SWEDENBORG FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | Memory of Berlin & Short Film Competition
EVENT: SWEDENBORG FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | Memory of Berlin & Short Film Competition
DATE: 7th December 2019
VENUE: Swedenborg Hall, Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH
CURATOR/S: Nora Foster | Gareth Evans
JUDGE/S: Chloe Aridjis
DIRECTOR/S: John Burgan
WINNERS OF THE SWEDENBORG FILM FESTIVAL 2019:
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Swedenborg Film Festival 2019 is Hope Tucker with her film Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf, as chosen by our guest judge, the novelist Chloe Aridjis.
Hope Tucker’s winning film Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf, a documentary film about a nuclear power plant in Austria, is a monument to the power of public protest and the potential of a democratic vote. Tucker transforms what we know as a daily form of narrative through THE OBITUARY PROJECT, a compendium of moving image that gives new life to the antiquated documentary practice of salvage ethnography. Works from the project have screened in festivals including 25fps, Zagreb; Ann Arbor Film Festival; European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück; Images Festival, Toronto; International Film Festival, Rotterdam; Kasseler Documentary Festival; New York Film Festival and Punto de Vista, Pamplona.
Special mention went to two filmmakers. One recipient was Maya Ramsay with her film Leave or Remain, a short film made on a shipwrecked migrant boat. Ramsay works with historically and politically important sites, employing a variety of processes to capture visual histories that would otherwise be lost or unseen.
The other recipient of a special mention was Stephanie Barber, with her film Oh My Homeland. Oh My Homeland meditates on the political implications of the Verdi aria ‘O patria mia’ (a mournful and complicated love letter to Aida’s homeland) in a time in which love of country is hard to muster. Barber’s films and videos have screened nationally and internationally in solo and group shows at MOMA, NY; The Tate Modern and The Paris Cinémathèque among other galleries, museums and festivals.
The final event of the Swedenborg Film Festival 2019 presents an evening of readings and visionary film. This year’s Festival judge, the author Chloe Aridjis, will read from her Berlin-located novel Book of Clouds, and we will screen John Burgan’s film Memory of Berlin. We will then screen the ten short films shortlisted for the Swedenborg Film Festival 2019. At the close of the Festival, Chloe will select and announce her winner.
The co-curators of the SFF, Gareth Evans (Whitechapel Gallery) and Nora Foster (Frieze) have chosen a shortlist of ten from over 150 submissions. This year’s shortlisted artists are: Yuan Kong, Nicolas Jimy Awashish, Nick Jordan, Georg Koszulinski, Maya Ramsay, Alexandra Kaucher, Sista Pratesi, Hope Tucker, Charlotte Pryce and Stephanie Barber. The shortlisted films represent the engaged and exciting practices of experimental and artistic film today, under the theme of ‘Use and Purpose’, relating to the Swedenborgian idea that everything has a reason to be, a purpose to fulfil.
On the final day of the festival, Saturday 7 December, Chloe will read from her novel Book of Clouds, and we will screen John Burgan’s film Memory of Berlin. We will then screen the shortlisted films. At the close of the festival, Chloe will select and announce the winner.
CHLOE ARIDJIS is a London-based novelist and writer. Her most recent novel, Sea Monsters, was published in 2019 by Chatto & Windus, and was described by The Guardian as ‘precise, strange, evocative and wise’. Her 2009 novel Book of Clouds was published in eight countries and was awarded the French Prix du Premier Roman Étranger. Her 2014 novel Asunder was described by The Independent as ‘rapturous and enraptured reading’.
