26 August 2014

EFS at Temble Bar Gallery + Studios (1)

Experimental Film Society (EFS) is a not-for-profit entity that promotes, archives and sometimes produces work by a dozen filmmakers operating in several different countries. Although each member has a distinctive vision, they are united by an uncompromising devotion to personal, experimental cinema. They have in common an exploratory approach to filmmaking where films emerge from the interplay of sound, image and atmosphere rather than traditional storytelling techniques. EFS was founded by Dublin-based filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi, who continues to curate and run the organization.

Although international in scope, EFS is notably at the centre of a new energy in Irish experimental filmmaking and crucial in fostering a radical Iranian underground cinema. A series of six bi-monthly screenings at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios will present not only the work of EFS members, but will juxtapose it with films by other contemporary experimental filmmakers, exploring and identifying a strong and vital tendency in alternative cinema today: personal, formalistic, anti-narrative, often uncanny. Work that pushes the boundaries of film and video in conveying unique and unsettling worldviews that can only be expressed through extreme cinematic forms. 

The first programme will showcase the five EFS members who are from or are currently based in Ireland: Rouzbeh Rashidi, Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh, Michael Higgins and Jann Clavadetscher. The films selected will identify the specific qualities of each filmmaker, as well as indicating where they overlap and the fruitful history of collaboration that they share.

Wednesday 24th September 6PM 2014 at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (Studio 6 Open), 5-9 Temple Bar, Dublin 2. 

1-Kish (8mins) By Jann Clavadetscher
2_Light From An Old Town (17mins) By Dean Kavanagh
3_Funnel Web Family (14mins) By Michael Higgins
4_H7HSP160 Regression (40mins) By Maximilian Le Cain & Rouzbeh Rashidi

Total Running Time: 80 Minutes

More info:

14 August 2014

What is the Irish for ‘avant-garde’? An examination of the avant-garde idea in Irish cinema

Sam Fitzpatrick interviews filmmakers Dean Kavanagh, Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain for his thesis “What is the Irish for ‘avant-garde’? An examination of the avant-garde idea in Irish cinema” for the course “MSc in Digital Feature Film Production” run by Filmbase Dublin, in association with Staffordshire University.

Sam Fitzpatrick:     Ireland obviously has historically not possessed much in the way of an experimental film scene. Even the recent EFS programme in the IFI, “Absences and (Im)possibilities”, reinforces that fact; in both its programme notes and its title. But it seems that this may be changing -- yourselves, the others in the Experimental Film Society and various other practitioners have been incredibly prolific, it seems to me, over the last few years. Do you see this activity as representative of an experimental scene or emerging movement as such?

Rouzbeh Rashidi:       Personally I would prefer to stay away from classifications such as ‘movement’ and ‘new wave’. I think that they are very dangerous and have contributed to many of the maladies in today’s cinema. If you are engaged with the history of film and study it carefully and passionately you realise that all of the established ‘movements’ and ‘new waves’ occurred organically with time as the presiding judge.

I was involved in a ‘movement’ called “Remodernist film” for almost two years. It has a striking, interesting and genuine manifesto, which I still admire, but unfortunately the focus and energy of the contributing members was spent on everything but the actual craft of filmmaking. It simply became a cheap act of protection and promotion for the ‘movement’ itself rather than making films. Usually when a considerable amount of films have been completed, screened, reviewed and discussed- with text from film critics and theoreticians in circulation, then finally as time passes, you will know if there was a ‘movement’ or ‘new wave’. But when you remove all of these factors, and above all, remove time from the equation and reverse the actual process, the result is absolutely horrific.

All I know is that with EFS the energy is focused on the PRODUCTION of cinema and that is all we care about. With EFS we are trying to create a culture that we simply don’t have here; therefore we are building it from scratch with our films. Even if our films are part of a ‘movement’ or ‘new wave’ we really are unaware and simply don’t think about it. Each of us developed a unique and personal cinematic language and it is only through this that we constantly express ourselves. Also it is worth mentioning that we care very deeply for and engage with the history of cinema and are completely aware of the fact that the limits of cinema have already been fully reached, right to the very edges. There is nothing new in film history. The only way that you can genuinely contribute is to dig into your personal experiences and make cinema about them. By no means does this mean a translation of events as concept/content but rather a formalistic approach that embraces themes too.

Dean Kavanagh: I always worry about the term ‘movement’ as it is thrown around so much, and in particular, over the last year or two in Ireland regarding, what I would call, a certain ‘mainstream independent cinema’. Even the term ‘independent’ is finished with.

People really want to see an ‘Irish new wave’ but everyone knows it is not something that the filmmakers can decide. That is for the critics to determine in 20 years time, most likely when it is over, if it ever existed at all. But I think it is undeniable that something special is happening within cinema here and it has EFS at the absolute core.

Experimental Film Society has been very active in Ireland and internationally. To this date, with the combined works of the filmmakers, it has produced around 52 feature films, over 400 short films and has also fostered expanded cinema and audio-visual performance events and film screening. EFS members have even released albums of drone/ambient music online, like an addendum to the film work. All of this has happened within the period of 10 years and between 9 or 10 people internationally, 4 of whom living in Ireland. There is certainly a ‘scene’ emerging here thanks to EFS.

