29 March 2015

THANK YOU JDIFF


Ten Years In The Sun was premiered last night in Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and I simply could not have asked for a better audience or screening scenario. We almost had a full house and the projection and sound were both flawless. It was the first time one of my films was projected from DCP in the wonderful Lighthouse Cinema. I had a Q&A with James Armstrong from NCAD who very kindly watched a number of my films, including Ten Years beforehand, in order to generate a context for the audience. I continued to chat with audience members until very late last night and I am quite overwhelmed by their amazing feedback and generosity. None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of Gráinne Humphreys who gave me this platform to present my film in her great festival, so my gratitude goes to her. Special thanks to all of the audience who made it to the screening (some of them travelled from different cities) and also to my cast and crew, without their support the film could not have been made. Thank you all! Onwards!

Rouzbeh Rashidi

"Photographer: Simon Lazewski"

26 March 2015

Ten Years In The Sun to premiere @ JDIFF


Premiere, Friday, March 27th, 8pm in JDIFF. Book your ticket HERE

25 March 2015

Film Ireland: Ten Years In The Sun

Film Ireland published a small article about TEN YEARS IN THE SUN. The film itself will receive its World Premiere this Friday (March 27th, 8PM) at Light House Cinema, as part of the Irish Official Selection at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Read HERE

24 March 2015

Dean Kavanagh on Ten Years In The Sun


Read the full article by Dean Kavanagh on Rouzbeh Rashidi’s latest feature film Ten Years in the Sun” (2015) on EFS Publications“. The film will have its World Premiere on Friday March 27th, 8PM @ Lighthouse Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Book Tickets Here

22 March 2015

TEN YEARS IN THE SUN @ Jameson Dublin International Film Festival



Here is a brand new trailer for TEN YEARS IN THE SUN (2015). The film will be premiered in Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on Friday, March 27th, 8pm at the Light House Cinema. Book your ticket HERE

20 March 2015

EFS Publications

"EFS Publications" is a new project spearheaded by Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh and Rouzbeh Rashidi. It is an online film journal that will be constantly updated as material comes in. It will mix writing by and on Experimental Film Society members with reflections on filmmaking and cinema past and present by an international array of writers. We hope that in time it will become a lively and diverse site for thinking, dreaming and discussing cinema and constantly questioning its limits.

Read HERE

19 March 2015

Julius Richard on PF4

Julius Richard has written a truly extraordinary review of the 4th edition of Pantalla Fantasma which includes what is certainly the most imaginative writing done to date on Experimental Film Society. It can be read here in Spanish. An English version will follow soon.

12 March 2015

EFS @ Repressed Cinema Portland


A programme of Experimental Film Society will play at The Hollywood Theatre as part of Repressed Cinema on Tuesday, March 17th 2015 at 7:30pm 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard Portland, OR 97212. 

Repressed Cinema presents works by five members of the Experimental Film Society:

Homo Sapiens Project (157) by Rouzbeh Rashidi – Homo Sapiens Project is an ongoing series of varied short films that provides, first and foremost, a laboratory for experimenting with cinematic forms. The range of works produced consists of everything from ‘sketches’ to fully finished and polished films. HSP (157) is a medium-length film that unleashes the sinister atmospheres lurking in an apparently idyllic rural environment.

Funnel Web Family by Michael Higgins – A prying look at the creatures that inhabit a home.

The Distance by Dean Kavanagh – A young man recalls a fishing trip from his childhood, but he is not sure if they are his memories.

Dirt by Vicky Langan & Maximilian Le Cain – A phantasmagoric mélange of live performances and elements of gothic horror, resulting in a haunting, intense and sometimes humorous portrait of Langan as performer. 

More info HERE & HERE

11 March 2015

Gianluca Pulsoni on Kavanagh, Rashidi & Le Cain


To tie in with the upcoming EFS screening in Bologna, Gianluca Pulsoni has written an informative piece on Dean Kavanagh, Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain.

Read HERE

Info about the screening on 16th March 2015 HERE

“TEN YEARS IN THE SUN” @ JDIFF 2015


Book your ticket HERE

05 March 2015

EFS @ Kinodromo, Bologna


A programme of Experimental Film Society will play at Kinodromo Bologna, Italy on 16th March 2015 7:30PM. This programme of short films provides a cross section of the work of current EFS members. It will be presented by Rouzbeh Rashidi, head of EFS, and filmmaker Dean Kavanagh, who will also be on hand to answer questions after the screening.

