Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Including films by Ben Wheatley, Albert Serra, Kenneth Anger, David Rimmer, Lucy Raven, Tsai Ming-liang, Wang Bing, Helga Fanderl, Mati Diop, Robert Beavers, Miguel Gomes, Peter Hutton, Raya Martin and Mark Peranson, Jean-Marie Straub and more
TORONTO – For cinephiles, art-lovers and adventurous audiences, the Toronto International Film Festival’s Wavelengths programmecurates a bold and exciting collection of 46 works of varying length that expand the notions of cinema. The programme includes innovation in narrative and documentary filmmaking in addition to its four core experimental shorts programmes,which highlight the best in artist-made film and video from around the world. Bringing together celebrated auteurs like Albert Serra, Ben Wheatley, Cristi Puiu, Tsai-Ming liang and João Pedro Rodrigues, local talents Stephen Broomer and Chris Kennedy, and internationally renowned artists such as Nina Könnemann, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, and Kenneth Anger into one space, this lineup represents a diverse and dynamic range of visual expression.
“Following the success of last year’s expansion,Wavelengths continues its commitment to excellence in auteurist, experimental and artist-driven cinema,” said Andréa Picard, Wavelengths lead curator. “With a diverse programme that includes emerging and established artists alongside some of today’s most influential filmmakers, Wavelengths celebrates the art of cinema and participates in a rich international dialogue about the moving image.”
This year’s highlights include the world premiere of the Academy Film Archive’s restoration of David Rimmer’s classic of the Canadian avant-garde, Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper; the North American premieres of Catalan iconoclast Albert Serra’s Story of My Death, Rithy Panh’s A Missing Picture, winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the latest film by Harvard’s innovative Sensory Ethnography Lab, MANAKAMANA by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez; the world premieres of Raya Martin and Mark Peranson’s anticipated La ultíma película, and new films by avant-garde masters Peter Hutton, Nathaniel Dorsky and Robert Beavers; Ramon Zürcher’s astonishing feature debut The Strange Little Cat; award-winning works A Thousand Suns by Mati Diop and Nefandus by Carlos Motta, as well as Akram Zaatari’s Venice Biennial commission, Letter to a Refusing Pilot.
SHORT FILM PROGRAMMES
Wavelengths 1: Variations On...
Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper David Rimmer (Restoration courtesy of Academy Film Archive), Canada
Pop Takes Luther Price,USA
Airship Kenneth Anger, USA
El Adios Largos Andrew Lampert,Mexico/USA
The Realist Scott Stark,USA
TIFF is honoured to launch Wavelengths 2013 with the world premiere of the Academy Film Archive’s new restoration of Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper, David Rimmer’s 1970 classic of the Canadian avant-garde. Opening with a fragment of a female factory worker as she unravels a sheet of cellophane, which then morphs into a mesmerizing wave of spectral apparitions and alchemical and sonic permutations, Variations perfectly sets the tone for this program of cinematic deviations. With Pop Takes, Luther Price transforms a terrific thrift-store find into a reflexive Warholian catwalk upon which twirling women and jaunty men sashay with decadent, late-’70s zeal, the film’s coarse optical sound and images in negative creating a strange dissonance with the poppy polka-dotted scene. Kenneth Anger’s Airship series consists of three short films, which exhume newsreel footage of mighty dirigibles hovering ominously in the sky. The filmmaker’s characteristic fusion of magic, symbolism, mystery and myth imbues the already incredible footage with an eerie, supernatural quality.
In El Adios Largos, artist-archivist Andrew Lampert undertakes a speculative restoration of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye based on the premise that the film’s negative has been lost and the sole surviving print is incorrect in every way: 16mm rather than 35mm, black and white instead of Technicolor, and dubbed into Spanish (N.B. proper prints and a negative do exist, just not in Lampert’s possession!).With dubious methods used to achieve authenticity, El Adios Largos is at once an uncanny aesthetic experience and a playful exploration of the philosophical conundrums involved for those working to preserve film history for generations to come.
