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Author Archive for Signe Kassow

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Contemplation on life

Here is a ‘Wunderlist’ for this years CPH:DOX. Today, London and Copenhagen is experiencing stormy, rainy Autumn weather. Therefore, I’m in an autumn-mood where all I need is a warm cup of tea, fire by the fireplace and a film about the contemplation on life. The films on this list all have contemplative elements and poetic storytelling methods. I highly recommend you to book tickets for, at least, these films at this years CPH:DOX. The quotes are taken from CPH:DOX‘s own notes on the films.

Manakamana
by Stephanie Spray

How can a film that is exclusively shot in one-takes with a static camera on a cable car in Nepal also be one of this year’s most celebrated cinematic achievements, especially considering that it is only three months old?

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My Love Awaits Me By the Sea
by Mais Darwazah

In her poetic travelogue film, inspired by the artist and poet Hasan Hourani’s dreams and visions, the filmmaker Mais Darwazah sets off for the first time to her homeland Palestine and to the beach-front esplanade in Jaffa, where Hourani lost his life in a drowning accident.

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The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear
by Tinatin Gurchiani

With an open invitation to come to the casting for a film, the director Tinatin Guarchini gathers a group of aspiring youths in a small Georgian village. Hopeful, but still… Filmed flat against a wall and confronted by Gurchiani’s questions, the aspiring actors share their views about the future and about themselves with a striking level of honesty.

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The Real Life
by Arnaud Gerber

A philosophical film work based on the French philosopher Simone Weil’s thoughts, beautifully translated into grainy 16mm footage from early modernism’s absolute center, Paris, and divided into chapters like stations on a night-time ride with the metro.

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After You
by Marius Dybwad-Brandrud

The silent drama of life and death has rarely been treated in such a stylistically consistent way as in the unmistakably Nordic ‘After You’ – and it hits you with all the more force that the film’s director has far more personal matters at stake in his film than the bright and crystal clear images at first suggest.

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Belleville Baby
by Mia Engberg

An unexpected phone call from a former lover becomes the starting point for a tale of love, nostalgia and bygone days. After a long time without any contact, the Swedish film director Mia Engberg receives a phone call from her former lover Vincent.

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In Focus

One of my favourite sources of news has to be Alan Taylor’s blog In Focus featured on The Atlantic. Here, Taylor curates photography of current and historical, global events. Often, I find that the photos he selects, build an even stronger connection with what’s going on in our world than many newspaper articles. Here is a selection of photos from a post about The Broken Lives of Fukushima.

More than two and a half years have passed since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, wrecking the Fukushima nuclear plant and claiming nearly 16,000 lives.

Waves break on barriers as a typhoon hits the area near Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on September 16, 2013. Almost all the beaches in Fukushima prefectures remain closed since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In July this year, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), a company that runs the crippled Daiichi plant reversed months of denials and admitted that hundreds of tons of groundwater that has mixed with radioactive material may be flowing out to the sea every day.(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

A table is still set for customers at a restaurant in the abandoned town of Namie, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

The decaying control panel of a public address system, inside damaged primary school in Namie, on September 22, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Messages of support are written on a blackboard in a science class in a primary schoolin Namie, on September 22, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Copies of Fukushima Minpo newspapers with headlines “M(magnitude) 8.8, largest in the country”, dated a day after the devastating 2011 earthquake, sit stacked inside an office in the evacuated town of Namie, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Crane.tv

Crane.tv is a perfect site if you want to be inspired. They call themselves a “contemporary-culture video magazine, focusing on arts, design, style, food and travel around the world”. Here is a selection of some of their video portraits.

Kate Moross, Art Director.

Marcio Kogan, Architect.

Jo Ratcliffe, Art Director, Illustrator and Animator.

Maria, Head Sommelier.

Hush

Betty Compson in The Docks of New York

Sometimes you don’t need sound. You just need the glamorous world of film noir, it’s excessive use of soft light and cigarette smoke. This is one of those times. The Docks of New York (1928) by Josef von Sternberg starring George Bancroft and Betty Compson is a silent film noir drama about stoker Bill Roberts who gets into trouble during a brief shore leave when he falls for Mae, a dance-hall girl. The film comes together in the combination of cinematography by Harold Rosson, expressionist set design by Hans Dreier, and the sensual performances by Bancroft and Compson.YouTube Preview ImageYouTube Preview Image

Betty Compson and George Bancroft in The Docks of New York

The Dante Quartet

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’?
— Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage is known for his experimental films created by painting or glueing images directly onto celluloid. This way he opened up a different way of seeing, challenging our perception and bringing us back to a child-like way of seeing unruled by man-made laws of perspective. The Dante Quartet is one of his experimental short films from 1987 it was inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and took six years to produce. The effect of the images being painted directly onto the celluloid is both meditative and challenging for the viewer.
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Storytellers

My lovely friend, Natalia Podgorska just graduated from photography at London College of Communication, and I want to show you her final project, which I really like. It’s called ‘Storytellers’ and as she describes on her page it’s ‘an attempt to combine the act of performance and the post-performative body of art through the photographic medium.’