Maximilian Le Cain:  There’s a strong, organic affinity and understanding between the four EFS members based in Ireland, the four featured in the Absences and (Im)Possibilities programme: Rouzbeh Rashidi, Dean Kavanagh, Michael Higgins and myself. It could be argued that we’ve created a sort of ‘scene’, however small and marginal. Beyond that, there are two or three Irish filmmakers that I am aware of as coming from a somewhat similar place. But this question of experimental film production in Ireland also comes down to how one defines ‘experimental film’- there are, of course, so many different approaches. It’s a broad and sometimes contested territory. We have our own brand of ‘experimental film’ but it’s certainly not the only one, nor should it be. There is much experimental moving image work happening in Irish artists’ film and video that has nothing in common with what we’re up to. So I’d say there is an upsurge in experimental work happening in Ireland but this is the product of multiple scenes. And as to the question of EFS being a movement (which has been mooted by some people), only time can answer that one. We’re just concerned with doing our work.

SF:  You've written on the difficulties of getting experimental feature-length work exhibited -- in line with that, I wonder what your thoughts are on the space for experimental cinema in Ireland generally? 

RR:  In this age of digital revolution, the entire process of film distribution has been reversed and torn upside down. By this I simply mean that in the past it was extremely difficult to make a feature length film due to very high production costs. But if you were able to pass that stage it was reasonably feasible to get your film shown, even though it may be a limited run at film festivals or public cinemas. Whereas now it is far easier to make a film but near impossible to get it exposed to an audience due to the sheer volume of products being made. It is this saturation that has completely killed the very term ‘indie’ or ‘independent’ cinema, and that is why I prefer to use the term ‘underground’ in relation to the works of EFS, because this term still carries a trace of radical agenda to some small degree.

I like film festivals very much and over the years I have seen a great deal of fantastic films at them and I have had the opportunity to meet like-minded people who I am still in contact with (film critics, cinephiles, curators). However, Ireland’s major film festivals (Galway Film Fleadh, Cork Film Festival and Jameson Dublin International Film Festival) have always been extremely unsupportive of this kind of cinema and consistently reject it for reasons unknown. I have been living in Ireland for the past 10 years, during that time I have been working constantly and I have explored every avenue to find support for our films, for example, this is the very first time that two programmes of EFS will be shown in the main section of Cork Film Festival. Other than this, no other film festivals in Ireland have ever supported us.

SF:  Similarly, the history of experimental film in Ireland is largely a bare one -- with the one major exception usually mentioned being the First Wave filmmakers of the 1970s. Do you see a link between that movement and the experimental scene today -- or, to your eyes, are the influences on Irish experimental film largely international? (Or are they drawn from other Irish sources entirely!)

MLC: Again, I can only speak for myself and, perhaps, some close friends. The influences are international and scattered all across cinema history. I don’t think I’ve been consciously influenced by any Irish filmmaker of the past. Inspired, yes. For instance, Vivienne Dick is someone I admire greatly. Another Irish film that stays with me is “The Dawn” (1936), a one-off feature made by a group of non-professionals in Kerry. It’s a miraculous piece of work and for me is the most luminous indication of what a classical Irish cinema might have been, a legacy we don’t have and which I regret.

SF:  Dean, Donal Foreman has compared your work to that of the Irish First Wave film-makers -- does this comparison hold true to your mind, or do you see them as an influence?

DK:  For me there is no direct influence from these filmmakers. Perhaps all we have in common is the country of origin. My influences came entirely from abroad, discovering the cinema from Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, USA and the Middle East. I’ve never felt too close to Ireland growing up, I always felt like I was from somewhere else, and cinema gave me a history that I could participate in and it could provide a place for me to reside that is neither here nor there.

SF:  Do you see a political element as important to your work? As part of my research, I've been looking at links between 'Third Cinema' practitioners and that of the Irish First Wave film-makers -- is the idea of a cinema in direct opposition to mainstream cinema resonant with you or would you see yourself as having no connection to the cinema-as-industry model at all?

RR:  I can only speak for myself, and I feel that everything you do in your life is very political. I really don’t approve of playing the role of opposition/resistance and making political films in this way. You may say that I make films politically but I never make a political film consciously. Furthermore, I have no problem with the film industry (mainstream or current Hollywood). I do not see them as an enemy, a threat, something to attack, but rather a completely different entity and universe. They are doing exactly what they are programmed to do, to make entertainment and sell it to the mass audience. I have no relation to this at all as I come from a totally different background and system of filmmaking, which I formed and forged through the years as an individual. I never wanted to be part of the film industry and make films within it, even though I dearly wish I could be someone like Erich von Stroheim; to make films within the system and subvert it and even destroy it from the inside out, but I simply do not have the ability to so it, so I make films in a different manner.

You see- I really couldn’t care less about stories, concepts, notions, themes, messages or any other system of thought in this manner. Everyone has something to say that is so very general and its value diminishes once it is put through this system, so we should just put it aside. Furthermore, I am deeply interested in the craft of cinema and ‘how’ you want to express these things. I am interested in techniques, skills, expertise, engineering, science, and the laboratory of cinematic experimentation; like some kind of scientist or surgeon. I am interested in what unique ways the techniques we have offer the world something through cinema, in order to communicate with the audience. I prefer to be in this cold, mechanistic and apparatus-oriented world when I engage with cinema, similar to a 19th century inventor like Thomas Alva Edison & William K.L. Dickson, The Lumière Brothers, Edwin S. Porter or Georges Méliès. I prefer to approach cinema in this way.

DK:  I try to avoid the ‘political’ elements but I am sure they are there; it is impossible to eradicate them entirely. I work within my own personal politic; a film as an extension of myself or as something I could never be. Furthermore, I have worked in the industry on occasion as a freelance editor, cinematographer/lighting cameraman/ camera assistant and AD, I find the industry very interesting. It’s a good place to hone your skills. But as for my films, they have no connection to the industry whatsoever, except that I shoot with Canon, Sony or edit with Final Cut or Avid, or use Cooke, Canon or Zeiss lenses, Arri lamps etc.