Memory of Berlin (1998), 76 mins
directed by Carlos John Burgan
‘I guess it’s about time for the First-Person film to become a genre by itself, and for historians to wonder why, as it had been at the roots of literature, it took so much time for the cinema to catch up. I don’t take any risk in predicting Memory of Berlin will be considered as a milestone on the road of the film-essay’. – Chris Marker
‘Using the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 as the jumping off point, Burgan employs the history of Berlin as a metaphor for his own state of mind. The divided city is Burgan’s split identity. Burgan’s unknown biological heritage is an invisible ghost in his life. In order to confront this “doppelgänger” that he has never known, yet which always has existed, he slowly start searching for his biological mother. Though the film evolves around this search, the film is mainly an emotional voyage through the life of a man trying to find his true identity. With a mix of historical archive footage, childhood footage and Burgan’s own recordings from his time in Berlin, he reflects on the story of his life in connection with the history of the city. Burgan barely appears on screen in person, but is overwhelmingly present through the poetic voice over, which throughout the film put words behind the many pictures and feelings the film creates’. (IMDB)
This event is the final part of the 2019 Swedenborg Film Festival, which takes place over three nights with readings and screenings led by author Chloe Aridjis
Wednesday 27 November 2019 | 6.00 doors/6.30 film – 9.00 pm | Silent Light directed by Carlos Reygadas
Wednesday 4 December 2019 | 6.00 doors/6.30 film – 9.00 pm | Museum Hours directed by Jem Cohen
Saturday 7 December 2019 | 5.30 doors/6.00 film – 9.30 pm | Memory of Berlin directed by John Burgan & the Film Festival Shortlist Screenings
THE SWEDENBORG FILM FESTIVAL invites entries from the latest emerging and established talent of experimental and artistic film. For the 2019 submission period, filmmakers were invited to submit new films of 20 minutes or less that explored the concept of ‘Use and Purpose’. Last year’s SFF was guest judged by the late multimedia artist Susan Hiller, and artists and writers including Ali Smith, Andrew Kötting, Jeremy Millar, Bridget Smith and Lech Majewski have judged and shown work at SFF.
SHORTLISTED FILMMAKERS 2019
Human beings are becoming seemingly more and more self-centred. We make plans with the maximal egoistic and anthropocentric purposes. Are we really the centre of the universe? You know what? Actually the world is silently watching you.
Yuan Kong: Born and grew up in Sichuan, China, where people only eat spicy food. He sees life as an experiment. Working and living in Berlin now.
Made entirely of photographs, Kanockatonanok is an impressionist night journey through the Atikamekw village of Opitciwan.
Nicolas Jimy Awashish was born in Opitciwan on July 7, 1996. As of 2018, he collaborated on four shorts and directed two. He has a passion for photography, music and crafts and loves to take picture of his community.
A figure conjures a remedy from spider webs and beeswax, while studying the pages of ‘Micrographia’ (Robert Hook, 1665); the first book to illustrate insects and plants as observed through the lens of a microscope. Commissioned by Folklore Tapes for collaborative project ‘The Art of Magic: re-scoring and restoring objectless index cards from the Museum of Witchcraft’. Objectless index card: ‘Jar containing spider webs. These are prescribed by numerous charmers as being a cure for asthma. To use take a pinch of bee’s wax and spider web. Work in the hand into a pellet and swallow’.
Nick Jordan is an artist who works with short film, drawing, painting, objects, publications and collaboration. His short films deploy a documentary approach, photographed in direct response to particular locations. Presented as oblique, layered narratives, the films often combine original footage with archival material, to explore social, cultural and natural ecologies.The artist’s work has been shown widely at international exhibitions and film festivals.
A personal essay film reflecting on the intersections between the Anthropocene, the politics of poetry, parenthood, and the history of Alan Moore’s 1980’s run on the Swamp Thing comic book.
Georg Koszulinski has been making films and videos since 1999. His recent work engages issues of the anthropocene and merges his interests in science, poetry, and radical forms of non-fiction filmmaking. His award-winning works have been presented at hundreds of film festivals around the world. Docurama distributes his feature documentaries, White Ravens: A Legacy of Resistance, and America is Waiting. Fandor distributes his Florida Trilogy (2007-14) and his experimental film essay series, Frontier Journals #1-8 (2013-15). His work has also appeared on the Documentary Channel, Docurama, GuideDoc, Streampix/Xfinity, and the Journal of Short Film. Georg is a professor of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he teaches classes on various forms of non-fiction filmmaking.
Leave or Remain is a short film made on a shipwrecked migrant boat.
Award-winning artist Maya Ramsay works with historically and politically important sites, employing a variety of processes to capture visual histories that would otherwise be lost or unseen. These include a process that enables her to lift surfaces from these sites, developed in 1997.
A stream-punk collage film examining the state of Iran and U.S. involvement in Iranian history.
