filmfront invites filmmaker Isiah Medina to showcase his recent feature 8888 paired with selected shorts chosen by our guest.
Program notes by Isiah Medina:
DEMOLITION OF A WALL
by Auguste and Louis Lumière
1896, digital projection, 1:30 min
"It is here that we can begin thinking cinema. We witness a true shot-reverse-shot which is not to be confused with the shot-counter-shot. The reverse sets the possibility of counting frames at all when to change directions a single frame is to be repeated, producing a brief freeze frame, a stillness, an irruption of stasis within movement that makes movement possible, a glimpse of eternity in time. In the movement of the reverse we see that montage was never a question of finding tension between different shots, but each shot is already in tension with itself, and thus, withdraws from itself, recoils. In the reverse we leave the domain of nature and its limitations and begin to think the making artificial of nature: via a freeze frame we pass into history. Any frame can now be placed in relation to any other, and this placement is dictated by reason rather than a cause." - Program notes by Isiah Medina
ONE YEAR PERFORMANCE 1980-1981 (TIME CLOCK PIECE)
by Tehching Hsieh
1981, digital projection, 7 min
"Nothing more to add other than if Hsieh was not standing there or if there was no clock, what we would see would be indiscernible from a single photograph viewed for X minutes. Like in an editing suite, when you place a photo on the timeline and are free to add any value for its duration. This excess is a question of decision rather than a coming-to-pass." - Program notes by Isiah Medina
SEEING IN THE RAIN
by Chris Gallagher
1981, digital projection, 10:46 min
"Even when there is no visible cut at the move of the windshield wiper, it takes place. The consistency of appearances relies on the possibility of absolute change. There is no necessity to be anti-supercut, and within a non-classical logic, being anti-anti-supercut does not return us to the same place." - Program notes by Isiah Medina
Excerpt from EVOLUTION OF A FILIPINO FAMILY
by Lav Diaz
2004, digital projection, 4 min
"Politics is a tracking shot because we cannot fit all of the people, because the people are non-all, cannot be totalized. But there is a moment of intermission in this 11 hour movie and the intermission lasts a single frame. The intermission is the extra act that extracts the People from the people. There is a single frame of colour from an incorporation of footage from the People’s Power Uprising. At first I was unable to recognize what it was that was in the frame, all I knew was that I saw colour, a frame of it, in this 11 hour black and white 16mm/digital movie. Unlike ÉLOGE DE L’AMOUR, colour is not a distance to the present of black and white to the past of digital—instead colour, within digital, against black and white, is the gap the present has in regards to itself. Colour did not exist in the movie but for a brief instant, it did, in the heat of political action. It inexists here, but exists somewhere else fully. This flash of colour allows us to see that yes, there is a new possibility, and we do not need another world to think it. We witness a sign, a discontinuity, a sign of progress, a sign of progression, within the passing of the world, the passing of the frame. It is single frames that make movement possible, but we must pluck it out to see clearly what we are living in. To see this image you must have participated, rewound the footage, reverse it. The distinction between spectator and actor vanishes - you take part in the flicker which is part of no part, changing the order of appearances to appear in the final list that will say 'in order of appearance', you cast yourself, outside, recasting the frames that order our lives. There is not only nature, but there are also signs. The signs amongst us. History barely exists, but eternity does - blink and you will miss it."
by Isiah Medina
2015, 65 min, digital video.
"Pop music’s history is full of extravagant personalities, but few are as crazy and extravagant as Flavor Flav, reality star and member of hip hop group Public Enemy. I don’t have much space to abound on the long list of Flavor’s eccentricities, but my favorite one, and also an object of many political readings, is his use of a giant clock around his neck as opposed to a diamond necklace. In Flavor’s own words: “The reason why I wear this clock is because it represents time being the most important element in our life… Time brought us up in here, and time can also take us out.” More than 30 years after Public Enemy’s first appearance, there is another time-obsessed proponent of hip-hop. This time it is a young Canadian of Filipino descent, who exchanges the mic for an iPhone camera, and hip-hop’s direct confrontation for philosophical tangents. The numbers 88:88 appear the moment at which digital clocks reset, digits that Isiah Medina uses as metaphor for poverty, but also of a new beginning. His film is a flow of constant images; we find difficulty in trying to decipher more conventional, spatio-temporal scenes. In the permanent jump of images, there appears to be no references to which we can anchor ourselves; yet Medina returns time and again to the same stories of his life and the world, of his friends living in suburban Winnipeg, passing their time of unemployment between Badiou and freestyle improvisations. Throughout the film, their voices appear dialoguing, whispering or rapping, always in line with 4 pillars of Medina’s discourse: love, science, art and politics. This collage of digital images and voices reminds us of the more rhythmic Godard, an influence Medina sometimes detracts from, but doesn’t outright deny." - Translated from Cinéfilo Revista
Kiarostami: Part I
With the very recent passing of Abbas Kiarostami, filmfront will hold a screening of the Iranian filmmaker's seminal 1987 film WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOME.
You can find an abbreviated interview with the filmmaker on his craft and some of his thoughts on the cinema here.
Here is a 1 and a half minute short Kiarostami directed as a participant of Venezia 70: Future Reloaded, in which various directors were tasked to create a short film on the future of the cinema for the 70th Venice Film Festival. Kiarostami's clear homage to the Lumière brothers' L'ARROSEUR ARROSÉ (THE SPRINKLER SPRINKLED) is an interesting one. The nature of both shorts suggest a staged comedic fiction, and yet Kiarostami turns the camera to the maker, in this case an implied child director. Both films clearly have something of a documentary element in them. The first, in its context, was a move towards a narrative type of filmmaking that was developing out of one based in documentation. Kiarostami's on the other hand may seem like an inverse—one based in a staged fiction, but one that reveals its maker—and yet the maker is just as staged. Louis Lumiére supposedly said that the "cinema is an invention without a future." In the context of the tasked short, Kiarostami is just as optimistic about the future of cinema. Kiarostami's recontextualized short may be suggesting that looking back at the history of cinema allows us to look forward at all it's possibilities.
WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOME?
by Abbas Kiarostami
1987, digital projection, 90 min
With filmmaker Lewis Vaughn in attendance.
In 2008, Gregory, a 300lb slovenly and sloppy African American ax murderer lives primarily in his life junk food ridden car. After recently being fired from an Indiana steel plant, forcing him back into Chicago, he spends most of his days aimlessly riding around in a tormented and unbalanced state. When the night falls, he continues his murderous spree on the south side of the city. Unbeknownst to him, a lone and mysterious man has arrived to the city tracking his every move. Calculating each step, he must counter Gregory before it’s too late.
by Lewis Vaughn
2016, 21 min, digital video.
Special thanks to Amir George.