British Film Institute 2010 in Review
Duncan Campbell, Make it new John, 2009, still from a black-and-white and color film in video and 16 mm, 50 minutes 4 seconds.
Mark Webber is an independent curator of artists’ film and video, and a program adviser to the BFI London Film Festival.
1 Make it new John (Duncan Campbell) Seamlessly blending archival footage with newly scripted material, Campbell pushes documentary form in his study of John DeLorean’s ill-fated foray into Northern Ireland and the effect his fall from grace had on the local workforce.
2 blue mantle (Rebecca Meyers) A stately, poetic meditation on the ocean, embracing literary, visual, and musical representations of its allure and associated dangers.
3 Forms Are Not Self-Subsistent Substances (Samantha Rebello) Contemplating medieval perception via Aristotelian philosophy, Rebello’s unsettling film blends church bells and grotesque stone carvings with bestiary images and animal flesh in abstracted, tactile close-ups.
4 Visionary Iraq (Gabriel Abrantes and Benjamin Crotty) Abrantes’s transgressive films pull no punches. Here, an incestuous brother-sister duo leave their parents to serve in Iraq, in a melodrama acted with beyond-Kuchar excessiveness exacerbated by unnerving, dubbed dialogue.
5 It, heat, hit (Laure Prouvost) This new video for Tate Britain’s Art Now Lightbox is a sensory overload, featuring direct address, on-screen text, fast cuts, surround sound, and narrative disruption—all delivered with mischievous humor. Passive viewers need not apply.
6 Get Out of the Car (Thom Andersen) In a rejoinder to his monumental Los Angeles Plays Itself, Andersen records the temporary sights of his city, accompanied by a rousing SoCal jukebox. Killer comment from a bystander: “When you make a movie about something, call me.”
7 Brune Renault (Neïl Beloufa) French artist Neïl Beloufa’s filmmaking is a sculptural practice, in terms of building both sets and viewing situations. In his latest effort, four young actors play out clichéd scenes around a quartered Renault, which allows “impossible” camera movements while the production process is laid bare.
8 Sugar Slim Says (Lewis Klahr) Klahr shifts up a gear, trading his characteristically nostalgic collage palette for imagery from contemporary graphic novels, toeing the urban hard line with two knockout, sleazy tunes by Marc Anthony Thompson.
9 Journal and Remarks (David Gatten) Gatten measures a latter-day journey to the Galápagos against Darwin’s historic voyage, cutting views of the islands with pages from evolutionary texts at exacting twenty-nine-frame intervals.
10 Perfumed Nightmare (Kidlat Tahimik) Revived by Ben Rivers for a screening at Whitechapel Gallery in relation to his own forthcoming film The Other Side of Nowhere, Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik’s 1977 feature (his first) is an absolute joy to behold. Fresh, insightful, and completely life-affirming—a welcome antidote to the ironic, cynical pastiches that dominate so much contemporary art.