My films are in opposition to mainstream though it is not a political strategy or a direct vengeance of any kind. I see cinema as a communication to another entity through artificial documentation. With this you can break down the signal, cross signals and remove any solid message entirely, leaving the recipient with a communiqué similar to noise on a transistor radio. In my mind this is very beautiful, there are different choices to make and these choices allow intimacy; whether you touch someone on the hand or on the face (and in what context). The industry mode removes these choices, serves you a definite context, leaving you with a telegram. So in many ways my films are in opposition just by their very existence.

The very core of the cinema-as-industry model is the polar opposite to my own views on cinema and of my films. Monetary value of an‘art object’ and the demands of the consumer society, as you know have the ultimate impact on cinema as an industry. However, through my mode of production my friends make up the majority of my audience, and perhaps then it is a shame I don’t have more friends. I make films because I feel and uncontrollable need to do so. I have felt this need from as far back as I can remember. There are no controls only the limit of technology; I have no producer over my shoulder handing me money or taking it away and there is nobody telling me what I can or cannot do.

The only thing my films have in common with the produce of the ‘industry’ is that they are all part of the whole history of cinema and filmmaking. So in that sense these commodities are like the distant cousins I don’t’ necessarily have to like or talk with; we all come from the same beginnings but we have made our own paths to the present and these diverged long ago.

SF:  Is there any aspect of modern Irish cinema to which you feel an affinity to, in terms of it evidencing some of the same concerns as your work? Mark O'Connor, on the release of his film Stalker in 2012, released a manifesto detailing his vision for the future of Irish film in which he called for a more personal cinema driven by a more singular vision -- is this, to your mind, entirely distinct from your practices or are there similarities?

MLC: I don’t see any real affinity between us and the filmmakers discussed in that piece. True, the call for a more personal cinema is laudable. But I think we’re coming from a completely different place: a different sensibility, a different context, a different set of influences and concerns, and a different relationship with the audience. We have no real connection with the Irish film industry, not even an adversarial one. It’s a different universe that we inhabit- or, I’d almost say, that we’ve created to inhabit.

RR:  We absolutely have no connection or affinity of any kind with this, whatsoever.

SF:  I'd also love to hear your thoughts on [Mark O’Connor’s] claim that restrictions such as the 180-degree rule in filmmaking no longer apply, due to the increasing sophistication of audiences -- is there a freedom to modern experimental cinema which wasn't accessible by earlier practitioners simply due to the media-literacy of their audience, or is this not something relevant to your work?

MLC: Well, experimental film has always been about pushing the boundaries of cinematic perception for the audience. But I must say I’m somewhat surprised by his comments about ‘new techniques’ in this paragraph. These techniques were innovations in the ‘60s. Cinema has completely absorbed them and now it depends entirely on how they’re used. They can still be put to challenging and exciting use but, when used sloppily, they’ve also become clichés of modern film. Rouzbeh Rashidi spoke for us both when he said: “I believe the limits of cinema have already been reached by Structuralist filmmakers like Sharits, or by Garrel's early films, for instance. You can't go beyond that. But if a filmmaker's experiments are true to his or her perception and personality, the medium's possibilities are constantly renewed.” Now, occasionally a film does come along, like “Leviathan” (2012), which really does manage to expand cinema in terms of new techniques born of new technology- and by this I mean something really different and not just a bigger, louder way of doing something that’s always been done. But these are very rare.

SF:  Similarly, do artists such as Clare Langan seem to you to be working in the same tradition of experimental cinema? It seems to me that, perhaps also due to much of the work being ultimately available online, barriers between works classed differently due to their context of exhibition are weaker than before, and more work exists in liminal spaces between these contexts, but is this something which you'd agree with or would you say artists' cinema is a separate tradition to your work or the work Mark O'Connor classes as the avant-garde?

MLC: Boundaries have certainly become more fluid generally. With everything up for grabs, it comes down to how you define yourself. My culture is cinema: film history, including experimental film but not exclusively that. I’ve done live performance, installations, sound work, and videos made specifically for the internet that address internet consumption of moving images. But the subject is always, somehow, cinema. I’m always working as a filmmaker, in the sense of Serge Daney’s distinction between love of cinema and passion for cinema: the former is unquestioning acceptance of cinema as is, the latter the desire to question it and test its limits. Today these limits are extremely blurred and what I do reflects that but always with a sense of responsibility to cinema’s history. I don’t know if this answers your question exactly but I think it serves as an example of the current fluidity of these boundaries.

SF:  Speaking of international influences, considering that obviously the EFS itself is in an international organisation founded in Iran -- is it coherent to still speak of this kind of cinema in national terms? In other words, when Irish filmmakers may be working abroad, when filmmakers not born in Ireland may be working here with Irish influences, and when much work is effectively exhibited globally via the internet, is work, to your mind, still divisible into 'Irish experimental cinema' and 'non-Irish experimental cinema'?

RR:  When I was living in Iran I was a complete alien. I made films with limited resources and screened them to my limited circle of friends. I had no connection whatsoever to Iranian society, government or anything else. I just didn’t care about anything except making films and screening them in an ‘underground’ environment.

