Feeling a little bold this year I thought I might try out some of the more unusual fare that the London Film Festival has to offer and so dabbled in the Experimenta strand of films. The most appealing to me was a collection of short films grouped under the collective title of Cinema Re-acted with each short taking elements from existing films to tell their story. The result was a mixed bag that gave me an excuse to use my new star rating .gif and mostly went way over my head. Below is the run down. (My apologies to the film makers for being a philistine.)
Belle comme le jour
Director: Dominique Gonzalez-Foerester, Tristan Bera
We started with a short that completely left me cold. This was not only because of the bizarre style of dialogue but because it turned out to be a prequel to Belle de jour which I have never seen. So far I am completely out of my depth.
Director: Kerry Tribe
A much more accessible short here as we were presented with the death of two men in a large house, each shot in the head. Over the course of 29 minutes we see the pair’s deaths five times as we explore various iterations of what might have happened. In my head I interpreted this to be a comment on murder mystery films and the fact that who committed the murder is relatively arbitrary in fictional work. In fact what we were watching was five scenarios composed of dialogue from the dozens of films to have been shot in Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Dialogue from films including Death Becomes Her, X-Men, and Social Network were all intertwined so that they were unrecognisable. Quite enjoyable this one.
Director: Antoni Pinent
The reason I had bought a ticket in the first place was this visual collage of Grease. The director has seemingly taken a film copy of the classic musical and drawn on it and recut it to make a psychedelic strobing 20 minute nightmare/masterpiece. The image at the top shows just a small proportion of the visuals we were treated to and the short is something you’d expect to see at the Tate rather than your local Cineworld. At times this was a little too intense an experience but the film got some laughs and has some great moments.
The New World
Director: Ruth Novaczek
After two films I actually enjoyed things started to rapidly decline. This short was made up of dialogue and video from a variety of films with a new narration by the film’s director. Lasting 23 minutes I really struggled here as I tried to discern a narrative and decide if one even existed. If I was out of my depth before by this point I was drowning.
Director: Abigail Child
Perhaps the least penetrable of the six shorts is this thankfully brief film in which a close-up shot of a woman trimming her pubic hair is overlaid with various other images. Had the film gone on any longer I would most likely have had to break my golden rule and leave the cinema before a film has finished.
Director: David Leister, Lucy Harris
Sigh. The final short film comprised of shots panning across the surface of some shelves which bore the shadows of items that had been sitting upon them when a fire broke out and covered everything with soot. While the shelves themselves may be interesting to look at with their echoes of film equipment and celluloid but a 7 minute film seems a bit unnecessary.
Overall I would say that my first foray into experimental film making was a minor disaster.