1_Luminosity (1) (2013) By Atoosa Pour Hosseini / Ireland / 5mins
2_Canvas Eye (2014) By Jann Clavadetscher / Ireland-Italy / 12mins
3_W.E (2013) By Bahar Samadi / France / 5mins
4_Pitpony (2014) By Jason Marsh / UK / 3:30mins
5_The Illuminating Gas (2012) By Esperanza Collado / Spain / 7:30mins
6_Murder (2014) By Michael Higgins / Ireland / 5mins
7_Friends with Johnny Kline (2015) By Dean Kavanagh / Ireland / 17:30mins
8_67-69-Take 5 (2015) By Maximilian Le cain Ireland-Spain / 14mins
9_Homo Sapiens Project (150) (2013) By Rouzbeh Rashidi / Ireland / 36mins

Total Running Time: 104 Minutes

More info HERE & HERE

25 February 2015

“TEN YEARS IN THE SUN” IN JAMESON DUBLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL


“I am very happy to announce that my latest feature film “Ten Years In The Sun” has been selected to screen in the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and will have its World Premiere on Friday March 27th in Light House Cinema. I want to sincerely thank my great cast and crew Jann Clavadetscher, John Curran, Dean Kavanagh, Maximilian Le Cain, Alice Kavanagh, Jennifer Sharpe, Kolmanovsky Ora, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Patricia Klich, Farideh Aram, Reza Rashidi, Eadaoin O’Donaghue, Mohsen Pour Hosseini, Ehsan Safarpour, Ginnetta Correli. Also special thanks to Gráinne Humphreys and all the staff at the JDIFF for giving me this opportunity to screen and share this unusual film with their wonderful audience.” Rouzbeh Rashidi

TICKETS HERE

19 February 2015

Alan Lambert on Irish Experimental Film

Alan Lambert has published an informative overview of the current Irish experimental film scene in Film Ireland. Read HERE

04 February 2015

EFS Films Available For Screening


Since the beginning of last year Experimental Film Society (EFS) has been working intensely on feature film projects that are now nearing completion. Dean Kavanagh spent last year shooting and completing “Return of Suspicion” (trailer) and “Polar Nights” (trailer). Rouzbeh Rashidi’s “Ten Years in the Sun” (trailer) was a full year in production and finally came to completion in January 2015. Michael Higgins’ film “At One Fell Swoop” (trailer) spent 2014 in production, it is currently in the final stages of post and completion is imminent. Maximilian Le Cain’s successfully crowd-funded feature film “Cloud of Skin” (trailer) spent the entirety of 2014 in pre-production and principal photography, the film is currently in post-production with a release date towards the end of summer 2015.

These films share production methods that are exploratory, improvisational and non-script based. In this work location and time are key factors, and in place of any dictum rigidly set by detailed storyboarding or the totalitarian constraints of a screenplay, the filmmakers respond to the place and setting, absorbing the atmosphere and crafting the film within it. These films are created from the interplay of sound, image and atmosphere rather than traditional storytelling techniques.

If any organisations are interested in these films, please get in touch (experimentalfilmsociety@gmail.com) and we will send a preview copy/link.

30 January 2015

"Cloud of Skin" officially wrapped


Maximilian Le Cain's upcoming feature film "Cloud of Skin" (2015) has just finished shooting:

"Shooting is now fully completed on my upcoming feature Cloud of Skin! A big thank you to everyone who helped in any way to bring this project to where it is now.Special thanks to co-producers Dean Kavanagh and Rouzbeh Rashidi: what a team! Post production is about to commence in earnest with me working on editing the picture and the wonderful Karen Power creating a soundscape to envelop it in. All going well, in six to eight months the film will be ready for screening."

24 January 2015

Experimental Film Society Statement (Part 2)

I recently took part in a Q&A session following screenings of films that I curated from the EFS (Experimental Film Society) archive. The programmes consisted of short films by a number of EFS filmmakers and a feature film of my own and both played to packed houses.  While the overall feedback was very positive, there were two harsh and challenging comments that really got under my skin. I responded to them briefly and politely, not lingering on them unduly so as to keep the Q&A flowing. But in the weeks since, I have given them a great deal of thought and discussed them at length with my colleagues Dean Kavanagh and Maximilian Le Cain. What follows is the considered response that I have formulated.

The comments were:

“The films in this series were so personal, formal and experimental that no-one can communicate with them. There is no way to enter into the world of these works and thus no way to enjoy them at all.”

“Many of these works shouldn’t even be here! I repeat- these works should never have been screened here.”

Essentially, my understanding of these statements is that due to the fact that the films were ‘personal’ in form, spirit and content they cannot be understood and therefore they should not even exist. As an underground filmmaker committed to creating intensely personal, formally radical cinema, it is certainly not the first time that I’ve heard responses like these. And not just aimed at my work but also at the work of colleagues and other experimental or even sometimes relatively mainstream films. Perhaps this reaction of violent rejection is a natural defence mechanism that kicks in when someone is confronted with the shock of an idea so alien as to seem fundamentally inappropriate. Of course, the history of alternative cinema is also a history of such confrontations. When a filmmaker gets this type of response, unless he or she is interested in provoking the audience for the sheer sake of provocation, it is because the viewer’s received understanding of how to ‘communicate’ with a film has been thrown into crisis. As an experimental filmmaker, one hopes that if the film works, this confrontation will result in the viewer’s perception rising to the challenge and that ideally he or she will leave with an opened mind or even an expanded consciousness. And not just with a broadened understanding of cinema but with a somehow enriched (or, indeed, disturbed) sense of perception itself.

