Projections de films expérimentaux de Vicky Langan et Maximilian Le Cain

 

Séamas McSwiney reports from the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris where experimental filmmakers Vicky Langan and Maximilian Le Cain ended their residency with a screening of some of their films.

Experimental filmmakers Vicky Langan and Maximilian Le Cain rounded off a brim-full month as artists in residence at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris with a screening of three of their short films followed by a Q&A. Langan mentioned that she was particularly pleased to see the diversity of the Paris turnout in the capacity audience. This audience ranged from insiders who know the codes for this (anti)discipline to adventurous neophytes up for new sensations. The Centre’s director, Nora Hickey M’Sichili, was also delighted to see the perimeter of her audience profile being pushed out in synch with the cutting edge of the filmmaking. 


Langan and Le Cain’s collaboration, according to their bio, is “built on the fitting match between Langan’s magnetic, troublingly intense presence as a performer and Le Cain’s distinctively jarring, disruptive visual rhythms. In 2017, they received an Arts Council of Ireland award to make Inside, their first feature film, soon to be premiered. Le Cain makes experimental films that explore a personal relationship with cinema as a site of haunting. Langan’s practice operates across several overlapping fields, chiefly performance, sound and film. Her vulnerable, emotionally charged work envelops audiences in an aura of dark intimacy.”

Of the thirteen films the Cork-based duo have made since their collaboration began in 2009, they screened three films in the one-hour programme along with a brief sampling of shots made during their Paris sojourn.

Le Cain adds: “What we shot in Paris is going towards two things: a short tribute film to Dutch experimental filmmaker Frans Zwartjes – a strong influence on us – to be screened at a tribute event for him on Oct 26 in the Guesthouse in Cork; and other images to be used as part of a live performance Vicky and I are developing for the Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival, also in October, where we will also have a programme of our films screened as part of an Experimental Film Society programme”.

This hive of activity for such an esoteric filmmaking genre and this new international reach is largely due to the supportive environment of the Experimental Film Society (EFS) in Dublin and in particular its head, Rouzbeh Rashidi, who has engineered multiple Irish participations in this year’s Lausanne event.

Closer to home, in Dublin at Filmbase on Friday, Sept 1st and Saturday, 2nd, the duo will participate in a special event where they and two other filmmakers, Rouzbeh Rashidi and Atoosa Pour Hosseini, will take part in Wilderness Notes featuring premieres of three new films by EFS filmmakers, created in tandem with new compositions by young Irish composers Barry O’Halpin, Seán Ó Dálaigh, and Robert Coleman of the Kirkos Ensemble, which will be performed live. 

Here’s how the Experimental Film Society describes this collaborative event:

“The three films that comprise Wilderness Notes all explore psychic, territorial and technological margins. Isolated characters, all somehow locked into masks or fixed personae, navigate desolate zones between dimensions where a sense of being physically adrift and at risk is mapped onto a corresponding inner state. But they are not only adrift in space, they are equally adrift in time. Making experimental use of several outdated moving image formats, notably Super-8 and VHS,Wilderness Notes summons up ghosts from an abandoned future, taking its cues from the western, the nightmare of nuclear holocaust and the masks of ancient theatre.”


An unmissable opportunity for adventurous audiences in Dublin this weekend.

 

Séamas McSwiney is an Irish writer-producer based in Paris

 

Kirkos Ensemble + Experimental Film Society present

Wilderness Notes

19.30, Fri-Sat 01-02.09.2017 :: Filmbase, 2 Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Kirkos Ensemble + Experimental Film Society present Wilderness Notes

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IFI Irish Focus: Experimental Filmmaker Maximilian Le Cain on ‘Cloud of Skin’

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Cloud of Skin, the first feature by experimental filmmaker Maximilian Le Cain, screens as part of Irish Focus at the IFI. Below Maximilian introduces his work to Film Ireland.

 
Cloud of Skin is my first feature film. It was produced in collaboration with the Dublin-based Experimental Film Society collective, of which I am a member, and has in common with all my work that it is experimental in form.

It’s a narrative film, telling the story of a man, played by Dean Kavanagh, who is haunted by the memory of a blind woman with visionary powers who obsessively revisits the sites of their love affair. But it doesn’t unfold as a traditional narrative, it plays out more like an immersive dream experience in which normal perceptions of time are suspended.

My films are guided by a sense of exploration: the exploration of an atmosphere, an emotion, a series of techniques. They are experiments into what cinema is capable of and what I am capable of achieving with cinema.
 
In making Cloud of Skin a ‘first’ feature, I wanted to go back to silent cinema and explore my relationship with it or with certain aspects of it. Most obviously, the film is almost entirely without dialogue – in fact, the sound is comprised entirely of a soundscape created by the composer Karen Power. But what really interested me, looking at films by people like Jean Epstein or Frank Borzage, is the way some masters of silent cinema were able to take the simplest stories and use them to generate the most extraordinary emotion through imagery and rhythm, to the point that the subject matter transcended itself and almost took on the power of music.
 
