If, like me, you’re over Netflix and missing the experimental aspect of the cinematic experience, head to Strangelove for a series of short films by artists with a particular interest in storytelling. This event concludes part one of the Folkestone festival's 'cinema' section. Every work is compelling for the details it provides, but they also each function as support materials for, and research offshoots from, the practices they belong to. The narrative umbrella extends to low-fi animated, docu-footage, theatrically staged and hand-held diaristic approaches.
Oona Grimes’ flick-book Fellini memory-scape 'murd story board: moving', 2020, is based on her recollections of the Italian director’s 1954 film ‘La Strada’, a sad tale about the plight of a woman sold by her family to a travelling ‘strongman’ entertainer. The idea of this hand-drawn format, filmed on an iphone and simply edited into a stream of non-sequential stills, is to allow room for the inevitable inaccuracies – of tone, scale, chronology and narrative details – to be observed. In considering what these might be, we are reacquainted with all the cinematic viewing process entails and our own preferences for banking one ingredient over another. But, if you haven’t seen the film, there is much to be gleaned from the (actually joyous) marriage of Nino Rota’s sonorous score and Grimes’ Hergé-esque cast of hatted and tattooed protagonists.
The drone-height observation point of Andrew Kötting’s filming of the Chilean desert affords a truly extraordinary model-village perspective on sites that remain very much off the everyday radar. In 'THEIR RANCID WORDS STAGNATE OUR PONDS', 2018, we are not given the full history of the scenarios he presents us with, but are provided with enough visual and textual information to situate us within the notion of a conflicted zone that conveys much about the human presence, now absent, from the story as a living document. The opening topographical view of Sarah Beddington’s ‘The Logic of the Birds’, 2017, is of Palestine. Her beautiful, travelling investigation of the local landscape explores notions of autonomy and leadership in a contested territory through poetic use of the bird as motif, gleaned from a 12th century Sufi poem.
Bela Lugosi and other silent-film references loom large over David Austen’s theatrically arranged, tongue-in-cheek composition 'The story of my death as told to me by another', 2013-19. In dramatic black-and-white and through the brave inclusion of contemplative, ‘empty’ filmic space, Austen describes the idea of his violent demise as imagined via the dream of a friend.
Joel Snowman’s sensitively observed and carefully edited footage of Folkestone in 'Whiskey Lemonade', 2018, makes the ordinary something of note. Through his eyes we can stop and spend a moment within sections of other people’s time, as it passes, which he shapes to communicate just how the frieze of everyday actions and conversational snippets provides the space around, makes visible, every important moment we carry.
View at https://www.strangelovefestival.com/cinema until July 5.