However, the specific nature of the ‘personal’ aspect of my filmmaking gives this ambition a whole other dimension. Working as I do - with no budget, doing more or less everything myself and essentially inventing a way of making films all of my own - results in films that naturally emerge as something close to a pure manifestation of my thoughts and emotions. Therefore, admittedly, there may be certain elements of them that remain impenetrable when not experienced through my individual biology. Yet the remnants and spectres of internal moments that remain on the surface of the work are sufficiently present, when light strikes them, to communicate enough to an audience for them to form a relationship of their own with what they see and hear. And the emphasis should be on ‘a relationship of their own’.

Making these films is a process of freely exploring one’s own often strange and disconcerting perceptual reactions to existing in a world that appears more and more mysterious and unstable the more one looks at it. A world that we largely perceive through sight, sound and the medium of an individual sensibility. The techniques of cinema, therefore, are ideally and uniquely suited to investigating personal perception in a way that can reveal the nature of one’s inner relationship with the world to a heightened degree. Likewise, plunging cinema into such murky and volatile territory results in a profound research into the capacities, mysteries and limitations of cinema itself. The filmmaker uses cinema and cinema uses the filmmaker’s unique sensibility each to probe the nature of the other. Each goads the other on, each pushing the perceptual boundaries of the other, each revealing hidden aspects of the other’s nature. Far from using film as merely a device for illustrating preconceived ideas or conveying information in a conventionally manipulative fashion, this approach can result in confronting the audience with a vision that is truly unique. A vision that is as frail and delicate as any person, and sometimes as aggressive and enigmatic as well.

What results from this open, exploratory way of working is not ultimately solipsistic but profoundly interpersonal. The filmmaker is not presenting the audience with a pre-digested idea expressed from the position of authority that most films automatically assume. There is no attempt to take the viewers ‘out of themselves’ through entertainment or to ‘make them think’ in the manner of films with a ‘message’. Instead, they are invited to join the filmmaker in an experiential exploration of the atmospheres, emotions and processes that the film embodies almost in a spirit of co-creation. Each viewer remains conscious of his or her own feelings and reactions throughout the screening. And these reactions are as important a part of the film as what is being projected before them. The experience of watching the film becomes a personal interrogation of the viewer’s perceptions by and for that viewer. Therefore, the film can become as much about the viewer as the filmmaker.    

A strong audience can not only enrich but actually alter the film. These are films that can only be concluded in the viewer’s mind, not on the screen. I like to think of the film as a mysterious object drifting in the void of deep space. Both the filmmaker and the audience are satellites floating around this strange entity, both trying to decipher it in their own way. This results in a state of constant exchange: we are not alone because we have cinema through which we can communicate, viewer and filmmaker both on an equal level (albeit admittedly within terms set by the filmmaker). And what we are trying to communicate is something ineffable that we can perhaps sense but which only the techniques of cinema can make visible.

The difference between this way of creating and the traditional, emotionally manipulative narrative techniques of the mainstream are so obvious as to be almost not worth mentioning. To pitch EFS against Hollywood is redundantly quixotic. Today, with everyone making films and moving image equipment of one sort or another almost universally accessible, there is nothing exceptional about a film existing outside commercial structures. Through my own experience as an underground filmmaker, however, I have become aware of other, more insidious orthodoxies that have sometimes emerged from what was once radical, and which perhaps should be called out.

Cinema is assumed to have an obligation to operate within defined and accepted rules. But those rules are not just the rules of the mainstream. ‘Alternative’ traditions can be every bit as ‘safe’ and pander to the complacent requirements of consumers of these traditions as lazily as the most banal soap opera. Examples where this is prevalent include ‘mumblecore’ films, where ‘rawness’ is all too often an excuse for shoddy filmmaking; materialist films where the very fact of something being shot on a small gauge format makes it somehow worthy of admiration; and, most tricky of all, films dealing with political oppression or revolt which simply by virtue of doing so are accorded cinematic merit even if they are no more than reportage. Of course, all three traditions have glorious antecedents in cinema history, often from pioneering moments when such films were still rare events. And, still today, all three traditions do sometimes produce magnificent work (as does the mainstream). But the problem is that they are what is automatically recognised in many quarters as radical cinema, which gives critics and festivals an excuse not to look any further. They are frequently hailed by category rather than quality and the viewer knows exactly where to stand in relation to them while still being able to feel ‘radical’ or ‘alternative’. This is what occupies the margins, pushing anything else even further into oblivion. And this sells cinema short.