Finally, Scott Stark leads us through a dizzying array of consumer goods in his stereoscopic mannequin melodrama The Realist. Composed of flickering still images, this entrancing romp conjures retail worlds both familiar and strange, in which chiseled mannequins may in fact be communing with each other amid the overwhelming array of apparel. Whether viewed as consumerist critique or spellbinding, operatic fantasy, The Realist employs a deft binary structure that skews toward the metaphysical.
Wavelengths 2: Now & Then
Instants Hannes Schüpbach, Switzerland
Pepper’s Ghost Stephen Broomer, Canada
Man in Motion, 2012 (Homme en mouvement, 2012) Christophe M. Saber, Ruben Glauser and Max Idje, Switzerland
Flower Naoko Tasaka, Japan/USA
Constellations (Konstellationen) Helga Fanderl,Germany
Proposing simplicity as a radical antidote to today’s fervent desire for intricacy, these films and videos draw upon either a collaborative process or an intimate subjective encounter to explore the correspondence between images and their perception. Exquisitely shot on 16mm in the French countryside near Avignon, Hannes Schüpbach’s Instants explores the nature of spontaneous time as related to the thinking of French writer Joël-Claude Meffre, transcending portraiture as it not only records the poet working, but also develops a memory of its own. Pepper’s Ghost, by Torontonian Stephen Broomer, transforms an office formerly used for observation studies into a tunnel of performative, transfixing illusionism, creating surprising images using filters, fabric and a combination of sunlight and fluorescents. Recalling Slidelength (1969–71), Michael Snow’s slideshow of plastic gels and hand gestures, Pepper’s Ghost is a prolonged expression of demystified mystification, whose startling results are bolstered by a bold soundtrack. A contemporary version of Muybridgean motion studies meets Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase in Ruben Glauser, Max Idje and Christophe M. Saber’s Man in Motion, 2012. Constructed from the delays in real-time video feedback and recorded onto black-and-white 16mm, the film forms a multiple space via the shifting angles of view in the mysterious passages of a video eye.
Naoko Tasaka’s sphinx-like Flower unfolds like a children’s story before it plumbs the depths of both a physical and metaphorical surface, as straightforward narration gives way to sublimated abstraction. Employing a number of multi-format techniques, Flower displays a compelling, duelling impulse that hovers between a grid and a waterfall. Constellations, a recent grouping of 16mm colour silent blow-ups by Super 8 artist Helga Fanderl, returns the viewer to the natural world, whose beauty has been observed and rendered with a profound curiosity, a patient gaze and an extraordinary ability to capture visual patterns and textures. Whether following at close range the semi-circular motion of a handsome, pacing leopard, its spots evoking rhythmic patterns through Fanderl’s intuitive shooting process, or closely studying a tray of glassware on a ship as the sea reflects and refracts through their crystalline shapes, the artist fully gives herself over to the present moment and allows the audience to bask in it.
Wavelengths 3: Farther Than the Eye Can See
Farther Than the Eye Can See Basma Alsharif, United Arab Emirates
Main Hall Philipp Fleischmann, Austria
45 7 Broadway Tomonari Nishikawa, USA
Bann Nina Könnemann, Germany
Dry Standpipe (Suchy Pion) Wojciech Bakowski, Poland
Gowanus Canal Sarah J. Christman, USA
Nefandus Carlos Motta, USA/Spain
A sense of geographic, spatial and historical freefall attends this programme of works that takes its title from Basma Alsharif’s eponymous video. Visually gripping and intelligently constructed, Farther Than the Eye Can See continues Alsharif’s essayistic explorations of statelessness through a tale of a mass exodus of Palestinians from Jerusalem recounted over a dense, stroboscopic cityscape. A different stroboscopic effect is achieved in Philipp Fleischmann’s Main Hall, which uses 19 specially designed cameras to record the space inside the main exhibition hall of the Vienna Secession. While this bastion of modernity has been crucial to the development of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, film has eluded its mandate; Main Hall adds a purely cinematographic gesture (à la Gordon Matta-Clark) to the space’s history by having it look at its own architecture.
