I AM IS HERE
Films from Margaret Tait and Friends
11th November at 7pm - Sallis Benney Theatre
by film theorist Miska Morning
poet, a defiantly independent filmmaker, an artist of unique and
extraordinary vision – the great Margaret Tait would have
been 100 on November 11th 2018. We’re celebrating her centenary
with a special programme featuring new restorations of Tait’s
film poems, alongside rare 16mm screenings from artists working
in the tradition of intimate, first person cinema.
Tait once said of her films, that they are born "of sheer wonder
and astonishment at how much can be seen in any place that you choose…
if you really look."
Tait’s work reminds us of what cinema is and can be. Cinema
can be personal. Films can be revisited, just like returning to
a novel or re-reading a poem. Films can be made over several years.
Films can be made in the country. Cinema can take place in venues
such as village halls, a room in a house, in a garden, in galleries,
and in small groups with talk or discussion, and in cinemas of all
shape, size and type...’
Filmmaker/poet Peter Todd
film-poet Margaret Tait produced an exquisite body of work combining
poetry, portraiture, music, ethnography, and animation. She studied
filmmaking in Rome during the height of Italian neorealism before
returning to Scotland in the early 1950s, where she found inspiration
in the contrasting daily rhythms of Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands.
In an early jewel of a film, A PORTRAIT OF GA (1952), Tait cut together
birdsong and snippets of Orkney lore with shots of her mother and
the rugged island landscape to produce a startlingly poignant impression
of family and place. She explored similar themes in later films
like WHERE I AM IS HERE (1964), COLOUR POEMS (1974), and AERIAL
(1974) – each screening tonight - reflecting on the passage
of time while attending to the details of everyday life.’
Tait at Lux
alongside Margaret Tait's films we're excited to present:
Marie Menken, 1940 – 62, USA, 16mm, 12 mins
is one of the unsung pioneers of American experimental cinema, an
abstract painter turned filmmaker who inspired artists such as Stan
Brakhage, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, and Kenneth Anger. Menken created
an extraordinary body of exuberant and stunningly beautiful films
shaped, above all, by her intuitive understanding of handheld cinematography.
Notebook is a film diary of her work going back as far back as the
late 1940s - a gathering of lyrically dancing film images and hand-cut
animation into loose chapters. Life in New York as a series of gently
abstract visual poems, the most mundane activities bought into the
realm of the miraculous. Menken herself said of Notebook: ‘They
are too tiny or too explicit for a remark, but one or two are my
Menken at Harvard
Ute Aurand, 2017, Germany, 16mm, 5 mins
Aurand has been a central figure of Berlin’s experimental
film scene since the 1980s and is one the most significant filmmakers
active in the diary and portrait tradition today.
‘Many of Ute Aurand’s films take as their titles
the names of people close to the filmmaker, and that’s not
incidental. Hers is a cinema of intimacy, populated by friends and
family, some filmed over many years, in which daily experience forms
the basis for a practice rich in lyrical beauty. Unlike many contemporary
artists using the moving image, Aurand works within the artisanal
tradition, shooting and editing her 16mm films alone. She favours
responsive handheld camerawork and a distinctive editing style that
is at once energetic, rhythmic and tender. Though this process may
be solitary, it is never self-involved; rather, Aurand’s films
are marked by a disarming openness. I consider it amongst the most
compelling work in experimental cinema today.’ Erika
is Aurand's latest film portrait, filmed over the years and in different
locations in Germany and Japan. 'Filming portraits allows me
to emphasize private gestures and moments beyond narration and documentation.'
Annabel Nicolson, 1971, UK, 16mm, 11 mins
of the few women working in, and sometimes in opposition to, the
male dominated environment of the early London Film Makers Co-op.
Like Menken, Nicolson came to film from painting, and made her first
cameraless, handpainted film 'Abstract no. 1' in 1969. For Slides,
made the following year - ‘a continuing sequence of tactile
films were made in the printer from my earlier material. 35 mm slides,
light leaked film, sewn film, cut up to 8mm and 16mm fragments were
dragged through the contact printer, directly and intuitively controlled.
The films create their own fluctuating colour and form dimensions
- the appearance of sprocket holes, frame lines etc., is less to
do with the structural concept and more of a creative, plastic response
to whatever is around.’ Annabel Nicolson
Toop on Annabel Nicolson
Nicolson at Lux
Joanna Margaret Paul, 1976, New Zealand, Super 8mm to digital
(1955-2003) was a New Zealand artist who worked prolifically across
the mediums of film, poetry and painting. Working in relative artistic
isolation, her films, often shot and edited in camera, chronicled
motherhood and domestic life, the worn traces of urban settlement
and the persistent presence of the natural world. 'All my films
poems paintings play more or less between inner and outer events.'
Joanna Margaret Paul.
Thankyou to Mark Williams at Circuit Artist Film and Video, New
Zealand. We hope to bring you a full programme of Joanna Margaret
Paul's work in 2019.
Margaret Paul at Circuit
I Am is Here is part of this year's CineCity
film festival - an amazing selection of world cinema, previews and
live events running from the 9th - 25th November 2018
- £5 on the door