When I moved to Ireland, I practically resumed the same attitude. I don’t believe in national cinema, I only believe in the ‘continent of cinema’ that all of the films belong to. They belong to everyone from any nationality. I never felt like I belonged to any specific place or culture. I think EFS films are very much universal and can be understood by any creature including extra-terrestrial life. As far as I am concerned, regarding my own work and some EFS fellow filmmakers like Max Le Cain and Dean Kavanagh, we could well be on Mars and we would still make the exact same type of films. Having said that, we are very much in debt to many Irish organisations and NGOs such as The Arts Council of Ireland, IFI, Cork Film Centre/Gallery, The Guesthouse Cork, Triskel Arts Centre, Chester Beatty Library and other places, without their tremendous support we would not be able to continue, so in that sense I am extremely grateful to Ireland.

DK:  What is so wonderful and important about EFS is that it is international with different voices from all corners. But nationality has never been something very important to me, I first became truly aware of it when I was filling out my first festival submission form and then my passport; I think of it as a technicality. If an artist lives in a certain place and produces work in that place he is contributing to the culture of that place, so in that sense I am an Irish filmmaker but if I moved to Brazil it would get complicated.

Perhaps I am an Irish filmmaker by-proxy and my films are said to contain many specifically ‘Irish’/rural landscapes and ‘Irish’ faces, though this is a byproduct of shooting in your own backyard, I think there is something there beyond the very obvious national identity, something far more universal, more complex. I would consider what I am producing to be a very personal cinema that is not specifically national. Perhaps it is not for me to decide.

MLC: The basic tenet of EFS is personal filmmaking. Questions of the national identity of our work don’t really concern us when we make films. It just isn’t terribly relevant. Of course, we all have our own cultural baggage but I think it’s true to say that we’d be doing more or less the same films wherever we were. It’s also interesting to note that, beyond EFS, most of the best-known Irish experimental filmmakers have been resident abroad or made work abroad. Perhaps we are still waiting for a properly Irish experimental cinema.

SF:  Max, with “Cloud of Skin”, you're making your debut solo feature film. In mainstream cinema, there's a widespread perception that shortform work exists more as a 'proving ground' for talent, that the important work is in longform, feature-length films. What are your feelings on the difference between short and longer works? Is there a substantive one, beyond the length itself? Does this carry over into experimental cinema, or is it perhaps purely an aspect of how mainstream cinema is exhibited? Do you think there's more of a space now for longform experimental works?

MLC: Certainly the sense of a ‘short’ work being less important than a longer one does not exist in the history of experimental film, where most of the classics are shorts. I remember being delighted by a comment British experimental filmmaker John Smith made at a symposium on short film in 2005: “I don’t like it when people call me a short filmmaker, I’m actually quite tall!” In an ideal world, each film should find its own appropriate length. (So far, the shortest I’ve gone is three seconds! And the longest remains to be seen.) But with the increased availability of digital technology, this ‘ideal world’ is arguably upon us with the restrictive costs attached to shooting on film no longer an issue unless, of course, you’re sticking to shooting film. Getting films seen is another issue, but producing them is far more achievable even with no budget.

SF:  Having just come to the end of a crowd-funding campaign, does this seem to you the way forward for experimental works, or are more traditional means of funding better?

MLC: There are basically two ways of getting experimental films funded in Ireland, outside of paying for everything yourself. One is through grants, the other through crowd funding. The sense I get with crowd funding is that people are getting jaded with it, there are so many campaigns going on. So it’s probably something you can only really do once successfully. Grants from public funding bodies are great but, by their very nature, are not consistent. And money available for such grants is constantly shrinking so the field is becoming more competitive. There isn’t a culture of private patronage in this country. So I guess we’ll all have to turn to crime sooner or later!  

SF:  The work of the EFS often incorporates DSLRs -- while, I appreciate, not being restricted to such -- and Donal Foreman has claimed that use of DSLRs "enabled a more extensive exploration of vintage and hand-altered lenses and filtration" in your work. Do you think modern technologies have significantly expanded the palette of what is possible in experimental cinema?

RR:  Again I can only really talk about my own work as other EFS filmmakers use a variety of devices and cameras. Personally I am a huge advocate of digital technology and, in my feature films as well as Homo Sapiens Project, I have always tried to push the boundaries of this medium.

I come from a photographic background so it is only natural that I use this experience extensively in my films. That is why I am very interested in lenses, filters, creative lighting techniques, in-camera colour grading, stroboscopic techniques etc. Digital cameras and post-production facilities are the tools of our time and I believe filmmakers must explore and even exploit them as much as they can. Cinema is a 100% technological machine that needs to be pushed to the extreme limits. I have always tried to surprise myself by experimenting with modern technology.

SF:  Finally, I wonder if there's a specific aspect or set of work in the experimental film scene in Ireland you're particularly interested in or excited by?

DK:  I am very excited by many of the activities that happen between Cork and Dublin. There have been and will be some excellent screening, performance, expanded cinema and music events taking place. Specifically I am excited about the possibility of an experimental cinema here in Ireland and the thanks goes to my friends Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain who have carved an exciting, challenging and vibrant cinema scene, making it a positive place to create more works.

MLC: Outside of Rouzbeh, Dean and Michael, I think what Alan Lambert is doing is extraordinary. I’m a big fan of his two feature films. And, as I mentioned earlier, I admire Vivienne Dick’s work very much as well.

RR:  I do not look at cinema in that way. I won’t try to find interesting things simply because they belong to a certain nationality, culture or heritage. In my view, at present all the territories and boundaries have crumbled down. Many great things and fascinating activities are happening in so many different parts of the world and I try to absorb them as much as possible.

