Nov 28, 2018

Phantom Islands in Belgrade!

I am extremely delighted and excited to announce that the audience of this year's Alternative Film/Video Festival will have an opportunity to see Phantom Islands - the latest opus by one of our time's most prominent 'cinexperimenters', Rouzbeh Rashidi - and to meet the mastermind behind EFS in person. The artist who also happens to be a dear friend of mine will be participating in a panel discussion concerning collectivism during which he will present the (exquisite!) book Luminous Void: Experimental Film Society Documents published by EFS in 2017.

The iPhone wiz from Wales Scott Barley whose fascinating feature debut Sleep Has Her House had its Belgrade premiere at Magnificent 7 this june will be taking part in the jury.

So, if you are an alternative cinema aficionado, you might want to reschedule your plans for December 12-16, and visit Serbia's capital.

Nov 26, 2018

'Concrete of Doom' Triptych

All our lives we are building our own tombstones.

N: The Graveyard of Beauty

Ж: Black Music

P: … Is Already Dead

(click to enlarge)

Nov 25, 2018

Mythomachia EX

My latest collage series titled Mythomachia EX is available for purchase at Follow this link or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the widget to find out more about it. If you enjoy my works, follow me @ Facebook. Mythomachia EX is a 'spiritual sequel' to Instructional Manual for the Superstitious which is preceeded by Glum Glamour and The Grain of Ultimate Silence.

Nov 20, 2018

The Unforeseen IFF (November 16-17, 2018)

On the 16th and 17th of November, fans of experimental cinema had the opportunity to see a great selection of short films under The Unforeseen moniker, at the comfy venue of the Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade. The Cine-scope program which included 27 titles competing for Grand Prix, Special Mention and Audience awards was divided into four sections: Delirium Archives, Raw Animation, 5(0) Shades of Experimental and Synaesthesia. Chosen as one of the jury members, beside professor of film editing Dragan Dimčić and film critic Ivan Velisavljević, I was introduced to all of the contestants' works beforehand, though watching them on the big screen (i.e. large white wall surface) is what made the experience amazing. This article aims at shedding some light on each of the presented films.

Nutrition Fugue (Péter Lichter, 2018)

A cinematic equivalent of a jazz improvisation (the groovy soundtrack is to 'blame' for the comparison), Light Plays (Jeux de lumière) by Anne-Marie Bouchard is a beautiful collage of intoxicating colors, 'stains' and textures made of excerpts from the vintage educational documentaries transformed into a playful 'adventure' via scratching, drawing and animating on a 16mm tape. Giuseppe Boccassini's Debris appears like an anthology of subconscious associations formed within a (twisted?) mind of a dying person familiar with the structural films, video games and Experimental Film Society offerings. The most delirious of Delirium Archives and one of the Grand Prix 'ex-aequo' winners, the visceral, ferociously striking Never Never Land assaults the viewers' senses with a frenetic mélange of disturbing eroticism and cosmetic surgery interventions. Its creator, Amsterdam-based visual artist Michael Fleming, makes a razor-sharp comment on modern (or rather, eternal?) obsession with physical 'perfection' (as if it were achievable) and simultaneously demonstrates his enviable editing skills. Hungarian avant-gardist Péter Lichter serves a rhythmically delicious meal in his Nutrition Fugue, ironizing eating habits through the communist food adverts altered by exposing the tape to both good and bad bacteria. Having a whale of a time on his Volleyball Holiday, Ricardo Vieira Lisboa employs a scene from Hitchcock's Rebecca and a running gag with a burning celluloid film, emphasizing its fragility, especially when it's within Gremlins' reach - think Hollis Frampton's (nostalgia) 'adapted' for the new age. In ¡PíFIES!, Ignacio Tamarit turns lousy home movies into a stroboscopic smorgasbord of faded memories colliding to the music score evocative of the 70s.

Black Dog (Joshua Dean Tuthill, 2017)

Joshua Dean Tuthill's bizarre, surrealistic stop-motion 'drama' Black Dog that won the Audience Award blurs the line between the Space Race and a seriously dysfunctional family of rednecks, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't know'... or so it seems. Head-scratching moments are bound to happen. Matter Out of Place by Oona Taper combines painterly rotoscoping with frame-by-frame animation into a quiet (feminist?) exploration of fullness vs. emptiness, as the official synopsis and twitchy visuals suggest. Sara Jurinčić's commendable debut September 3, 2015 (3. rujna 2015) is marked by a deliberately messy amalgam of almost Pythonesque cut-outs and autobiographical documentary in which an 'off-screen portrait' of father and daughter emerges from the 'banalities' we read about in daily newspaper. Mathieu Girard utilizes various techniques to animate part Lynchian and part Švankmajer-esque extravaganza Bousche(s), touching upon several topics and endowing the titular organ with multiple meanings. Another firsttimer, Aleksandar Lazar, imbues his contemplative journey, Monstrosity of the Body (Monstruoznost tela), with an introspective dimension, achieving the atmosphere of transcendental calm via ethereal music, hypnotic narration (or more precisely, recitation) and monochromatic imagery that has the protagonist's body abstracted into (micro)cosmic dust. The ideal companion piece to Lazar's innermost visions can be found in Eternity (Věčnost) - a phantasmagorical mystery by the Czech-Korean animator Yeaeun Jang who illustrates the very fabric of primeval dreams with white pencil on a black background. Arash Akhgari addresses the alienation of modern man in a quivering ink-on-white miniature Out of Touch, whereas Carol-Ann Belzil-Normand produces a series of psychedelic WTF-eries around the brief, yet extremely weird clash of furniture and female body in Ultra. Blending Dadaist collages and childlike drawings, Sasha Svirsky 'speaks' of a universal desire to escape the monotony of mundanity in an invigorating absurdist comedy About a Woman Who Wanted to Fly Away (Про бабу, которая хотела улететь), whereby The Life of Insects novel by his compatriot Victor Pelevin springs to mind while visiting the dark world of Daniel Šuljić's minimalist B&W satire From Under Which Rock Did They Crawl Out (Ispod kojeg li su samo kamena ispuzali).

