Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Heartbreak Dissected

Stumbling around the internet is not always just about surfing the debris riddled tsunami of funny cats, fail GIFS, freaked out music videos and people showing their bits. This clip found me during a youtube binge and I was surprised I'd never searched for it in the first place. It's a simple voice over explanation by my-lord-and-master Claire Denis of one of my favourite scenes in cinema: the bar at night dance scene in '35 Shots of Rum'. I'm not sure how the scene plays out of context, but in the film it's a heartbreaker. All looks and glances that conceal and reveal the world of the film (and who knew The Commodore's 'Nightshift' could be so achingly heartbreaking?). Thanks internet. You are wise and kind and benevolent when you want to be.

Pain of Intimacy

all images: Guillaume Simoneau

I've got endless admiration for artists, photographers and filmmakers that place themselves with profound vulnerability into the centre of their work. It's a strange and delicate dance, especially in an age of confessional living. The meeting of fiction and lived reality is a fragile balance. Intensely difficult, also, to experience on the other side of the artwork unless there is true emotion and complexity concealed within the confessions being shared by the artist. If it works, you feel the pain of intimacy. If it fails, you feel the pain of humiliation.

We live in this strange era when, at once, so many artists, writers, photographers are making confessional work that purports to reveal so much of who they are and how they live through a kind of endless stream of their curated daily experience. Strangely, this very candour seems to linger only on the surface and not reveal an inner life. It's like getting naked and spreading your legs but keeping your face hardened and your eyes downcast. 

Sometimes, though, artists manage to render themselves truly vulnerable with the emotional complexity that we all nurse inside of us, exposing all the layered madness of experience and sensation that is impossible to distil into party snaps or photos of flares at night, friends making out or empty parking lots. This, when it works successfully, is usually achieved with the artistic equivalent of the evasion, secrecy, bluffing, subterfuge and accidental poetic connectedness with which we express emotion in our day to day lives. People like Wolfgang Tillmans, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin... These people open their world up with intimacy and lyricism and there is a direct connection with heartlines despite their divergent approaches. One younger artist whose work I recently discovered, and who I think has revealed this confessional intimacy from deep within in his work, is Quebecois artist Guillaume Simoneau and his project 'Love and War'.

(Go to Guillaume's site and click through to 'Love and War'. There are other slide shows of this work at other sites but it's worth considering the project as he arranges it.)

This specific work is strange and beautiful and achingly raw. It, as I understand it, an emotional and visual narrative of the period in which Guillame's girlfriend at the time, Caroline Annandale, enlisted in the US Army after the events of "9/11" and went to war. We learn, without ever understanding the details or events or chronology, that their relationship subsequently broke down and she married another man. We don't get a 'story'. What we get is yearning and desire and love and absence and mystery. Although the photographs reveal little of raw experience, it somehow feels far more intimate and exposing... You might think otherwise, but I'm pretty crazy for it. 


The Reasons Why.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Favourite Faces, Favourite Films #2

Favourite Faces, Favourite Films #1

Favourites #5

Emily Kai Bock's music video for Grimes 'Oblivion' was cultural capital for a long time; people slinging it around across every medium. It's a killer clip, no doubt, but, for me, the clip the same director made for Sebastien Schuller's 'Nightlife' is like an unmade, unfinished dream of perfection and melancholy. I fucking love it. It's got all the sadness and beauty and mess and danger of the night in it... and jeeeeezus, the photography by Evan Prosofsky (it was, according to reports, shot on Kodak 5219 stock and rated at ASA2000 to underexpose two stops, and then it was corrected in the digi grade). Bliss.

(Probably best to watch this on vimeo or at Emily Kai Bock's website in all it's glory rather than the pissy little window I get through blogspot.... either way, make sure you watch it.)

Sebastien Schuller - Nightlife from Emily Kai Bock on Vimeo.

Spaces Between

Our first public screenings of Galore happened these past weeks as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Of course it was bizarre and beautiful to be letting it loose on the screen. Of course it was overwhelming to hear people's thoughts. We can't imagine it could have gone better.

We got to meet and dine and drink with heroes (in the form of Jia Zhangke) and new filmmaking friends (who were also doing the walk of shame around the festival with their films rendering them nude and vulnerable). We got to bliss out to 30 or so new films and remember how many voices are yelling out from the screens. We got to eat endless dumplings, huge vats of chili and to roll around in tequila bars and rock clubs and destroy endless dance floors with bad moves and drunken mauling. We got to share in the celebration of Tim Winton's The Turning (one part of which, Small Mercies, we had made and was hidden amid the 17 diverse treasures in the film). We got to talk shit in front of crowds, present talks, struggle to articulate through hangovers, play heart DJ at the end of emotional nights and hang out with with friends we hadn't seen for far too long.

It is a kind of impossible reflection, thinking back on this first, final letting loose of a film. We were all there pushing it out kicking and screaming and, between the moment of release and the inevitable come down as life comes crashing back into your mind and senses, there is the blissful abyss of all of the sublime conversations where you discover the secrets of your film. People tell you the stories the film brought up in them, or the images that they responded to, or what moved them or outraged them and left them cold. This is the good stuff. The things you can't control or direct. The slippery, elusive space of dream and emotion between the film itself and the audience.

We got some amazing words back in the form of reviews. We also got some clumsy, angry inarticulate words of criticism. None of those words, glowing or disparaging can change the film as it exists in the world. So, it's time to return to the unfinished scripts, the begging and scrimping, the refuelling and reforming of forces to get onto the next thing.

Now, looking at the pile of scripts at various stages of completion, wondering in which direction back to swing the pendulum.

Oh, and PS, I designed this poster for the festival. I'm not sure if it will end up being anything like the release artwork when Hopscotch release the film, but I figured I should share it.

Readers of the World

"A photograph is not created by a photographer. What they do is just to open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world." 
images & words: Ferdinando Scianna 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Our Souls

''Stories in history are about the acquisition and practice of power. Stories at the human level are about the acquisition and the practice of the human soul. ''That's really what it's about. We tell stories because we're trying to fucking acquire a human soul. That shit doesn't come just because you're born with it. You've got to learn how to be human. You've got to practise it.''

Monday, August 12, 2013


"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part, that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them"
 Edwidge Danticat

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Starting Small

"Everything that I made afterwards, either good or bad, starts from there, from this film on the River Po."

Michelangelo Antonioni

Some Old Poorly Printed Film Strip Found Tucked Inside A Note Book This Morning