The Imagination Series

 

In 2012, Bombay Saphire ran an interesting competition called The Imagination Series, where filmmakers were invited to send in their interpretation of a script written by Geoffrey Fletcher. The five most imaginative entries were shortlisted and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013. Here are two of our favourites.

James W Griffiths’ Room 8 that also won a Bafta award for Short Film.

 

Alexis Barroso Gasco’s Concrete made us smile.

 

And looking back on the work these filmmakers have made in the past, we reckon James W Griffiths is someone to watch out for. Here’s a film he shot entirely on a Nokia N8 that won the Nokia Shorts competition 2011. Stuff that not only hits the spot, but actually makes you wish you had made it yourself.

 

Happy Monday!

The Magic of The Paper Cinema

 

Comprising a unique form of live animation and music, The Paper Cinema makes stories come alive with pen and ink drawings that are manipulated in real time before a camera that projects them onto a large screen.

Why go through all this trouble? Why not make an animation, you ask?

Well it’s precisely their handmade process that makes Paper Cinema magical. The drawings that Nicholas Rawling and Imogen Charleston move with artistic precision before the camera lens, the instrumental music performed at close proximity by Christopher Reed; all these aspects of film making and story telling sadly get lost in today’s world of ‘I now watch-everything-on-my-mobile-device’. Paper Cinema takes film making back to its basics, and gives us a story we can feel and see without it all being down to fancy technology.

Here’s a glimpse of the artistic processes involved in a Paper Cinema production. This is taken from a project called West that they did for Bristol’s Mayfest 2013.

 

La Grande Bellezza

This week we have designer and embroidery specialist Scott Ramsay Kyle discussing Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013)a compelling portrayal of present-day Rome in all its decadence.

Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013) is a combination of many wonderful things; a considered score, references to a crass contemporary art scene (only the stripper notices the child prodigy’s tears), fashion and its silhouette, and our protagonist –  a recently turned 65-year-old Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a slender, caring man, more Redford’s Gatsby than DiCaprio’s, a man who gets away with calling his cleaning lady a ‘little rascal’ without making it sound patronising or harsh.

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The film opens with a group of women singing above a pool of water, akin to a Greco-Roman chorus glancing down at the narrative as it unfolds. The camera then flips upside down to reveal a throb of party goers, living like devilish demons inside a choreographed moment, as if caught within the triptych Garden Of Earthly Delights for an unending period of temptation.
LA GRANDE BELLEZZA 3
As we get to know our sexagenarian Jep, he strolls along the river reflecting that at 26 he wanted to be part of Roma’s ‘whirlpool of the high-life’ and he succeeded in becoming its ‘King’. There are echoes of Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ here, not in terms of loss or forgetfulness, but of grace and poise and allowing key actors of a certain age the opportunity to examine and reveal themselves to the audience. But La Grande Bellezza is also enjoyably contradictory, as we grimace alongside the frenetic partying of awkward ‘Mum & Dad’ dancing, booze, drugs, a failed three-some, and a 104-year-old nun, Sister Maria who beckons the producers to increase their budget to fit in some CGI flamingos.
LA GRANDE BELLEZZA 4
After Jep kindly brings his friend Stefania (Galatea Ranzi) back to earth, it is with great care that he consoles her about ‘a life in tatters, just like the rest of us’, in a way that is touching and not vindictive, serious but not emotionally stifling. And again when at a dinner party someone asks him of his guest, a quiet poet, “why does he not talk?”, Jep simply replies; “because he listens.”
A beautifully constructed score, the music balances from high synth-euro pop Bob Sinclair in the wild party scenes to Georges Bizet, in the more tonal moments. But this all feels natural to the characters who live lives governed by their Epicurean hedonism, like a late 80’s Malcolm MacLaren fusion. Time however does finally catch up with some of them as we start to lose few of Jep’s friends, but it already feels like time to let them go.
LA GRANDE BELLEZZA 5
La Grande Bellezza is a high-end Italian parody of reality, that makes you feel like you’ve fallen into a soap opera but without the fluro colours of Pedro Almodovar. The finish and textures here are richer, rich in wastefulness and excessiveness and we haven’t even got to the beach flashbacks, vanishing giraffe or the disappointing broken hearts yet. There is a lot to experience here and I would definitely partake in it all over again. Bello!’

