Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘experimental’

Photo: Kino Lorber.
The film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, directed by Bill Morrison, is a project that got started after an Icelandic fisherman pulled up an old Soviet movie from the depths.

Remember this post on repurposing 1980s photos of New Orleans street life damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Today’s story on waterlogged 35mm film found by a fisherman reminds me that creative people keep discovering ways of working with damaged art to convey deeper messages. It’s as if the lost island of Atlantis wants to break through to our modern world.

Dan Schindel reports at Hyperallergic, “In 2016, a fisherman dredged up a case off the coast of Iceland that contained four reels of decades-old 35mm film. It looked like the beginning of an inspirational story about a precious movie rediscovery. But, anti-climactically, he’d merely found pieces of the 1968 Soviet mystery-comedy Derevenskiy Detektiv (‘Village Detective’) — which was, as filmmaker and historian Bill Morrison puts it, ‘not lost, rare, or even, to my mind … particularly good.’

“But such an unusual event still deserved scrutiny. What circumstances led this particular film to this completely unexpected place? Morrison’s investigation resulted in his new film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle.

“Morrison constructs his films — such as Decasia (2002) and The Great Flood (2013) — from raw, unrestored fragments of celluloid. In 2016’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, he told the story of a much more exciting rediscovery, how hundreds of lost films were dug up from under a skating rink in the Yukon. He showcases the images of these movies with every scratch, fade, and blur included.

“Each film print records two stories: the one a crew conjured together however long ago, and the record of everything that’s happened to the strip since its creation. The vagaries of the projection, transportation, and preservation of physical film leave it vulnerable to damage. Many archival projects focus on the first story, but Morrison is interested in both. …

“Finding some reels of Village Detective may not in itself be remarkable, but this specific reel has its own unique story, and Morrison finds value in that. His interrogation of the water-warped images becomes a rumination on mortality.

Village Detective starred Mikhail Zharov. To several 20th-century generations of Russians, he was a vital figure, an acclaimed and popular actor who worked with many of the titans at the forefront of Soviet cinema development, including Sergei Eisenstein. … Morrison was told about the fisherman’s discovery by his friend Jóhann Jóhannsson. …

“Through images of Village Detective and Zharov’s other films, as well as pieces from contemporary Soviet cinema and modern-day interviews with historians and preservationists, Morrison reconstructs the actor’s life and times, tracing the path of his career.

“The discovery of his work entombed at the bottom of the sea precipitates the audience’s own rediscovery of him — through the use of his films, that rediscovery becomes something like a resurrection. He’s dead, he’s gone, and yet there he is again. He may be hard to discern through the haze of distorted colors or the flurry of scratches, but you can appreciate the way he acts. …

“The past is supposed to just be what we remember, and yet in the act of watching a film, we are in communion with it. From what could have merely been a curiosity, Morrison constructs a haunted, haunting meditation.”

Whenever I see an offbeat movie like this (the most recent being Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I), I think of my friend Penny, now gone. She used to make offbeat, artsy but messy Super-8 films back in the ’60s, and I helped. Even though we both worked in the mornings, Penny was a great one for dragging me out of my apathy to go to downtown Philadelphia for a Kenneth Anger flic or an Andy Warhol. Sure do miss her.

More at Hyperallergic, here.

Read Full Post »

I love reading about and sometimes seeing offbeat and experimental theater. You may recall a couple recent posts on Iranian productions, for example — one play performed in a taxi, and another featuring a script the actors aren’t allowed to see until it’s time to go on stage.

So I was intrigued by a story in the Guardian about an experiment with one-on-one productions. Lyn Gardner writes, “Earlier this year I was lucky enough to take part in Whispers, a project created by the Exeter-based Kaleider, that takes the form of a co-operative gifting chain of performance, as a story and a metal tablet pass from person to person who each take responsibility for passing it on.

“At the Brighton fringe something similar is taking place with Host, a project created by the Nightingale Theatre that takes place in one of two bathing huts. Taking the form of a short text written by Tim Crouch … it works like this: You enter the bathing hut and somebody performs the text to you, and then you perform the text – reading from the script – to the next person.

“All participants subsequently get sent a copy of the script via email. This means that they can set off their own chains of reading and receiving, which creates in effect a tree that then has branches going off from it but which are all traceable back to that first performance by Tim Crouch in Brighton. It’s like a baton being passed.” More here.

This week, I’m having dinner with three other women who have at various times been active in the Concord Players. We meet up a couple times a year to indulge in theater talk as most of our other friends are not into that. I’ll be sure to pass along some of these experiments. The Concord Players isn’t a place that indulges in avant garde, but we all like hearing about what’s going on in the wider world.

“Host,” a one-on-one play at the Brighton Fringe Festival in England, is performed in this bathing hut.

Read Full Post »

I learned about an unusual artist today because I was following @FortPointArts on twitter. Her name is Heidi Kayser, and just when I no longer have an office with a view of Fort Point Channel, she has launched an art project on the water. Sigh.

Anyway, I went to her website and poked around. This blog entry from 2011 is a typically amusing one, and I think one of my readers may want to try the experiment:

“Sarah Rushford arrived today and we got right to work … The mission, as we chose to accept it, was to construct some sort of wearable platforms to hold the cameras on the back of my legs. Wonderful engineers that we are, Sarah and I  ingeniously came up with [contraptions] made of CD cases, zip ties, rubber bands, twine and alligator clips. …

“Sarah filmed me tramping across the beach. I filmed my ankles tramping across the beach. It was very surprisingly difficult to walk wearing the cameras — I couldn’t extend my knees very much, so finding balance in soft sand proved challenging but oddly meditative. My attention had to be focused on every step, otherwise I’d fall and damage the cameras.

“When we were nearly finished, the curious beach-goers who had been pretending to ignore me as I walked steadily and weirdly by them, came up to us and asked what we were doing.” Read more.

Photograph: Sarah Rushford

Read Full Post »

I had dinner with friends at Harvard Square’s Casablanca last night.

Hadn’t seen them in ages. Their older son is moving to New York City with his family this summer. A key attraction is an experimental “international” school opening in Chelsea in the fall. My friends’ granddaughter will start in the new middle school and their grandson in the new elementary school.

Avenues School is the brainchild of publishing whiz Chris Whittle, best known for his not-so-successful Edison Schools. He puts that experiment in a positive light on the Avenues website, saying that it helped to spark the charter school movement. My friends say that experienced and inventive educators from all over have rushed in to help with Whittle’s new global approach to education.

“Begin by thinking Avenues Beijing, Avenues London, Avenues São Paulo, Avenues Mumbai,” says the website. “Think of Avenues as one international school with 20 or more campuses. It will not be a collection of 20 different schools all pursuing different educational strategies, but rather one highly-integrated ‘learning community,’ connected and supported by a common vision, a shared curriculum, collective professional development of its faculty, the wonders of modern technology and a highly-talented headquarters team located here in New York City.”

Erik went to an international school in Wales, a United World College, and made lifelong friends from many nations. As Avenues plans to do, United World Colleges has campuses in different countries. The one in Wales is for high school, but other UWC schools are, like Avenues, preschool to 12th grade, even beyond. Kim Jong-Il’s grandson attends the one in Bosnia!

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: