Synopsis 97

Wednesday 24th October 2012, 7-9pm at Coventry Artspace

The second installment of Lanchester Gallery Projects’ Synopsis ’97 is an eclectic mix of avante-garde films from local video artist and documentary maker Alan Van Wijgerden, who over the last 3 decades has methodically recorded the political transformation in Coventry. Each film was introduced by Alan, who talked a little about how each film was made and with what equipment which was very interesting, and gave a deeper insight into the films.

The films that we watched were selected by local video artist and documentary maker Alan Van Wijgerden, who has methodically recorded the political transformation in Coventry over the last three decades. The programme was as follows;

Lucifer Rising
Kenneth Anger, 1981, 29 minutes
A magical ritual aimed at bringing on the new aeon

This was a highly experimental film with some bizarre imagery and quite jarring music. It wasn’t my cup of tea at all, it felt marginally like I was being hypnotised. I find many experimental films to be jarring visually, and very difficult to “enjoy”. I did admire the beauty of it, and the cleverness in telling a story in that way, but it wasn’t my sort of thing! The whole film can be viewed on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTjXYKmBsxU

Une Robe D’ete (A Summer Dress)
Francois Ozon, 1996, 15 minutes
While on holiday with his boyfriend, Luc has an encounter with a stranger on the beach that complicates his already ambivalent sexuality.

This was probably my favourite film of the night because it’s very amusing. Its a comedy about sexuality, but it was very watchable and quite funny. Its nicely shot, with lots of bright colours which is visually pleasing, and its just generally uplifting and entertaining; if a little odd! It was definitely not what I was expecting to be shown. Again the full film can be watched here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj19BZuZhIU

Thames Barrier
William Raban, 1977, 8 minutes
A visionary film with moments of light and colour and giant structures that fill the mind with awe.

This is a short time lapse film, with three different screens showing the Thames Barrier from three different angles. Its visually striking and beautiful to watch, however it goes on for a very long time and not a lot happens. Although I can appreciate the visual beauty, it wasn’t something that kept me hooked for the full 8 minutes.

Klipperty Klopp
Andrew Kotting, 1984, 12 minutes
A post punk piece of pagan sensibility.

Having been introduced as a film that contained beastiality, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one, however its not at all what I expected. I’m not even sure I can say its a visually striking piece, because the grainy black and white, often too bright to see whats going on, made it very difficult to watch. I didn’t understand the message, and perhaps that’s just me being dense, but it made no sense to me at all. It was highly repetitive; the narrator kept repeating himself and the film was just a man running in circles. I came away wondering what I had watched, and I still don’t get it even now, having had some time to think about it!

Amelia and the Angel
Ken Russell, 1958, 26 minutes
A young girl’s desperate attempt to replace her damaged angel wings.

This was probably my second favourite, because it had a narrative and characters. Its a black and white silent film, which is different to what I would normally choose to watch, but its a good, classic style. Its a very simple story, but quite enjoyable although the little girl did frustrate me sometimes! The whole film is available to watch on Youtube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKxInwDkmrc

Overall this was a very interesting night, Alan Van Wijgerden talked about how the films were made, which allowed for a deeper understanding. He explained in detail the types of cameras and the different methods used, which was very interesting for someone who has only ever been familiar with your average digital camera! Although the short films shown are very different to the kinds of films I intend to make, it was interesting to look at such an eclectic array of short films and compare the styles. For the script writing task (162 MC) it was very useful as a means of research into existing short films, I learned a lot about how the short films are made, which gave me a deeper understanding of the short film process. In terms of script writing itself,  Une Robe D’ete and Amelia and the Angel had more conventional and less experimental narratives. What I liked about both of them was that the stories were short and concise yet interesting. Something I find with short films, and writing or coming up with ideas for short films is that often the stories don’t work or are unsatisfying because it feels like they have been condensed too much, as though they should be part of a larger narrative. It was interesting to listen to the dialogue while watching the films to see how much or how little dialogue is needed to convey a short narrative. From this I understand that its best to have as little dialogue as possible, and to keep it sounding natural. The pace of both of these short films was quite fast, and it held the audience’s attention which is also something I will take into account when I write my script.

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