Experimenta Weekend at the LFF

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The second weekend of the LFF sees two days of experimental film work at BFI Southbank. Helen Sumpter previews this year's selection

One of the highlights of this weekend’s Experimenta selection of avant-garde artists’ films is the new preservation prints of structuralist film pioneer Hollis Frampton’s series of seven shorts ‘Hapax Legomena’ (Sat 2pm, NFT). Made in 1971 and '72, Frampton’s carefully constructed and edited explorations into the personal and the poetic still seem way ahead of their time in their engaging investigations into the relationships between sound, text and the moving and still image.

Saturday evening’s programme, ‘Human Nature’ (7pm, NFT), groups together diverse works with a focus on aspects of social and sometimes antisocial behaviour. Among these are Jim Trainor’s psychologically dark animation with a mythical narrative, ‘The Presentation Theme’, and Mara Mattuschka’s ‘Burning Palace’, a collaborative adaptation with Austrian choreographer Chris Haring and his company Liquid Loft. Based on Haring’s award-winning work ‘Posing Project B – The Art of Seduction’, this is less about romance and more a disturbing, dreamlike take on sexual attraction and display in a mood similar to physical theatre company DV8.

The Exception and the Rule
(2pm Sun, NFT) sandwiches Laida Lertxundi’s simple four-minute short ‘My Tears are Dry’, in which blue sky and a glimpse of palm tree are accompanied by the soundtrack of Hoagy Lands’s 1961 soulful lament of the same name, between two more complex films which combine documentary and ethnography. ‘Me Broni Ba’ (My White Baby), by Akosua Adoma Owusu, focuses on black hair and beauty by collaging a first-person narrative with imagery of Ghanaian hair salons where women braid each other’s hair and girls practise the skills using white dolls.

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s title film ‘The Exception and the Rule’ (related to the artists’ current Artangel art installation ‘The Museum of Non-Participation’) is shot largely in Karachi. It successfully questions the notion of what is a political film by highlighting some of the decisions the artists themselves made in this work in relation to framing, choice of language subtitles, colour or black-and-white and when to include sound or credit.

Sunday evening’s Whirl of Confusion (7pm, NFT) is an apt title for films by seven international artists that lean most heavily towards the visually abstract and narratively obscure. The popping blobs of white that jump across Greg Pope’s otherwise black film are created literally as the title of his work ‘Shot Film’ suggests: by firing at the film stock with a shotgun. The bright flashing lights and blurry images in Matthias Müller and Christoph Giradet’s ‘Contre-jour’ create a passable impression of what it might feel like to wake up after major eye surgery, or perhaps after spending too many hours staring at the screen at a film festival.

Author: Helen Sumpter



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