Courtisane festival, notes on cinema, 23nd edition, 27 - 31 March 2024
“Last August, several filmmakers joined me to repair the splices in Markopoulos’s Eniaios. I interrupted our work for a moment; the generosity of James, Silvia, Nina, Alexandre and Julia prompted me to film them. Then I filmed James Edmonds a second time with the avocado plant that he had grown while we were working together.” (RB)
Bliss, Markopoulos’ first film after he moved from the USA to Europe, is a lyrical study of the interior of a Byzantine Church on the island of Hydra. Using only available light and edited entirely in camera, Bliss demonstrates the filmmaker’s aesthetic economy and rigour.
Warren Sonbert was one of the seminal figures working in American experimental film. He started making films in 1966 and before he was 20 years old the New York cinematheque offered him his first career retrospective. In Friendly Witness, Sonbert returned, after 20 years, to sound. A swirling montage of images - suggestive of loves gained and love lost - to the tunes of rock songs.
A Forest for the Neighbours
Charlotte Prodger works as a DJ to sustain her art practice. A Forest for the Neighbours relates an anecdote, told to her during one of her DJ shifts, about a teenage goth in a Scottish new town in 1980 performing the song A Forest by The Cure to her neighbours through her bedroom window. Prodger plays with how an anecdote can transmutate through time and space: the historical moment of the anecdote, the retelling of the story and the act of making a film about it.
“D. Hebdige writes in Digging for Britain (1992): ‘Britain is the home of the pop video and the pop video is an undecidable (ideal) commodity; neither pure entertainment, nor straightforward promotion; it is a commodity in its own right, designed to sell another commodity.’ Yet in this case, the commodity exchange is short-circuited. The music is not ‘by’ the artist (its comprised of samples from two well known records) and the video portrays an oblique narrative, that further complicates the song’s origins.” (DC/MH)
Come to the Edge
Come to the Edge uses a recording of the poet Christopher Logue reciting a poem originally written in 1968. The poem is combined with video footage shot in a 6th form common room. In the footage a good-humoured scene is suddenly transformed into something altogether more sinister as the group of schoolboys enact a ritual humiliation upon a seemingly older, mustachioed boy.
Deleuze un Album
Stephen Sutcliffe creates film collages from his extensive archive of video and audio recordings. His poetic films weave together fragments of the written and spoken word and broadcast images to create complex and disjointed relationships and often gain their inspiration from literary sources.
Mutiny - Is this what you were born for? Part 2
“Mutiny employs a panoply of expression, gesture, and repeated movement. Its central images are of women: at home, on the street, at the workplace, at school, talking, singing, jumping on trampolines, playing the violin. The syntax of the film reflects the possibilities and limitations of speech, while ‘politically, physically, and realistically’ flirting with the language of opposition.” (AC)
46/90 Falter 2
This film was produced as an advertisement spot for the Viennese city newspaper Falter. It is composed of five very quickly cut images, which were recorded in the subway.
“For Christian was filmed during a residency I had at Dartmouth College, New England, in spring 2013. Through Larry Polanski in the electronic music department I was introduced to Christian, who had recently retired from teaching but still lived locally. Christian is a natural raconteur and had stories of working alongside all the great 20th century composers Cage, Feldmann, Stockhausen, Tudor etc. He also spoke lucidly about the topics that have concerned his own music from working with non-musicians to indeterminacy, using text scores and political songs. One Sunday I travelled out to his farm which he runs with his wife and son, we spoke about music, peepers, the donkey and sheep and his relationship to Cornelius. I shot 400ft and edited it down to around half of that. The images are accompanied by Christian talking about his work and playing some short pieces on the piano, at home in Hanover, a week or so later.” (LF)
“Call them spontaneous or occasional films. I did not know if I would show this publicly when I filmed. The gift was Luke Fowler suggesting that I film his and Corin’s first child, Liath, while I visited them in Glasgow. The images are left in the order of filming, and the editing is only a few excisions.” (RB)