El Diezmo (Jean-Jacques Martinod, 2017)

Completely silent and packed with a handsome cinematography in a boxy format, Alexander Bickford's Myelin portrays a young woman diagnosed with an unspecified (terminal?) illness, and plays out like a heavy, melancholy-fueled dream that could be inspired by the opuses of Maya Deren and Olivier Smolders. From Ecuador arrives an abstract, ghostly, slightly repetitive DV + VHS + Hi-8 phantasy El Diezmo (Jean-Jacques Martinod) set in a virtual or even unfathomable (prenatal / posthumous) realm, with 'a spirit voice' as our only guide. The 'Droste', aka 'mise en abyme' effect is applied to the grainy selfie-culture critique shaped as a meta-film of sorts in Please Step Out of the Frame by Karissa Hahn who takes a cue or two from the Japanese experimenter Takashi Ito. Josh Weissbach's 601 Revir Drive is one of the most 'abrasive' films in the selection, a baffling procession of incongruous pictures thick with raw poetry. Featuring barely readable hand-written subtitles and revolving around a peculiar 'conversation' between a pro-entomologist and Papilio canadensis, Tiger's Dialogue (Dialogue du Tigre) by Matthew Wolkow provides us with a poetical documentary prone to some visual 'gimmickry', such as split-screen and 'butterfly perspective'.

Wishing Well (Sylvia Schedelbauer, 2018)

The second Grand Prix winner Sylvia Schedelbauer takes us on a journey into the farthest recesses of subconsciousness, weaving a flickering eco-parable around a boy's adventure in an enchanted forest. Her Wishing Well wishes you to wake your inner child and drink from the stream of free flowing thoughts, as the parallel dimensions assimilate into a redolent cacophony of colors. Also resonating with ecological sentiment is Atoosa Pour Hosseini's Antler (awarded with Special Mention) - a formally seductive cinematization of the cryptic Voynich manuscript. As challenging to decipher as the said codex, this oneiric, aesthetically pleasing puzzle erases the boundaries between fiction and documentary, and alchemically transfigures a botanical garden into a laboratory of evocative images and sounds. More scenes of Mother Nature - this time, shrouded in its gloomy veil - operate as the verses of a moody ode to the mountains which is also the title of Hrvoslava Brkušić's high-contrast 'photo-novel' Planine. Occasionally reminiscent of Kurt Kren's 3/60: Bäume im Herbst, this 'environmental essay' feels like a lost artifact from the past and, paradoxically, that is exactly what makes it refreshing. Kent Tate's Catalyst (which was reviewed at NGboo Art a few months ago) ads up to the confusion with each repeated viewing - whether it's a 'diary without dates' or a meditation on the dichotomy of the natural and artificial surroundings, it leaves you with a distorted, hard to describe impression. The oppressive, epileptic cine-phantasm Hypnagogia by Pierre-Luc Vaillancourt operates as a psychedelic throwback to the 80s; a volcanic blast of flashing lights, pulsating synthwaves and mind-altering hallucinations. And finally, Andreas Gogol's Xarussell spins you on a carousel of amorphous reveries, as elusive as a hummingbird drawn to a cherry-sized disco ball...

Nov 15, 2018

Ant Head (David Lynch, 2018)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
Part myrmecophobic nightmare, part post-structural experiment (along the lines of Industrial Soundscape) and all an anti-music video for a couple of songs created in collaboration of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, Ant Head cements its creator's place amongst the boldest of filmmakers working today. This 13-minute short depicts a deformed head (think the Eraserhead baby's younger, more human brother) that is, reportedly, made of cheese and raw chicken meat, swarming with ants and recalling this writer's close encounter with a large troop of the said six-legged insects during their invasion on a chocolate spread pack.
Set against a high-contrast B&W backdrop of utility poles and transmission lines which stand frozen in time (confirming Lynch's obsession with electricity), the creepy fromage noggin turns into a negative-self once Frank 2000 gets abducted by Woodcutters From Fiery Ships (this is no code, but a direct reference to the tracks). The ear-piercing cacophony of avant-garde jazz noise which accompanies the bizarre visuals amplifies the atmosphere of gloom and decay, plunging you into a world parallel to that of the Black Lodge from the Twin Peaks series. A must-see-and-hear for the Lynch completists.