Overlapping light and space continue in Tomonari Nishikawa’s 45 7 Broadway, which captures the paralyzing pace and conflicting rhythms of Times Square. Shot on black-and-white 16mm through red, green and blue filters, then optically printed onto colour film through these same filters, 45 7 Broadway is less jazzy than Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie but equally eye-popping in its colour and illusionistic effect. With a focus on a decidedly less populated though equally uncanny urbanscape, in Bann Nina Könnemann clandestinely observes the increasingly ostracized smokers in London’s financial district, her keen eye and mischievous editing creating a portrait of alienation, self-consciousness, and perhaps even shame.
A raw, personal, confessional narration undercuts the abstract images in Polish artist, musician and poet Wojciech Bakowski’s interlaced video collage Dry Standpipe. Condensing home videos into blocks of abstraction, Bakowski creates a startling account of depression, numbness and paradoxical lucidity. Sarah J. Christman continues her 16mm ecological explorations with Gowanus Canal, in which contamination and compression of refuse intimate a stultifying state for one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. In Carlos Motta’s award-winning Nefandus, a pristine flowing river in the Colombian Caribbean suppresses a tainted history of “wild” beauty and colonialist religious and sexual subjugation. An evocative essay on pre-conquest homoeroticism, Nefandus searches for traces of untold stories and stigmatized historical accounts.
Wavelengths 4: Elysium
Trissákia 3 Nick Collins, UK
Brimstone Line Chris Kennedy, Canada
Listening to the Space in my Room Robert Beavers, Switzerland
Mount Song Shambhavi Kaul, USA/India
Natpwe, the feast of the spirits Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel, France/Burma
Beginning with the ruins of a Greek Byzantine church and ending with trance rituals in Burma, this programme sketches a trajectory of shifting perspectives and iconographic references, from the cloistered and intimate to the expansive and unrestrained. Nick Collins’ Trissákia 3 documents the eponymous c. 13th-century Greek church, its cracked though surprisingly intact frescoes, its crumbling stones and the dubious scaffolding that encases it, his camera revelling in the supernal beauty created by the light and shadow play resulting from its damaged openings. Delineated views similarly make up Chris Kennedy’s Brimstone Line, in which three freestanding grids placed along the Credit River in rural Ontario (reminiscent of the Dürer Grid used by Renaissance draughtsmen in order to achieve accurate proportions) become devices through which the stationary camera frames the landscape and motivates a series of zooms.
Ostensibly a portrait of a place where the artist had resided until recently, the new film by Robert Beavers conjures not only the memory but also the physical presence of those who have previously stayed there. Adhering to a solitary intimacy while simultaneously acting as an ode to human endeavour and shared impulses toward fulfillment through art, Listening to the Space in my Room is a moving testament to existence (whose traces are found in literature, music, filmmaking, gardening) and our endless search for meaning and authenticity. The film’s precise, yet enigmatic sound-image construction carries a rare emotional weight.
A strange yet familiar sense of place dominates Shambhavi Kaul’s deceptively disorienting and visually entrancing Mount Song. As a wild, foreboding gust courses through the night, a subdued elegance is brought forth from past cinema spectacles, whose generic, albeit highly suggestive set constructions remain lodged in the imaginary. In Natpwe, the feast of the spirits, co-directors Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel have produced an immersive, seemingly timeless document of an annual Burmese trance ritual that dates back to the 11th century. Shot in Super 8 and 16mm in sooty black and white, the film conveys the astonishing sense of liberation of tens of thousands of bodies and minds — a mass expression of faith, but also a rapturous respite from societal intolerance.
MEDIUM LENGTH FILMS
Un conte de Michel de Montaigne and The King’s Body and Redemption
Un conte de Michel de Montaigne Jean-Marie Straub North American Premiere
“How easily we pass from waking to sleeping! With how little interest we lose the knowledge of light and of ourselves! Peradventure, it could seem useless and against nature, the faculty of sleep which deprives us of all action and of all feeling, were it not that through this nature does instruct us that she hath equally made us to die as to live, and, from life, presents us the eternal state which she reserveth for us after it to accustom us the reunto and remove from us the fear of it.”
The King’s Body (O Corpo de Afonso) Jõao Pedro Rodrigues North American Premiere
How would it look like, the body of Dom Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, tutelary figure, subject to successive mythifications throughout Portuguese history?