The project consists of a video piece and a series of photographs where the four storytellers, create, share and destroy a piece of reality  given to them, all at once.

Sam

Meiwei

Rab

Yulong

For me, the photographs work really well together with the video as they become an extension of the story and expand it because we mix it with our memory of each person’s story and the aesthetic of the photographs. The photographs are highly sensual and the texture and colour of the food mixed with the dirty table possess an energy of something forbidden, like when your parents told you to stop playing with your food.

Check out Natalia’s other work here. I will also do an interview with her in the coming future.

Eileen Agar

Earlier this month I went to Tate Britain to see their ‘Library and Archive show and tell‘ with examples of the artist Eileen Agar‘s work and some of her love letters to and from fellow artist Paul Nash, with whom she had a passionate affair. I was very inspired by her thoughts and drawings. In particular by a snippet from her book ’A Look at My Life‘ which she wrote in collaboration with Andrew Lambirth in 1988, and where she describes her work method:

‘My own method is to put myself in a state of receptivity during the day. I sit about sometimes for a quarter of an hour or more, wondering what on earth I am doing, and then suddently I get an idea for something. Either it is the beginning of a title or just the germ of a visual image. Later on, if I am stuck with a half-finished painting, I might take a snooze and after that it comes together quite simply’ (p. 125)

Eileen Agar by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies / National Portrait Gallery, London


Two Lovers, 1931 by Eileen Agar


Family Trio, 1931 by Eileen Agar


The Reaper, 1938 by Eileen Agar

A Woman Under the Influence

This film from 1974 by John Cassavetes is without doubt one of my all time favourites. Gena Rowlands immediately became my idol after seeing it. I really don’t want to say much more about it, I just hope this clip below encourages you to watch it!

The dying swan scene:
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Legs

Here is a visual post for you guys. Photography by Guy Bourdin.





Daisies

Daisies was made in 1966 by the Czech filmmaker Věra Chytilová and was considered a key film of the Czech New Wave. It was banned in 1968 shortly after the “Prague Spring” by the Soviet Communist regime, as was Chytilová from making any new films in Czechoslovakia until 1975.

Věra Chytilová

The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact stopped the creative and social freedoms of “Prague Spring” when they decided to invade Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968. Therefore, many Czechoslovakian artists’ reactions were to employ metaphors, humour, and radical narrative play to express the dangers and hypocrisies of life under a repressive regime. In order to make subversive political statements, ambiguity was a necessity.


Daisies depicts the two female protagonists Marie and Marie, who are claiming that the world is “bad” and therefore they will be too.

The story is structured with a non-linear narrative, and via jump cuts we are thrown between incoherent scenes, never quite knowing what will come next. The film consists of montages of contradictory imagery, a baffling dialogue, asynchronous sound, colours that change from full to monochrome to psychedelic, anti-naturalistic optical effects and sudden accelerated motion.

The Maries want to go against the norms of society, and act out as they see fit. They do this when they date older men, get particularly drunk in a fancy nightclub and steal food, drinks or money from other people.

Many aspects of Daisies make it appear like a feminist film. The Maries are constantly sexually teasing older men, making them pay for expensive dinners only to send them away in trains afterwards. At one point the Maries cut up phallic-looking food with a pair of scissors and eat it. Many of the men they meet seem like symbols of the patriarchal society, and the Maries’ actions therefore become a symbol of how they “castrate” it.

The main thing the Maries like to do is to eat, and they do this in a manner that also goes against the norms of society. They eat almost all the time, and if not, they ask people for food or talk about it. They even seem to confuse the meaning of love with food, and they question why men do not simply say “egg” instead of “I love you”.

Daisies is a film with many possible interpretations, and Chytilová is concealing an important message underneath the veils of ambiguity. The veil Chytilová has chosen is highly Dadaist. With Daisies Chytilová challenges our conventional understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

In a nod to the Maries’ challenge of societal norms, the final title of the film reads: “This film is dedicated to those who only get upset over a “messed-up trifle””. It is a stab at the passivity of the bourgeoisie society, underlining Chytilová’s belief that instead of being provoked by a step outside of the rigid borders of etiquette, they should be provoked by much more pressing issues such as the Soviet occupation, the constant threat of violence that follows with the occupation, destructions of war and the lack of freedom of speech.

Watch the trailer here:
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