Truth be told, the audio-visual landscape of the 21st century is so volatile and measureless that anyone conscientiously working as an artist in it needs to keep on their toes as never before. Not in the sense of ‘keeping up’ with the new but rather in constantly questioning the value of what they are doing as against the vast quantity of moving images flooding the world and the unprecedented ease of creating them. Broadly speaking, we are no longer operating within a linear history of aesthetic development but adrift in a flood of stylistic choices (or simulacra of same) which technology allows pretty much anyone to assume with facile, cavalier ease. We aren’t links in a chain of historical development now. We are denizens of a later era rummaging in the boxes of bric-a-brac left over from that heroic time. This is not in itself necessarily a bad thing but, if one still cares at all about cinema, it is obvious that the responsibility in this situation is enormous.

Today, it is up to each filmmaker worth his or her salt to reinvent cinema in his or her own image. Nothing short of that is sufficient. This reinvention does not take place in a void. The lessons of film history should be studied and assimilated because to exist in the world today is to be influenced by moving images whether we like it or not. Studying the work of the masters allows us to navigate moving images critically and perceive them outside the context of what is generally fed to us in society. As a filmmaker, it is necessary to formulate your own sense of composition, colour, sound and rhythm – a voice and a heartbeat that is entirely your own. You must also discover and explore a universe that is unique and personal to you, discarding the alibis of ‘content’ in favour of presenting the viewer with something that he or she can’t see anywhere else. It is necessary to cut into or even straight through reality to reveal the deeper insights into existence that only the tools and techniques of cinema can touch. To forge a cinematic language entirely of your own is enough to accomplish this. Films should be born of a particular vision, a personal way of using sound and image. This should be the starting point of a film, which should then organically seek out its appropriate subject matter. It should not be used simply to cosmetically amplify or garnish an indifferent scenario.  

It is paradoxical indeed that in a world where moving images are our constant companions, interest in their intrinsic powers and properties seems at an all-time low, at least beyond strictly utilitarian terms – normally ‘how can I use this to sell something?’ Rather than the miraculous constructs of sound and vision that they can be, they have become simply the least demanding methods of transmitting information that could be conveyed otherwise. Moving image makers and audiences have settled for a codified and superficial relationship dictated by an accepted approach to ‘subject’. In consequence, like the human brain, cinema, TV, gallery installations, internet videos and all other forms of moving image work tend to chug along at less than 10% of their potential capacity. It seems films are not generally allowed to directly confront the mystery and immensity of things that we have no way of easily understanding, such as nature, animals, the cosmos or our very existence without trivialising them. Everything must be neatly reduced to bite-size portions of easily digestible information, a weak reflection of the world where ideas can be safely toyed with. Cinema’s vast experiential capacities are capable of so much more than this, but it seems the majority of people don’t know how to look or listen with any greater sensitivity than students at a lecture absorbing facts. As a Spanish film scholar recently said in conversation: “The truth is most people actually hate cinema”.

A Facebook friend of mine (Daniel Fawcett) put his finger on the problem with this reaction to the art world, one that holds equally true for any area of tepid moving image creation and consumption:

“The despicable state of the art world summarised here in a comment:

“He’s a really compelling filmmaker. I’ve noticed that when his films are shown in galleries people will sit through 45 minutes and no one will leave.”

Is that really the best that can be said about a winning piece of artwork, that people sit through it? Artists, galleries, art schools and critics are participating in crushing the creative spirit. Do artists no longer aspire to create great work, to truly experiment and make works with their whole being rather than all this pseudo-intellectual passionless dross? Nobody seems to take risks anymore, art should aspire to expand our consciousness and to reach beyond our current limitations not just get us a pat on the back and dinner invitations from art world chums. As Campbell said in his acceptance speech “the opinions of the people on the jury matter a great deal” so that’s what it's all about folks!”

So what should cinema be? I have always liked Nicole Brenez’s ideal definition of art as ‘a catastrophe’. Cinema should be a catastrophe in the way that life is, in the way that opening your eyes on the world every morning is. Personally, I like to define the cinematic experience as something similar to what some scientists predict death by falling into a black hole could be like. When you fall in, you are not only pulled apart but also crushed from below. When you look out of the black hole, you see every single thing that has even fallen into it since its birth, rushing at you in a fraction of a second, crushing you into nothingness. Cinema itself is not a black hole. It is a human creation. But it can contain all galaxies and forms of life, even ones we can’t fully comprehend but can only sense.

As Robert Bresson said: “I believe in cinema”.

  • Written by Maximilian Le Cain, Dean Kavanagh & Rouzbeh Rashidi

22 January 2015

17 January 2015

HSP (191-199) Completed


Made with Maximilian Le Cain & Dean Kavanagh. More info HERE