Redemption Miguel Gomes North American Premiere
1975, a village in Portugal: a child writes to his parents. 2011, Milan: an old man remembers his first love. 2012, Paris: a man talks to his baby daughter. 1977, Leipzig: a woman is getting married. Where and when have these four poor devils begun searching for redemption?
A Thousand Suns and Letter to a Refusing Pilot
A Thousand Suns (Mille soleils) Mati Diop International Premiere
Djibril Diop Mambety filmed Touki Bouki in 1972. Mory and Anta are in love. The two young lovers share the same dream of leaving Dakar to go to Paris, but when the time comes, Anta heads off andMory stays on the quays, alone and incapable of facing the demands of his land. Forty years later, A Thousand Suns (Mille Soleils) investigates the personal and universal heritage of Touki Bouki. What has happened since then? The hero in the film, Magaye Niang, has never left Dakar, and now, the old cowboy wonders what happened to Anta, the love of his youth. Family stories, exile and cinema blend in intimate and mythical spheres.
Letter to a Refusing Pilot Akram Zaatari North American Premiere
In the summer of 1982, a rumour made the rounds about an Israeli fighter pilot who had been ordered to bomb a target in Lebanon. Knowing the building was a school, he veered off course and dropped his bombs into the sea instead. Letter to a Refusing Pilot is a film that tells the story of a public school and the public housing project that surrounds it in Saida, and reflects on refusal as a decisive and generative act. The work considers the excavation of narratives and the circulation of images in times of war.
Three Landscapes preceded by Song and Spring
Song Nathaniel Dorsky Canadian Premiere
“Song was photographed in San Francisco from early October through the winter solstice in late December, 2012.” –N.D.
Spring Nathaniel Dorsky World Premiere
“Spring was photographed during the months following the winter solstice. I wanted to see if I could make a film that was in itself a garden, a film that, like the world of plants, would yearn and stretch in the oncoming light.” –N.D.
Three Landscapes Peter Hutton World Premiere
A silent film study of human figures on three distinct landscapes in the world. Detroit, Michigan, the Hudson River Valley, and the Dallol Depression in northeastern Ethiopia.
A Field in England Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom North American Premiere
A psychedelic trip into magic and madness from Ben Wheatley, award-winning director of Down Terrace, Kill List and Sightseers.
A Spell to Ward off the Darkness Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, Estonia/France North American Premiere
A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness follows a single character at three disparate moments in his life: as one member of a 15-person collective on a small Estonian island, alone in the wilderness of Northern Finland, and as the singer of a neo-pagan black metal band in Norway.
I’m the same, I’m an other Caroline Strubbe, Belgium World Premiere
A man in his 30s is on the run with a nine-year-old girl. As they take a ferry to the United Kingdom, traces of a common past come to light — a past filled with loss and sorrow. Fleeing in secret, they end up hiding in a small apartment on the seafront, where they live day-to-day, exploring each other’s emotional territories. Mourning will bind them, but is this alliance of dependence appropriate for them and for the outside world?
La ultíma película Raya Martin and Mark Peranson, Canada/Denmark/Mexico/Philippines World Premiere
A famous American filmmaker travels to the Yucatán to scout locations for his last movie. The Mayan Apocalypse intercedes.
RP31 Lucy Raven, USA Canadian Premiere
RP31 is an animation made from 31 film projection test patterns and calibration charts. Used in the motion picture industry to test for focus, aperture, field steadiness and framing, these patterns are images you're not supposed to see, which are made to make you see better.
MANAKAMANA Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, USA/Nepal North American Premiere
MANAKAMANA portrays pilgrims as they travel in state-of-the-art cable cars high above a Nepali jungle to the temple of the wishfulfilling goddess. Shot entirely inside airborne gondolas, this new work from the Sensory Ethnography Lab is a portrait of spiritual experience against a backdrop of rapid modernization. It extends the ambitions of transcendental cinema beyond the limits of fiction, documenting connections between the sacred and the profane in daily life.