Without imitating silent film techniques, I wanted to echo the iconic power of these movies. So I took this very simple, very dark love story and used it to create something that’s really about the experience of sight, touch, perception.

The powerful onscreen presence of the three actors that appear in it and the extremely atmospheric locations we used, as well as Karen’s extremely compelling soundtrack, are the crucial elements in weaving this spell. And I wanted to employ almost all the technologies I’ve been working with since I started making films in the ’90s in specific ways that hopefully resonate through contrasting very modern-looking DSLR imagery with slightly dated, almost home-movie DV or Super-8 footage. Using different visual textures has always been crucially important in my films and these ones speak to recent memory – and, hence, forgetfulness – in quite an evocative way.

Cloud of Skin screens on Wednesday, 25th May 2016 at 18.30 at the IFI as part of Irish Focus, a focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.
 
Maximilian Le Cain will participate in a post-screening conversation with Dean Kavanagh. 
 
Tickets are available here or from the IFI Box Office or on 01 679 3477 

 

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Review: Pushtar

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Maximilian Le Cain reviews Alan Lambert’s Pushtar, which recently won the Spirit of IndieCork Award.

 

At this point in film history, there are few filmmakers whose work can genuinely be described as ‘unique’. So few, in fact, that it is quite remarkable that a comparatively small and new film culture, such as Ireland’s, can boast of one. But it can. The three extraordinary feature films Alan Lambert has completed to date are certainly like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Their immersive, almost musical structures, highly complex layering of time and radically oblique approaches to narrative that often consist of story being mysteriously suspended, are the product of a truly independent cinematic sensibility.

 

Pushtar, his new film, which recently received the Spirit of the Festival Award at IndieCork, has all these qualities. Essentially a work of science fiction set in a future where climate change has led to the collapse of civilization as we know it, it was made on a very small budget indeed. Given this fact, what is immediately striking from the very first shots is its sheer visual gorgeousness and impressive sense of scale as spectacle. However, Lambert’s almost uncanny ability to conjure imagery worthy of well-budgeted sci-fi TV from the simplest of resources might set us off on the wrong track for, as Fergus Daly so aptly put it, “it’s as if Hollywood was suddenly taken over by artists”.

 

The story we assume will start unfolding does not materialise or, at least, not at all as we might expect it to. The wordless first twenty minutes of the film plunge us into the cataclysmic world of an unfamiliar future society and it starts to feel like we are adrift in someone else’s dream, the dream of someone from a culture that is unsettlingly foreign to us, denoted by historical landmarks we are unfamiliar with. And yet the ‘dream’ could also be one we experience having nodded off late at night in front of some old science fiction show on TV, an intensified distillation of the fleeting moments of pure poetry that pop up intentionally and unintentionally in mainstream science fiction. Or perhaps of our childhood memories of these moments retrieved from a time when the world itself could seem as mysterious as science fiction.

 

As the narrative gradually, hazily emerges it transpires that childhood dreaming is in fact a crucial factor in the film and the society it evokes: the decisions of the community’s governing council are predicated on the insights of a group of children with psychic capabilities. The form of Pushtar’s narrative comes as a major surprise. Within this oneiric phantasmagoria, Lambert sets forth what feels like almost a documentary account of certain decisions the council must make. Their debates form the dramatic meat of the piece in a way that strongly recalls a body of work that is the stylistic opposite of Pushtar:  some of late-career Rossellini’s historical television films. This is not only a case of sharing a form in which debate over a society-altering decision is central. What is so compelling about these debates in Rosellini is how alien the ideas at stake can often seem to our culture and this is what connects us with the eras he recreates. By coming to grips with the initially strange importance of these ideas, we enter another way of thinking. Likewise, in Pushtar the discussions around whether or not to allow a breed of giant dog to exist seem slightly mysterious but gripping and oddly real in their otherness.

 

To again call upon late ‘60s/’70s Italian filmmaking, it could be said that Lambert does the opposite of what Fellini set out to do in Satyricon (1969): Fellini described that film as science fiction projected into the past rather than the future. Lambert projects a remote historical document into the future rather than the past. But he does so wrapped in a feverish childhood dream that is at once utterly alien and mysteriously familiar.

 

Maximilian Le Cain is a filmmaker and former editor of ‘Experimental Conversations’, based in Cork.

His new feature film Cloud of Skin will premiere in the Cork Film Festival on 7th November.

 

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‘Ten Years in the Sun’

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Dublin-based experimental filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi is one of the most radical and independent talents in contemporary underground cinema. Here Rouzbeh tells Film Ireland about his latest film, Ten Years in the Sun, which screens at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Plus filmmaker and critic Maximilian Le Cain gives his reflections on the film.

