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Jarman Award

Five things to watch out for in this year's Jarman Award

Derek Jarman was one of the most forward-thinking, influential video artists of his generation. As the Whitechapel Gallery again hosts the awards named in his honour, Eddy Frankel picks five things to look out for in this celebration of arty flicks.


Everyone’s favourite Aussie (no, not Russell Crowe, Nick Cave) is the subject of Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s critically lauded film ‘20,000 Days on Earth’. The work revolves around a series of unscripted scenes that are intended to, well, portray Cave’s 20,000th day on earth. There’s ol’ Nick, sat at his typewriter, driving his car, chatting to his therapist – it’s sort of a cinematic portrait of the musician, part abstract visual-poem, part documentary. Is there a cameo from Kylie? We should be so lucky! (There is.)


Semi-naked participants carry boulders through caves while being comforted by a lipstick-smudged bloke. The boulders in ‘The Caves Film’, the over-the-top filmed performance by ever-theatrical artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, represent debt, and that cross-dressing fella is the debt councillor. If only your bank manager wore kaftans and eyeliner, maybe this whole student debt thing wouldn’t be so bad. Surreal, absurd, funny and decidedly lo-fi, Chetwynd’s film is one of the highlights of the awards.


Rachel Reupke is big into social interaction, and the film she’s showing here – ‘Wine & Spirits’ – features a series of hyper-stylised ‘vignettes’, depicting two people having a pint down the pub. It’s a slow, deliberate and beautiful work that explores lots of ideas about how we deal with each other. It also makes you wish that all of your visits to the pub were styled by an artist – maybe then you wouldn’t end up ordering that eighth pint of lager, or dropping half a kebab down your shirt on the night bus home. Save us from ourselves, art!

Old drawings

Two nameless black characters traipse through fields in grim sixteenth-century Europe, each one based on actual drawings by Albrecht Dürer. No one knows the original identities of Dürer’s subjects, and John Akomfrah’s film, ‘Peripeteia’, imagines their lonely, bleak lives in rural Renaissance Germany. These two are symbolic outcasts that the artist uses to explore what it means to be part of a diaspora. It might not be a long film, but it manages to pack in plenty of emotional weight into its short running time.

Baby food

A genuine radio interview between a baby-food entrepreneur and a wonderfully smooth-voiced Radio 4-style presenter descends into all manner of awkward English platitudes about wealth and heartbreak in ‘Plum’, Stephen Sutcliffe’s cinematic exploration of disingenuousness. As images of water lapping at rocks slowly unfold on screen, the voices you hear climax into that most British of emotional outbursts – faux modesty (‘Oh I couldn’t possibly say how much my company is worth! Okay, it’s £10 million.’) and politeness. Awkies.

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