  • August 2014 

08 August 2014

Feature Films Online

30 photographs of all the feature films that Rouzbeh Rashidi directed or co-directed. Many of these films can be watched online for free HERE

CLOUD OF SKIN Funding Campaign Successful

Dear Funders,

This morning, the Cloud of Skin Indiegogo campaign finished with funding at 107%. A big thank you to each and every one of you for your wonderful support.

Shooting will commence this winter. You will be updated on the film's progress as it develops. We aim to deliver the finished film in summer 2015.

You can also keep track on the production via Twitter and Tumblr.

30 July 2014

EFS in Fronteira – International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival

A programme of Experimental Film Society will be screening at Fronteira - International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival. The first edition of FRONTEIRA - International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival , runs from the 30th of August to September 7th in Goiânia, Goiás - Brazil. FRONTEIRA is dedicated to films that resist to predominant ways of cinematographic language, questioners of prefabricated views of the world that offers new ways of seeing, thinking and experimenting the reality. The idea is reunite unseen films in Goiás and most of times unseen in Brazil, from a various places, in a significant panorama of the contemporary worldwide and brazilian film.

  • Special thanks to Toni D’Angela & Rafael Castanheira Parrode
  • More info HERE and HERE
  • Complete programme and line-up HERE

"Return of Suspicion" (2014) is now complete

"Return of Suspicion" By Dean Kavanagh

Cast: John Curran, Leon Kavanagh
93mins | Colour | 16:9 | Stereo

21 July 2014

brand new first “teaser” for TEN YEARS IN THE SUN

Brand new first “teaser” for Rouzbeh Rashidi’s upcoming feature film TEN YEARS IN THE SUN. Coming in 2015!

  • Tagline: “A Film That Will Help You Remember To Forget.”
  • A film for Luis Buñuel and João César Monteiro.
  • For updates, casting and etc please visit HERE
  • Watch the trailer HERE

18 July 2014

Absences and (Im)possibilities in LUX Moving Image

LUX Moving Image will distribute “Absences and (Im)possibilities” as a touring programme of Irish experimental film to their exhibitors. Absences and (Im)possibilities, is a programme of experimental Irish film curated by the “Experimental Film Club“, commissioned by Irish Film Institute (IFI) International, supported by Culture Ireland. The programme features a selection of films from 1897 to 2013, chosen for their relation to the possibility of an Irish experimental cinema. From Experimental Film Society, the programme includes films by Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh, Michael Higgins, Esperanza Collado and Rouzbeh Rashidi. For complete information, list of films and hiring please visit HERE & HERE

08 July 2014

Please Support CLOUD OF SKIN

Dear Reader,

I would like to draw your attention to a very special film project by Maximilian Le Cain entitled “Cloud Of Skin” which requires your help in order for it to succeed and go into production.

Le Cain, in my view, is the most important experimental filmmaker and film theoretician in Ireland and definitely one of the most promising figures in today’s contemporary underground cinema. “Cloud Of Skin”, his first feature project, has been brewing for quite a while and will be both a summation of what he has done before and a new departure. Please help spread the word and donate if you can.

Support via IndieGoGo HERE

Rouzbeh Rashidi

05 July 2014

Rearrangement Trilogy Can Be Watched Online

Watch here:

(HD viewing recommended where possible)

29 June 2014

TEN YEARS IN THE SUN coming 2015

The production of Rouzbeh Rashidi's latest feature film TEN YEARS IN THE SUN has begun. This is relatively a new experiment and very different project than his previous films. The film deals with concepts such as voyeurism and ritualistic perversion in cinema with formalistic austerity favouring the realist contexts. The film revolves around the three main character (Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh & Rouzbeh Rashidi) and their odd behaviours. Rashidi is looking for actors and especially actresses to collaborate with, so if you are interested, please send an email. The film will be shot in Dublin & Cork and completed in 2015.

24 June 2014

Poetics (2014) Completed

With Maximilian Le Cain, Esperanza Collado, Alicja Ayres, Norette Leahy, Kasia Lech, Eva Docolomanska, Cillian Roche, George Hanover, John McCarthy,Anna Wolf & Polish Theatre Ireland.

Irish Experimental Cinema In St. Petersburg, Russia

Solus Film Collective, in collaboration with Loft Project Etagi, present the second stage of the American/Russian/Irish touring program of 2014.

Solus & Guests

Exhibition №8

Curators – Masha Godovannaya and Alan Lambert

The show will run from July 4th until October 1st at Loft Project Etagi in St. Petersburg, Russia.

This video-show «Solus & Guests» presents a selection of new and recent film-works by Irish filmmakers and international collaborators with previous contributors to collective programs. It reflects a current circle that has emerged in recent years in Irish experimental filmmaking and art, particularly in the presence of the Experimental Film Society, many of whose members are represented here. The programme includes artists such as Maximilian Le Cain, Vicky Langan, Dean Kavanagh, Anthony Kelly & David Stalling, Michael Higgins, Esperanza Collado, Aoife Desmond, Rouzbeh Rashidi, Moira Tierney and Alan Lambert.

For full titles and programme info please check the Solus website HERE

For venue info and opening times please check the Etagi website HERE

Solus is an independent film collective and platform for filmmakers working in Super-8mm / 16mm and DV. It has the dual aim of showing Irish short and avant-garde films abroad and international short and avant-garde films in Ireland.

Opening Reception Screening:

‘Absences and (Im)possibilities: Traces of an experimental cinema in Ireland’

This screening of Abscences and (Im)possibilitites is a condensed version of the full four-part programme.