***

A big thank you to the very talented Scott Ramsay Kyle who you can also follow on Twitter. We’re intrigued and are making our way to see this film pronto!

And here’s the English version of the trailer if your Italian, German and French are as non-existent as ours.

Friday Inspired – Modern Architecture in Movies

 

Here’s introducing a new series of guest posts called Friday Inspired, where some of our favorite creatives contribute ideas and images that have inspired them this past week.

Independent curator Veeranganakumari Solanki’s find this week is A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies

“It’s like the movies!”
Incidents that seem unreal, dreams that come true, perfect settings for perfect situations – these are things that don’t occur on a daily basis (at least for most people), and when they do, we often compare them to being picture perfect or the utopic realisation from movies that we’ve seen or heard of. I recently came across this piece on “A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies”, which in fact reverses the above mentioned outlook and “Ways of Seeing” (John Berger would be glad!)

This post on Architizer takes one on a guided tour of architecture from Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris all the way to Futurism in The Fifth Element! In a world of moving imagery and rapidly fading histories being swallowed with the progress of the future, this one’s a great find for architecture and movie buffs to pause time and recreate utopias! Travel through these movies to learn the history of architecture…

 Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris (2011)

 

Futurism in The Fifth Element (1997)

 

Fascist Architecture in Equilibrium (2002)

 

Modernism in Playtime (1967)

 

Brutalism in Dredd (2012)

 

Digital/Parametric in Tron Legacy (2010)

 

Veeranganakumari Solanki is an independent art writer and curator based in Mumbai, India
Her curatorial work includes Barbed Floss that opened at The Guild on 31 July.

 

Notes on Blindness

 

It is not often that you will meet a man like John Hull.
A former professor at the University of Birmingham who lost his sight in his mid 40’s, Hull kept a remarkable audio diary over the next three years that reveals the impact this loss had on his life and those around him.

His candour is refreshing on the tapes, and he delivers his musings without a trace of sadness and completely factually. As if he was a bystander to his own life.
This made me realise, that along with my having lots to be grateful for including 20/20 vision, the wisdom and skills you develop when you have no choice but to do so, could give inspiration to the many others who do have a choice.

Directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney have made a couple of poignant dramatisations to go with Hull’s audio diary entries that will form part of a documentary called Into Darkness. And though these dramatisations fit exactly, you realise halfway through that when it comes to Hull’s passages, the visuals will always take second place.

Notes on Blindness: Rainfall

Notes on Blindness – Snow

And here are two other passages that hit home for me

John’s Diary: 17th April 1984 – The Blind Person’s Consciousness of Time

 

John’s Diary: 22nd Sept 1983 – On Smiles

 

Lon(e)don

 

We experienced the sheer force of 19 year old spoken word poet Megan Beech at a Booked Literary Event a few weeks ago. Standing in front of a room full of strangers, she magicked us into spellbound silence with her verse.
And you knew instantly that is a poet, a young girl, who will go far.

Megan’s been kind enough to share her poems with us. And here’s one that puts into words what makes life so much more alive in my city London,  against the backdrop of a time lapse video of the Millennium Bridge by Tim Lewis.