Nov 13, 2018

Nepredviđeni - dani eksperimentalnog filma u Beogradu

Ove godine se održava treći međunarodni festival eskperimentalnog filma Nepredviđeni, a meni je pripala čast da budem jedan od članova žirija, pored Dragana Dimčića, profesora filmske montaže na Fakultetu dramskih umetnosti i Ivana Velisavljevića, filmskog kritičara i koautora knjige Kritički vodič kroz srpski film. Takmičarska selekcija obuhvata dvadeset sedam kratkometražnih ostvarenja iz različitih krajeva sveta, a organizatori najavljuju i posebne projekcije. Mesto i vreme dešavanja su Beograd, Centar za kulturnu dekontaminaciju, 16. i 17. novembar, a dodatne informacije možete dobiti na zvaničnoj ili Facebook stranici festivala.

Nov 11, 2018

Chuma v aule Karatas / The Plague at the Karatas Village (Adilkhan Yerzhanov, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Set in a ramshackle fictitious village of idiotic dwellers, bizarre customs, bleeding walls, dancing shadows and seemingly eternal night (followed by a hopeless dawn), Adilkhan Yerzhanov's absurd, surrealistic drama peppered with wry, black humor serves as a hyperbolic allegory of a corrupted, self-destructive society (which also praises stupidity), and feels as if it were written by Kafka in delirium, adapted by Beckett high on antidepressants, and directed by Majewski's angsty twin who eschews camera movement in favor of oppressive mood, and has a knack for transforming his darkest dreams into a quirky, noirish, mythical, dimly lit and delightfully off-the-wall cinematic (un)reality.

Nov 9, 2018

K'na, the Dreamweaver (Ida Anita Del Mundo, 2014)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

An exotic treat for everyone unfamiliar with the culture of the indigenous T'boli tribe of Philippines, K'na, the Dreamweaver weaves an archetypal, bittersweet story of love, loss, seemingly petty feuds and the importance of dreams into a fairy-tale-ish, placidly paced drama packed with an elegant, evoking string score by Diwa de Leon, nuanced performances that occasionally mimic non-professional naïveté, as well as with a handsome cinematography by Lee Meily whose camera lovingly captures the lush greenery of the setting, the intoxicating beauty of elaborately designed abacá costumes, and the arcane symbolism of local customs and traditions.

Nov 3, 2018

Les garçons sauvages / The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico, 2017)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼
The expression 'boys will be boys' gets a whole new meaning in Bertrand Mandico's provoking feature debut which has five young and androgynous actresses portraying titular (anti)heroes. Brilliantly cast, Pauline Lorillard, Vimala Pons, Diane Rouxel, Anaël Snoek and Mathilde Warnier appear to have a whale of a time in the uninhibited roles of upper-class male adolescents whose heinous crime triggers a life-transforming adventure.

A private, ritual-esque performance of Macbeth turns into an orgy and ends in accidental murder of a beloved literature teacher (Nathalie Richard), with the culprits convicted at a 'simulacrum of a trial where they all lie wonderfully'. Initially separated, they are brought together when their rich families invite a Dutchman named 'The Captain' (Sam Louwyck) to execute the punishment. Claiming that he can 'transform any violent boy into a civilized and docile being', this mysterious man takes the 'erudite at will, but barbarian' brats to serve him on his dilapidated ship, as the story gradually becomes more bizarre and surreal, especially when they reach their port of call.

On a magical, paradise-like island where the crew lands, we encounter Dr Séverin(e) (Mandico's muse Elina Löwensohn, at the top of her game) whose secret is in correspondence with the film's gender-bending, politically incorrect, no-holds-barred properties. Without revealing any of the sticky, delightfully decadent and disturbingly erotic details, let's just say that The Wild Boys plays out like a twisted adaptation of The Lord of the Flies that has been influenced by Burroughs's writings, Classic Hollywood, La Nouvelle Vague, as well as by the transgressive works of Walerian Borowczyk and David Cronenberg. This bold, highly referential, somewhat paradoxical phantasmagoria fueled by irony and tongue-in-cheek wit also brings the names of Raúl Ruiz and Guy Maddin to mind, yet the peculiar world in which it's set strikes us as pretty idiosyncratic, not to mention unforgettable.

What makes it so immersive are its dirty, sweaty, gooey atmosphere and highly stylized visuals which comes as no surprise considering Mandico's short offerings such as Boro in the Box and Our Lady of Hormones. Boasting the unmistakable art direction, refreshingly 'quaint' in-camera and practical effects, as well as the exquisite black and white cinematography with occasional splashes of sultry, saturated colors à la Pink Narcissus, the film provides us with some sweet aural nectar and spicy brain snacks as well.