This programme traces a tradition of experimental film-making in Ireland. It is curated by the Experimental Film Club and commissioned by the Irish Film Institute International. It features the work of artists such as the Lumiere Brothers, Norris Davidson, Vivienne Dick, Paddy Jolley, Barry Ronan, Dónal Ó’Ceilleachair and Jesse Jones.

More info HERE

This Solus event is supported by Culture Ireland, the Irish Film Institute and Dublin City Council.

IFI International is supported by Culture Ireland. The Irish Film Institute is supported by the Arts Council.

22 June 2014

Making Films

I have made 28 feature length films between 2000 and present (2014); twenty-six of them were made entirely with a zero-budget and two of them were fully funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. In short, I have worked non-stop both with and without money.

In my experience there is a big difference between no-budget and funded projects- a whole new aesthetics and set of possibilities would emerge when working money (and in my case very little of it). However, regardless of your situation if you do not make ‘narrative cinema’ you are entirely ignored to the highest degree. 99% of film festivals will reject you unless you have a very strong connection to someone on the inside and that person takes an interest and pushes you through.

It does not matter if the film is good or bad, it does not matter if you submit to as many film festivals as possible (paying the entry fee- which I am totally against unless it is very low and reasonable). It does not matter how hard you try and it does not matter if you submit your films or not, because there is a clear set design whereby the majority of experimental film festivals are only accepting short films (usually 10 minutes or under). Furthermore, this must be 10 minutes of celluloid and/or with a relatively narrative approach touching on socio-political subjects. So the realities of the film trade (with minimalist/experimental/lyrical/poetic narratives) may be fine for the occasional self-organised screening but now thankfully because of the internet you can release the work ‘online’ and a small opportunity exists for people to see your films – but other than that there is nothing. Forget it.

No wonder the early films of Philippe Garrel, Werner Schroeter and the experimental films of Raúl Ruiz, Stephen Dwoskin, Derek Jarman and similar artists were completely ignored and only when they were dead and gone were they suddenly prodded and poked for many retrospectives across the planet.

Considering all of this I still hold a strong belief in this formula: the lack of acceptance by the film industry replete with a misfit status can help you. Furthermore, being an outsider has value but you have to do whatever you are good at non-stop without paying any attention to unnecessary distraction.
  • Rouzbeh Rashidi – June 2014

19 June 2014

EFS Feature Films Online

Feature Films produced and directed by the members of Experimental Film Society that are available for viewing online for free. (this list updates regularly)

Rouzbeh Rashidi:

Michael Higgins:

Dean Kavanagh:

Maximilian Le Cain:

14 June 2014


Rashidi-Devereaux Cinema” was a collaborative project by filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi, and actor James Devereaux that ran between 2010 and 2014. They have together produced seven feature length films and eight short instalments as part of Rashidi’s ongoing Homo Sapiens Project. More info HERE

10 June 2014

Rattleboned Dog At Mealtime (a personal report on Gorging Limpet)

Photo by Dean Kavanagh

The projector has the ability to press a bullet into some old wound and only days later does the casing suppurate and the contents bleed into my system. This is how I feel about Gorging Limpet and this bears as much on the experiences I bring as a spectator as it does on the specific performance itself. I thought that now would be a suitable time for me to send on this very small document on my experiences as a member of the audience: an onlooker/silent participant.

“Gorging Limpet” is defined as a collaborative performance/installation project by Karen Power and Maximilian Le Cain.

Karen Power is an Irish composer, educator, improviser and academic who writes primarily for acoustic and electroacoustic forces. The two primary sources in her creative output; acoustic instruments and everyday sound-objects and soundscapes. I first came across Powers’ work when I saw “Involuntary Participation”, a beautiful collaborative film between herself and Maximilian Le Cain for Seesound in 2010.

Maximilian Le Cain is a filmmaker, cinephile and critic. He has made more than 80 short, medium and feature length experimental films and videos over the past decade. I was first introduced to the universe of Le Cain in 2010 by filmmaker, cinephile (and another universe unto himself) Rouzbeh Rashidi at a screening of “(An)Other Irish Cinema” in Dublin which featured films by Rashidi, Le Cain, and Irish/New York based filmmaker and critic Donal Foreman.

“Gorging Limpet” is described as follows:

Using sound, film and video, Gorging Limpet events draw on post-industrial space to create an uncanny vision of a world that remains almost, but not quite, recognizable. A mysterious zone of elusive sounds and mysterious images that powerfully interact to immerse viewers in a ghostly realm of submerged memory. The substance of this vision is the textures of the places evoked and the materials used, the decaying fabric of old buildings and old 16mm, 8mm and VHS images, of forgotten corners and uncannily familiar, if unsettlingly hard-to-place, sounds.
- Maximilianlecain.com

GL is entirely site-specific and I had the good fortune for having attended most of the performances so far. Each space was taken into account so as when GL moved to the next space, remnants of the previous were preserved and contained in the present. This process of accumulation and digestion is very interesting and even results in an unusual and mysterious nostalgia.

I recall the strange trip to a Cork industrial estate and the disused space of H7, where the birth would take place. It was June 2013 and extremely bright outside, there were destroyed cars, dormant coaches, an old American style diner on my left and the sound of machinery filling the spaces in between and sinking down into the cavernous dark of the open factories all around. On the right was a large dark brick electric power station; it was abandoned and the large banks of transformers and pole cables stretched around the corner towards a vibrating church that fed into the back of more industrial units. It was hard to believe that this was even part of the Cork Midsummer Festival- considering the chosen space on the outskirts. With that and the performance itself, GL could have easily toured from place to place like a wasteland circus, in tow filmmaker Michael Higgins (here as performer and chief of 16mm degradation).