Alexandra Kaucher is the daughter of an American and an Iranian who met in Paris Alexandra, has never been one content with the ground beneath her feet. She studied European and Mediterranean studies at NYU. This segued into a career of Production Design and Costume Design for film. She has designed projects in India, Morocco, South Africa, Europe, and all across the US. Her recent Production Design work includes To Dust (2018) starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, which won the audience award at Tribeca. She now directs and produces with her partner and collaborator on various short-form pieces, music videos, and art projects under the moniker Hiss.
The film cycles through a space of primeval ritualised nature and signifies the parts of ourselves that are in opposition to the hyper designed and controlled environment of our society today. Do these two states of being allow for each other to coexist, or does one dominate at the expense of the other?
Sista Pratesi, whose work has been shown at the Jerwood Gallery, Gimpel Fils, The British School in Rome and more, was born in Aberdeen and now lives and works in London.
Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf is a monument to the power of public protest and the potential of a democratic vote.
Hope Tucker transforms what we know as a daily form of narrative through THE OBITUARY PROJECT, a compendium of moving image that gives new life to the antiquated documentary practice of salvage ethnography. She has animated cyanotypes of downwinders and instructions for making fishing nets by hand; photographed shuttered bread factories, fallen witness trees, and decaying civil rights era landmarks; recorded mobile phone footage of the last public phone booths of Finland; and written the text of a video out of paper clips, a Norwegian symbol of solidarity and nonviolent resistance. Works from the project have screened in festivals including 25fps, Zagreb; Ann Arbor Film Festival; European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück; Images Festival, Toronto; International Film Festival, Rotterdam; Kasseler Documentary Festival; New York Film Festival; Punto de Vista, Pamplona.
The film depicts an encounter with a mysterious, luminous, electrical substance. Inspired equally by medieval accounts of visionary experiences and by 19th century photography of the invisible, Pwdre Ser joins Kirlian photography with hand-processed images. Pwdre Ser is the Welsh name for a mythical substance that has been observed by many since the 1400s.
Charlotte Pryce has been making experimental films, photographs and optical objects since 1986. Born in London, Charlotte Pryce graduated with a BFA from the Slade School of Art, University College London and completed an MFA in Fine Art/ Film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her films have screened in numerous festivals including Rotterdam, Oberhausen, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Ann Arbor and London. In 2013 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honored her with the Douglas Edwards Award for Best Experimental Cinema Achievement, and in 2014 she was the recipient of Film at Wits End Award, and in 2015 she received the Gil Omenn Art and Science Award from the Ann Arbor film Festival. In January 2019 she presented a career retrospective at the Rotterdam Film Festival and her work was performed at the Bozar in Brussels and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
In 1985 the great soprano Leontyne Price sung the title role in Verdi’s Aida as her farewell opera. After the ‘O patria mia’ aria, the audience breaks into applause. Oh My Homeland is the third in a series of minimal single shot 16mm films I’m currently building. It’s a film about representation, art, and material exchange. It’s a film about endings. It’s a film about identity, love, power, patriotism and the transcendent potential of art through the viewing of a face receiving adoration. A minimal gesture akin to the practice every portrait painter or mother recognizes as ineffably powerful. Oh My Homeland, while being simply a shot of Ms. Price’s face as she receives the applause and before returning to the role, expands with the unaltered meditation on the shot. The transformational power of art for society and the maker alike; the implication of Ms. Price’s race and the context to which she dedicated her life; the staggering political implications of the Verdi aria (a mournful and complicated love letter to Aida’s homeland) in a time in which love of country is hard to muster.
Stephanie Barber is an American writer and artist. She has created a poetic, conceptual and philosophical body of work in a variety of media. Her videos are concerned with the content, musicality and experiential qualities of language and her language is concerned with the emotional impact of moments and ideas. Each ferry viewers through philosophical inquiry with the unexpected oars of empathy, play, story and humor. Barber’s films and videos have screened nationally and internationally in solo and group shows at MOMA, NY; The Tate Modern, London; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Paris Cinematheque; The Walker Art Center, MN; MOCA Los Angeles, The Wexner Center for Art, OH, among other galleries, museums and festivals.