Plymouth Film Showcase 2018

By Lawrence Hyne

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Film has long been concerned with archiving itself and given the fragile nature of it’s own material, it is not surprising that so many film-makers have utilised the editing of existing documents to create new works. The Plymouth Film Showcase is bookended with two quite different versions of this same process with another living archive of 200 films by young filmmakers work from the last three years in between.

The first is Diviner by Frances Scott. Created from 120 films in the SWFTA, this enigmatic meditation on the cyclical nature of history, politics, magic and their repeating narrative use of the water diviner as a central figure.

The process of feeding old archived film onto a machine for playback and editing it opens the film itself and the only contemporary bit of footage, filmed on a Bolex movie camera, has a feeling of something almost religious and ceremonial about it.

I asked Frances about the process,

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

“ The first day I did in SWFTA was the day of Trump’s inauguration and all those things, Brexit etc, were playing out whole I was selecting the stuff. What I was trying to suggest was that history itself is kind of cyclical and repeats and until you experience these somewhat repeating narratives like the section in which a woman is talking about not wanting to make Britain great and that was shot in the nineteen sixties in the Scilly Isles. I was kind of interested in how the archive feels very current.”

You have talked about the transmitted image being like a sentient speaking being, do you think you are giving a voice to that being, or does it evolve as you make the work and then start to speak to you as you make it?

“ Maybe both, I had an idea of certain kinds of footage I wanted to find around protest and I suppose around magic and where those things kind of sit together, and The Diviner who is this central figure, who looks for water underground with a dowsing rod, almost like the role of an artist looking for something in this infinite archive and actually how impossible that is and so it kind of fails. I always felt like I was digging like an archaeological dig and I did not want to pass judgement. I am interested in the script used in both magic and politics”

The film at the other end of the gallery is Bryony Gillard’s, A Cap, Like Water, Transparent, Fluid Yet With Definite Body. Even before you get to the little black box in which the film is projected the ceremonial aspect is prominent in the sounds of drums permeating beyond the frame. Supine figures are pushed and dragged across the floor, as if moved by some inner tide, as the modernist poet H. D’s 1919 essay, “Notes on thoughts and Visions” is used as a springboard for this exploration.

I asked Bryony about the opacity of both jellyfish and the way in which female writers in the past often talked about their sexuality

 

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

“Throughout modernism jellyfish have been gendered as a feminine organism and often written about in a derogatory way by male writers talking about stream of consciousness writing being like jellyfish like in form, but they have been taken on by female writers as being a positive thing of being a jellyfish which is something which is difficult to define, kind of dangerous and kind of sexual, as a metaphor it has been used a lot.”

There is a lot of power in this work, a power that draws you into this sub aquatic world through clever use of sound and imagery. It is part of a larger project and the collaborative nature of it makes you want to go deeper in exploring both the inspiration for it and the larger work as a whole.

 

In the centre of the Peninsula gallery there are several interactive screens showcasing the work of young film-makers aged between 16-24 as part of PLAYBACK an initiative from the arts council, Random acts and Channel 4. Corinne Orton, Tour Manager with Random Acts explains

“The programme to create the films has been running for three years, but Playback was started in March of last year to give the films a wider reach. The films are between 90 seconds and three minutes and even just within the south-west you have animation, experimental, drama…it’s really really diverse.”

The Ship a short animated feature by Natasha Price on the dangers of getting what you wish for in Cornish independence is a wonderfully crafted paean to the country/county (depending where you stand over a growing divide). There are films from Falmouth, Devon, and Somerset really showcasing the next wave of talent emerging from the peninsula and filling you with confidence in the south west being a force to reckon with in the years to come.

The Plymouth film showcase exhibition runs at the Peninsula Gallery in Roland Levinsky building within the Plymouth University campus until 17th February

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography

Plymouth Film Showcase 2018 Photo Credit Greenbeanz photography