The interior of H7 was almost chambered and empty at first, then a few metres in were 4 or 5 aisles of chairs preceding a large desk with chair, a small table with two S8mm projectors, a standard projection screen, a medium plinth on top of which sat a 16mm projector. On a small custom level rested a macbook set by Karen Power. With the overheads killed the space looked like a destroyed print of a 50s science fiction film: lightless apart from a rather large industrial fan turning in the draft by the entrance. This was soon blacked.

The industrial estate was silent. Once the safety instructions were read aloud the audience was led into H7 and seated. The sound was already low. It was a very foreboding atmosphere perhaps the combination of the location, the safety/warning, and the single-file procession into the black unknown attributed to this. It reminded me of the first time I was brought to a carnival and was lead to the ghost train or house of mirrors. Once the first moments of sound and seeping light began to harmonise the dread dissipated leaving only the mystery and wonder. This very matter-of-fact and general procedure seemed to unearth certain memories for me, and these seemed to fluctuate and integrate with parts of the performance. Some of these memories remained quite buoyant for the majority of the experience.

Some months later, artist/researcher Esperanza Collado curated an evening of EFS films on behalf of Experimental Film Club in the Irish Film Institute, Dublin. This was concluded with a performance of “Gorging Limpet Materials” described as a pocket-sized version of the previous outing in H7. GL-M took place in a medium sized room overlooking the cobbled streets.

In this environment the quad sound set-up was closer, sacrificing volume for detail. Lacking the large set-up of H7, the visual arrangement was pared down. The screen (this time included digital video projection alongside S8mm) was layered outward creating a three-dimensional effect. While the previous event coiled itself around steel and cement roots within the bowels of an industrial estate, GL-M found itself drifting through the monotone pavements of an urban space. The addition of a monochrome video projection of a wet pavement passing, halting and fading into light provided quite a different backdrop for the intermingling of sound and space. The same super8 reels presented again (with the scars of the previous performance) firing against sheets of pavement, buildings and fences through a red lit universe all crawling back to the towering cement-works on the banks of the docklands: the Limpet’s birthplace. The clicking and churning soundscape evolving with new details giving rise to a red flickering light that scanned a seated and standing audience. With the eventual invasion of outside sound Power never retaliated by punching the volume or distorting any of the sounds. She held her position firmly, maintaining the natural growth of the piece, which ended strongly once again with the sound of the Limpet in its new feeding grounds.

The third sighting of the Limpet was at the National Concert Hall as part of the New Music Dublin Festival. The room this time far larger with a wooden floor. The sonic spread was further and the visuals once again evolved.

The first event at the Midsummer Festival (2013) was deliberately seated. GL-M at Temple bar gallery was seated initially though once capacity was reached people stood and sat on the floor. GL-M at NCH was entirely standing, and initiative was given to the audience to walk around, investigate in an attempt to change perspective and edit the experience spatially, this was a fantastic experience.

While in H7 the viewers were confronted with physical movement, large adjacent 16mm projection, 2x super8, the experience was translated with the turn of your head- much like a fixed position camera set-up, the experience could only be altered with a pan or a tilt. With the introduction of the protruding screens at Temple Bar Gallery the audience could experience a totally different event based on the seat they chose and its view of the screen.

In NCH, while still remaining dark, a dull light invaded the room with slow diffusion due to position of window, the season and time of day. The audience now had the permission, the space, and visual confidence from the faint light to become mobile participants. You could move in and out of perspectives, even move closer to the speakers or to the projectors. You could experience the entire performance in motion if you so wished. Shadows from one screen fell further onto the next the further you shifted; the space between the screens was dark, nothingness but there was an energy there, it became ghostly. What was this void between the images; what exists between the frames of a moving image? There was an energy. Perhaps it was this energy that was the sustenance of Gorging Limpet.

Karen would interact to the small sounds around her and seeing people move between the sonic zones she would introduce new elements to one, diffuse them with another, isolate certain particles to front and to the rear. The sounds were moving inward and outward with a very fluid and invisible hand as ideas were forming and treating themselves to moments of air within the quadrophonic space. The projector fired off and the interaction was clearly building towards crescendo, all the while feeding into the sound pool that we were circling like debris going down the drain. The projector span out noisily. Max threw a black sheet over the projection screen and then a white one over that. The building atmosphere had leveled to the point of cinematic séance. He investigated the folds and shapes of the sheet with a lighter. There was something purely magical and ritualistic here. The atmosphere was extremely tense. In the darkness the sheet was illuminated selectively for investigation. For a moment it appeared like the face of a large iceberg, crackling and fortified with shadow. The flame was out. The projector shuddered to a halt. The waters calmed and the small flickering picture from the tiny monitor was all that remained still rolling its dead transmission. The sound isolated itself to one side and the gorging limpet could be heard through the stillness of the room.

The performance returned to Cork at Triskel Art Centre in late May. This was the culmination of a weeklong residency at Corcadorca’s Theatre Development Centre. The event was to be a reworking of the previous performance at NCH and contained the same elements: the red flickering torch, the monochrome video, 1x super8 projection, quad sound, miniature monitor, candle, sheets, lighter.

The space in the theater was far removed from the spread of the room at NCH, the semicircular presentation at Temple Bar Gallery, the semi-cathedral of H7. This was a long and narrow space with a high ceiling and set against a large projection screen half cloaked in bundled blackout drapes and a ladder. With the house lights on, the textured presence of raised grey brick columns, a rectangular screen on the back wall, a separate square projection screen and drapes all presented in this tall long, narrow space collectively resembled a cluster of aspect ratios gone insane.