Pays Barbare Yvervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, France North American Premiere
“A film necessary for us at this time, about fascism and colonialism... With our 'Analytical Camera”we returned to rummage in private and anonymous archives of Ethiopia over the film frames of the Italian colonial period (1935-1936). The Colonial eroticism. The naked body of women and the 'body' of the film. Images of the Duce in Africa. Body frames of Mussolini and the 'mass' 1945, after the Liberation.” – Yvervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi
Story of My Death Albert Serra, Spain/France North American Premiere
Loosely based on the autobiography of Casanova, the film depicts the journeys of the famous libertine from the joyful, sensual and rationalistic 18th century Europe to his last days where violence, sex and dark romanticism reigned.
Stray Dogs (Jiao You) Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan/France North American Premiere
A father and his two children wander the margins of modern day Taipei, from the woods and rivers of the outskirts to the rain streaked streets of the city. By day the father scrapes out a meager income as a human billboard for luxury apartments, while his young son and daughter roam the supermarkets and malls surviving off free food samples. Each night the family takes shelter in an abandoned building. The father is strangely affected by a hypnotic mural adorning the wall of this makeshift home. On the day of the father's birthday the family is joined by a woman — might she be the key to unlocking the buried emotions that linger from the past?
The Battle of Tabatô Joao Viana, Portugal/Guinea-Bissau North American Premiere
After 30 years of exile, Baio is returning to Guinea-Bissau. His daughter Fatu is getting married to Idrissa, a famous African musician. The ceremony will take place in Tabatô, a village of griots and musicians.
The Disquiet, Ali Cherri World Premiere
Lebanon is a country whose geographical location on several fault lines has resulted in a number of violent earthquakes. Through an analytical approach to the seismic situation of the country, The Disquiet observes the catastrophe in the making. What if the threat of an imminent catastrophe was far more internal than ever suspected?
The Missing Picture (L’image manquante) Rithy Panh, Cambodia/France North American Premiere
“For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia... On its own, of course, an image cannot prove mass murder, but it gives us cause for thought, prompts us to meditate, to record history. I searched for it vainly in the archives, in old papers, in the country villages of Cambodia. Today I know: this image must be missing. I was not really looking for it; would it not be obscene and insignificant? So I created it. What I give you today is neither the picture nor the search for a unique image, but the picture of a quest: the quest that cinema allows.” – Rithy Panh
The Police Officer’s Wife Philip Gröning, Germany North American Premiere
A simple film. A man, a woman, a child. A small town. The square apartment. Perfect Sundays. The story of a young family. The ceaseless labour of love out of which emerges what is later called the soul of a person. Creating the cradle of love that nurtures the child’s evolving soul. Affection and distance. The father’s career at the local police department. And the mother solely devoted to caring for the child. The violence between husband and wife. We watch as this woman sinks. And how she does everything she can to save this child’s soul, to keep it intact, to let it grow. To teach the child love. The Police Officer’s Wife is a film about the virtue of love, the virtue of curiosity, the virtue of joy. And about the dark within us.
The Strange Little Cat Ramon Zürcher, Germany Canadian Premiere
A family get-together in a Berlin flat: preparations, conversations in the kitchen, an evening meal. Deliberately eschewing the larger picture, the film creates a wondrous world and assembles seemingly unspectacular details and snippets into an exciting choreography of the everyday.
‘Til Madness Do Us Apart Wang Bing, France/Hong Kong/Japan North American Premiere
Fifty men live in an isolated asylum for 12 months. They spend their days locked on one floor, with little contact even with the medical team. Each has been committed for a different reason. They have mental problems, killed people, or have upset some local officials. But once inside, they share the same empty life, walking along the same iron fence courtyard, looking for human warmth among their fellow sufferers.
Three Interpretation Exercises (Trois Exercises d’Interprétation) Cristi Puiu, Romania/France North American Premiere
Three films based on Three Conversations by Russian writer and philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. The actors' 'exercises' developed into a minimalistic trilogy on cinema and literature, social and spiritual life. The trilogy is the result of a workshop of famous Romanian director Cristi Puiu at the French artists’ studio Chantiers Nomades.
The Wavelengths Package is now on sale and includes 7 screenings (4 shorts programmes and 3 features) for $90, or $79 for students and seniors. Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the box office in person from10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 19.
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation andRBC. For more information, visit tiff.net.