AV Festival: some more coverage

07 April 2012

MP here

Following this post, here I bring together the remainder of my AV Festival coverage, written for Front Row Reviews. For a short piece on the spatial implications of a "slow cinema", click here.

Ben Rivers and AV Festival director Rebecca Shatwell

Firstly, five editorials discussed the festival's Slow Cinema Weekend. Part 1 summarises the panel discussion (pictured at top) given on May 9, which saw AV director Rebecca Shatwell chair a debate between filmmakers Ben Rivers and Lav Diaz, curator George Clark, academic Matthew Flanagan and critic Jonathan Romney, on the defining features and possible merits and limits of a "slow cinema" aesthetic; Part 2 focuses on Fred Kelemen's gloomy purgatorial 1990s triptych; Part 3 reviews Lisandro Alonso's first three features, images from which I haven't been able to shirk since; Part 4 discusses three films and mentions a fourth by Filipino director Lav Diaz, whose work gathers a unanimous praise I can't quite grasp; and Part 5 reviews two films by Ben Rivers, one of which - Two Years at Sea - is set for a theatrical release early next month.

The rest, in alphabetical order...

Finisterrae (2010)
Two ghosts, resembling budgetless Halloween partygoers, endure a half-hearted pilgrimage so they can rejoin the material world. Utter hoot with momentary asides of poignancy.
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Independencia (2009)
A dazzling visual recreation of silent melodrama, utilised to dramatise a moment in Filipino history where one colonial power was exchanged for another.
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Las Acacias (2011)
An unlikely, near-wordless bond forms between a truck driver and his two passengers - a colleague's friend and her young son - who he has agreed to transport from Paraguay to Argentina.
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Let Each One Go Where He May (2009)
Thirteen ten-minute takes comprise this highly charged, fitting conclusion to the festival that brought together its recurrent elements: diaspora, walking and a self-probing spatiality.
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Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours (2011)
Making a virtue of minimalist simplicity, this was one of the visually finest films that screened in the programme - which made its editorial self-indulgence all the more curious.
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Silent Light (2007)
An argument against the notion that an "aesthetic of slowness" is inherently of merit. Carlos Reygadas bookends an otherwise mannered tale with shots of genuine beauty.
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Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (2003)
This polished film labours its central argument: that life's phases are analagous to the year's seasons. We kind of wait about for it to complete itself.
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Still Life (2006)
Zhangke Jia's haunting piece blends fiction and fact and juxtaposes melancholy with wit, documenting the imposed end of a town whose destruction facilitates the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.
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Syndromes and a Century (2006)
Already listed in my Top 100, this quietly hilarious piece is a suggestive exploration of its director's remembered and perhaps partly imagined childhood. A rural hospital and an urban equivalent seem to share staff, memories and metaphysical textures. Temporalities co-exist effortlessly.
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