Once the overheads were killed the throw of the video reached out over the square screen and onto the rectangular screen and across the back wall. The S8mm (now beautifully destroyed with the destructive history of the previous performances) warmly fleshed over the central screen. This was an extension of the previous two GL-M events, the introduction of the layered screens in Temple Bar and NCH now pushed to accommodate the part of the room as a screen once again similar to the S16mm in H7. As video image dimly moved towards illumination and cast itself onto the back wall, the blackout curtains disassembled it into various shapes. The flickering red light found its way onto the S8mm footage once again and spilled over illuminating the items that rested against the back wall. Though the performance space had significantly shrunk since H7, it had become more refined as the images and light rose against the back wall, towering above the audience who arranged themselves within the sonic space. The attempted lighting of the candle was very powerful here (the darkest space yet); the orange light momentarily took Max’s face and hands as he approached the tiny monitor.

The S8mm projection was shut off and the tiny monitor was left to bleed its transmission. The sound once again grew quite placid- in fact more placid than in any performance before. The sound of seagulls was audible from behind and soon drew off into the distance. The sound of the limpet feeding became clear once again. There was a strange sense of nostalgia to this performance: the footage of waterways, and cement buildings that had domineered H7 and Temple Bar have slid away leaving the urban movements of the footpath to merge with the dockland sounds of the industrial estate, its primogenial home.

Photo By Dean Kavanagh

The history of GL and its connections to other films through spaces and reverberation through time are very interesting to me. The docklands have been a fixture of Le Cain’s films for a long time, if not physically at least in thought: decay, wasteland, steel, concrete, liquid, shade/light, movement of machinery, a tactile movement in a place that appears deceased. To my knowledge his most recent foray into the wasteland was for “Arkady Feed” with Paul Hegarty (Seesound 2013).

Returning to the H7 unit was made in Le Cain and Rashidi’s collaborative film “H7HSP170 Regression”, here we can see John McCarthy drifting phantom-like through the space, beside the large fan and into the small kitchen. McCarthy also appeared projected in 16mm as part of the initial GL in H7. Michael Higgins also filmed much footage in and around the units during his time in the space.

Through Esperanza Collado’s programme “Spectres of Memory”, I felt a very strong link between Rouzbeh Rashidi’s “HSP 150”, Michael Higgins’ “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep” and the performance of “Gorging Limpet Materials”. There is a clear interaction with a personal film history and with the very devices and apparatus of filmmaking in “HSP 150”. In Higgins’ “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep” we can see rot and decay as proof of life; the lives and shapes that breed under the flurry of shifting decay and damage which is both form and content. Higgins assisting in the hand processing of 16mm for GL H7 and participating as a performer at these first 3 events is further proof that Power and Le Cain are keen to explore this specific area of blight and decomposition even further within itself to find the history and phantoms trapped in everything. For me, they all merged into one another for a night process that was the culmination of Collado’s programme.

It is this idea of accumulation and absorption that exists so strongly in Gorging Limpet. I was very fortunate to catch visual artist Atoosa Pour Hosseini’s mesmerizing exhibition “Luminosity” at the Cork Film Centre Gallery in 2013. In the main projection room she had set up two video projections, one of a mysterious object and the other opposing video was extremely minimal with use of a rectangular graphic. The varying light intensity of these two pieces in such close quarters was beautiful; the diffused light from both projections mixing and polluting the images morphing the entire room into a large texture itself. What is most striking with her works is that with each new video there is a ghost of the previous one. In time her works will act as some infinity mirror into themselves, each shift and change fading into the next.

Furthermore, in Rouzbeh Rashidi’s “Homo Sapiens Project” we see an internal feeding frenzy of cinema. Rashidi has recycled many of his early films into new entities and has continued to do so beyond HSP with feature length works like “Theory”, “Hypothesis” and now his upcoming film “Conditions”. Gorging Limpet takes the idea of infinity to it’s own metabolic level, though not as cannibalistic, the Limpet accumulates haunting memories of its previous hunting grounds in its own process of assimilation.

Gorging Limpet has carried within itself a very sensitive ability at creating a power. The more it moves from site to site the more its history becomes available, and it is a surprisingly tactile and not so alien history. Along the way it has become more complex and developed a subtle nostalgia for certain spaces and atmospheres. It learned this through what it consumed. And it is the ritual of feeding that I find so fascinating: Le Cain attempts to light the candle, approach the white sheet with the fire, the glowing miniature monitor and the presence of sound that is inextricably linked to everything in the dark. Now I look forward to where the future feeding grounds lie, perhaps a deep cave, a castle or even a nocturnal exterior performance would provide suitable vegetation.

Maximilian Le Cain and Karen Power are not just creators but summoners of the Gorging Limpet and partners in crime culpable for the large scale damage caused by the creature breaking free from its concrete home and into your mind. It is this rather exaggerated image that is so wonderful- the magnification of all things impossible to see with the naked eye. Whether it is the frequencies deployed in the soundscape or the sound of the limpet itself, the attention to detail and the desire to bring these artifacts to the forefront is at the core of the project. A memory is shared and created with these everyday items and spectral impressions and it is one that is simultaneously strong and elusive. There is a feeling roused by the knowledge that something is always there; though it is impossible to hear and we are incapable of seeing, its presence on the planet is as old as we are. However, with study and scientific methods we have made the invisible visible and the inaudible audible, and with Gorging Limpet, as with cinema, we are one step closer to our memories, fantasies and nightmares.

  • Dean Kavanagh - June 2014