by the legendary Arditti Quartet. The Gala will be the UK premiere of the Quay Brothers’ latest short film Kwartet Smyczkovy, and the critically acclaimed In Absentia, taking existing musical compositions for their inspiration. In Absentia directly responds to Stockhausen’s electronic composition Two Couples (1992/1999). The hypnotic visual language of the film and fragmented mode of narrative intensifies the associative power of the music like an additional, visual voice in the polyvocal texture. Kwartet Smyczkovy – Paraphrase on Peter Handke’s ‘The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other’ – is based on Lutosławski’s only string quartet, composed in 1964 and marks the centenary of the composer’s birth. The Quay Brothers react to the melodic superimpositions and flickering micro-rhythms of the composition with stark and eerie twilit images. The Arditti Quartet will perform these pieces live, in dialogue with the projection and will also perform Alban Berg’s Lyrische Suite, between the films, understood as an aural ‘film’ for the ears.
Birmingham’s brilliant Flatpack Film Festival returns for an eighth year for 11 days of inventive film delights, from 20 to 30 March. As always, expect a mind-stretching mix of new features, shorts and special guests, as well as avant-garde Austrian animation, a solipsistic installation, a Victorian magic lantern show, a psychedelic music night, walking tours and pop-up screenings in unexpected venues across the city.
Among the highlights:
• PHONO-CINEMA-THEATRE, the first UK screening of short films, many of them in hand-tinted colour, which were made for the 1900 Paris Exposition and featured theatre and variety stars of the day. The films include Sarah Bernhardt’s Hamlet and a can-can by Gabrielle Réjane; many of them have original sound thanks to an ingenious gramophone system.
• The UK premiere of THE GREAT FLOOD, a portrait of the devastation caused by the Mississippi floods of 1927 presented by experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison. Also screening are Morrison’s poetic take on archive footage of Durham miners’ lives from the 1900s to the 1970s THE MINERS’ HYMNS and his ode to cinematic decay DECASIA (we have an article on Decasia in our book, The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology, available from Strange Attractor Press).
• CAFÉ NEURO: a weekend of talks, screenings and activities that will exploit recent developments in brain-imaging and eye-tracking technology to explore what cinema does to our brains.
• JAPANIMATION: a retrospective of Japan’s offbeat DVD label Calf including work by Mirai Mizue, Tochka Collective and Atsushi Wada.
• DVD BANG, a Korean-inspired viewing lounge, where you can book in to watch a movie day or night.
Feature films include an immersive, semi-horizontal screening of Douglas Trumbull’s 70s eco-sci-fi movie SILENT RUNNING, electrifying Kathleen Hanna documentary that will make you happy to be alive THE PUNK SINGER, Haskell Wexler’s counter-culture classic MEDIUM COOL, fascinating, thoughtful UFO doc about disinformation and the creation of truth MIRAGE MEN, Ken Russell’s mind-bending ALTERED STATES, sensuous neo-gialloTHE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS, Krzysztof Zanussi’s 1970s exploration of the mind ILLUMINATION, F.W. Murnau’s classic silent horror NOSFERATU, part faux doc on East German 80s skate subculture THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA and Eiichi Yamamoto’s amazing-sounding psychedelic animé BELLADONNA OF SADNESS, based on a French novel about medieval witchcraft.
Alex Fitch talks to a pair of directors of innovative short animated films: Oscar-winner (2011 co-director Short Animated Film) Shaun Tan about the adaptation of his acclaimed picture book The Lost Thing and web animator Jonti Picking about his cult animated series Weebl and Bob as well as his adverts for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (is it that time of year already?) and Anchor Butter.
In our autumn issue we look at cruel games, from the politics of human blood sport in the Corman-produced ultra-violent Death Race, to sadistic power play in the disturbingly funny Korean thriller A Bloody Aria, fascist games in German hit The Wave and Stanley Kubrick’s career-long fascination with game-playing. Plus: interview with comic book master Charles Burns about the stunning animated film Fear(s) of the Dark, preview of the Raindance Festival, reviews of Tarsem’s The Fall and Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes of Time Redux. And don’t miss our fantastic London Film Festival comic strip, which surely is alone worth the price of the issue!
The magazine is no longer available and we are no longer published by Wallflower Press.
Also in this issue: Compass of Mystery Festival, Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr, Jan Å vankmajer’s Alice and a Seeing Double review of Alex Proyas’s Dark City!