My new experimental feature Ten Years in the Sun will receive its premiere at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It was one year in production and throughout the course of shooting and editing it drastically mutated and deviated in various ways from its initial idea. In this film, I have taken elements from such genres as science fiction, horror and erotic drama and given them a radically minimalist treatment. My aim was to attain what could be described as a ‘ground zero of drama’ through the systematic removal and breaking down of any narrative structures.

On this project I have intentionally worked with a wide range of collaborators and actors, and without their tremendous support this film would have been impossible to make. One of them was filmmaker and critic Maximilian Le Cain. These highlights from his personal reflections on the film might offer some insight into it:

“It has been building up through a number of his recent films – Terrors Of The Mind, Forbidden Symmetries, Investigating The Murder Case Of Ms. XY – and now it has erupted with full force: a sense of vast cosmic chaos, randomness and terror. The result is a sensory onslaught that destroys any sense of narrative development, that allows for a dizzyingly reckless catalogue of dead ends and invasions by footage and techniques that can seem utterly alien to one another… And yet a very human sense of wistfulness also emerges that prevents this experience from becoming cold or detached…

“A two-and-a-half hour running time, spectacle galore, numerous sinister characters and plots portentously introduced but left unresolved… …the incoherence and oddness of this sense of non-completion is not plastered over but cranked up to the highest degree of fragmentation…

“The crust of an external objective reality is no more. There is only tormented interiority and distant annihilating vastness. And the carriers of these symptoms are precisely presented modes of (mainly moving) imagery and its attendant technology. A very 21st century hell…”

 

Ten Years in the Sun screens at the Light House Cinema on Friday, 27th March 2015 at 8PM as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Book tickets here

 

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Experimental Film Society: Maximilian Le Cain

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The third of six bi-monthly Experimental Film Society (EFS) screenings, taking place at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios on Tuesday, 17th February 2015 at 6pm under the Studio 6 Open programme, foregrounds the work of Irish-based EFS member Maximilian Le Cain.

Free admission, all welcome.

 

The first half of the programme is a special presentation of Le Cain’s Super-8 film work, here assembled under the title “Image Turned Down” and projected on celluloid. Intensely materialist and experiential, his approach to working with Super-8 radicalises the relationship between sound, image and the spectator’s body, often suppressing and withholding imagery to place the viewer in an immersive, sonically charged void. The sound for this screening is by Cinema Cyanide, the noise project formed by Le Cain and fellow EFS members Rouzbeh Rashidi and Dean Kavanagh. And the star of these films is sound/performance artist Vicky Langan, who collaborates regularly with Le Cain.

 

This is followed by the public premiere of the video “Now Then: Notebook of a Decade (1997-2008)”. This lyrical and intense collage of the first ten years of Le Cain’s work with moving image uses portraits, video notes and chunks of broken narrative to conjure a turbulent inner universe. Le Cain has described this video as a spectacular ‘ruin’, alive with ghosts.

 

For more information on Maximilian Le Cain, please visit: maximilianlecain.com

 

 

Image Turned Down (2010-2014) Super-8 / Ireland & Greece / 20 minutes

Now Then: Notebook of a Decade (1997-2008) / Ireland / 49 minutes

 

 

 

 

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A Double Bill of New Irish Experimental Feature Films

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World Premiere of Rouzbeh Rashidi & Maximilian Le Cain’s
Weird Weird Movie Kids Do Not Watch The Movie

Alan Lambert’s The End Of The Earth Is My Home
presented for the first time with a live score by European Sensoria Band

Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Wednesday August 7th, 7pm, €7

Weird Weird Movie Kids Do Not Watch The Movie is the latest collaboration between Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain. This hypnotic, visually and sonically immersive exploration of a haunted space unfolds in two parts. In the first, a woman (Eadaoin O’Donoghue) dissolves her identity into the ghostly resonances she finds in the rooms and corridors of a sprawling, atmospheric seaside basement property. In the second, a man (Rashidi), existing in a parallel dimension of the same space, pursues a bizarre and perverse amorous obsession.

 

Set in a futuristic Asia of the mind, The End Of The Earth Is My Home is a trippy, visually audacious modern fantasy that takes inspiration from the Asian Monkey King stories and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as the writer/director’s own travel experiences. Although rooted in a sci-fi thriller premise, TEOTEIMH is more a sensory experience than a narrative. This special presentation of the film with live accompaniment by European Sensoria Band is therefore an ideal way of experiencing Lambert’s pulsing kaleidoscsope of shifting visual and sonic rhythms, one of the few films to explore the visionary potential of science fiction beyond the boundaries of traditional storytelling. Its international cast is headed by Junshi Murakami, Dominique Monot and Mona Gamil.

 

This mind-warping programme is compelling evidence of a strain of visionary experimental filmmaking currently thriving beneath the surface of contemporary Irish cinema.

 

For more information on the directors:

 

Rouzebh Rashidi- rouzbehrashidi.com

 

Maximilian Le Cain- maximilianlecain.com

 

Alan Lambert- metaldragon.net
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