 

Lon(e)don

“Evening Standard” on standard London evenings,
this city is heaving.
Chests beating, palpitate with the weight of their innermost demons.
But every face remains unfeeling.
And population statistics appear to deceiving,
because in a city of eight million, I’m alone as a civilian
and my days well I am filling them with theatre seats for one and Waterloo sunsets vermilion.
And “I am in paradise”, lost in a smog of anonymity
and that’s part of the reason why I love this city so religiously.
My liturgies are these littered streets,
this constant hum the song on my hymnal sheet.
But today I am struggling to find belief.
All is pinstripes and traffic lights and Boris bikes and concrete.
I let it conquer me, ’cause anyone can see
this place doesn’t belong to me.

I still have to wait for the man to turn green before I cross the street
and the constant need to rush to get crushed in tube doors is lost on me.
All I hope for is kindness not diamond encrusted dreams,
because we tie ourselves in ties and then claim to be free.
But my soul too is shackled,
to the leaves and bark of Richmond Park’s tallest tree,
and the shadow of St Paul’s as the sun falls in evening breeze,
those like me prepared to shiver to watch Shakespeare outdoors for free,
the blue plaques that track the literary history of every street.

The Big Issue seller on Fleet Street that I pass every day,
who offers a pleasant smile despite me never having change
to the change and the range and the depth of human kind
who populate this city and flourish side by side.
The sense of feeling you’re alive, that vitality survives behind the garish glare of neon lights.
Because the vibrant and violent must give way to silence and the dazzling calm of night.
My London: brutal, beautiful and wild must have some others who see the world through my eyes.
But until those I find and I settle in this city as my home,
it’s a comfort to know that when alone in London you are never alone.”

Adrian Paci

 

A few days in Paris is enough inspiration to last many months. And we made one such trip last week to discover and experience gems like Adrian Paci at Jeu de Paume. Born in Albania, Paci escaped political unrest to live in Milan when he was in his mid twenties. This move had a profound impact on his art, and he started working more with video than the sculpture and painting he had been doing so far.

Titled Vies en Transit or Lives in Transit, this exhibition features 12 video works and a few canvas and photographic pieces by Paci, that give remarkable insight into the myriad forms and reactions to displacement. Tackling the state of being, and the in-betweeness we encounter when grappling with feelings of loss, Paci’s work floats easily between the intelligent, the poetic and the ironic.

One of the interesting works on view – Centro di Permanenza Temporanea (Centre of Temporary Residence), 2007

And a short interview with Paci

One of the best videos of this show is The Column, 2013 that follows a slab of marble on its journey from a quarry in China to its transformation into a smooth, well-shaped pillar by a team of craftsmen working on a humongous cargo ship at sea.

the column

The craftsmen go about their work methodically and very matter of fact. That they are on a moving ship makes little difference to them, and work progresses at lightening speed with little distractions.

The finished column is currently on display outside the gallery, and gives no hint of the long journey and the hours of work it took to get to that very spot. Very much like an artwork.

Other interesting works include The Encounter, 2011 where Paci stands in the square of San Bartolomeo de Scicli church in Noto (Sicily) and shakes hands one by one with a long queue of visitors.

the encounter

Creating an uncanny theatrical stage, it’s interesting to see how every person has a different encounter with Paci, though they all seem to be doing the same thing – standing in a queue to shake his hand and then follow the person in front of them out of the camera frame. Still, each individual does it differently – some walk slower than others, a few exchange friendly words with Paci, one gentleman even brings out a camera to take a photograph of him.

Definitely an interesting mix of works, and one exhibition I was really hoping to find clips of the works online. But no such luck, which makes it all the more reason to add this one to your must see list.

Adrian Paci – Vies en Transit
Till 12 May 2013
Jeu de Paume

Nowness

 

The name says it all.

Here are three of my favorite videos from Nowness.com

A haunting clip from Last Tango in Blackpool by Christian Holten Bonke and Andreas Koefoed

Sooyeon Lee by Matthew Donaldson

Reinventing the Wheel by United Visual Artists and Stuttgart-based VANDEYK Contemporary Cycles

And though we’ve featured this before, still one of my favorites
Christine Sun Kim by Todd Selby