Saturday, 23 June 2012

Sound Waves and Day Two at Open City

Last night, we opened the Fest with an experimental edge befitting of Open City Docs Fest documentary adventure in performance, curating and programming. 

With Marina Abramavic's 40 year career documented by Mathew Akers continuing to move the hearts of skeptics, we created an expansion of cinema through the London Contemporary Voices live sonic performance to Ancarani's Il Capo (of which I feel glad to be a contributing female tenor). Day two of Open City Docs Fest saw frantic activity across all our festival sites, UK Shorts, Slade's Artist Moving Image taking honorable mentions. 
Plus, a packed out, standing-space only Cinema Tent for The Strawberry Tree which I mentioned in previous posts below, with Simone Casanova's camera dwelling on a languorous, poetic Cuban reverie.
The Strawberry Tree, Simone Canasnova, The Cinema Tent    Photo: Gloria Lin
 Sound Waves is Open City Docs Fest's strand that traverses the aural landscape, in a wide circumnavigation - including documentaries exploring FC Judd's experimental music and radio maniuplation of the 50s and 60s in Practical Electronica,  a symphonic doc by Tess Girard exploring the synchronicity of sound, a nurse meditating on the final pulses of a life to a theoretical mathematician citing scientific synchrony, an omnipresent, universal pulse emergent in A Simple Rhythm. 
 The horror of losing the ability to hear music if you are a dancer, music critic or pianist- is losing a language as well as a primary sense, Lindsay Dryden's of Lost and Sound asks if our ears, brains and selves could let music can find us again in these conditions.
 For more participation, coming up is the workshop The Sound of Documentary, in conjunction with the School of Sound with a panel of composers and directors on how aural sensation evokes half the story on film. This may get you to reconsider choices and whether we really ought to stick to editing to twee jangly pianos on all our short films.

I was moved beyond, well words in the AV Hill screening of Adam Isenberg's A Life Without Words on the universal need for a language. With patience and observation, we watch the painstaking process a deaf sign-language teacher (who is also deaf herself) teaching three intelligent, uneducated deaf children who have no spoken words, sentences or self-created 'home-signs'; for feelings or objects. She visits them again and again with picture cards. 

A Life Without Words
The girl resists, walking away, tortured with ambiguity in whether she wants public and private language - or not. We itch for progress. It didn't surprise me to hear others in the screening moved to crying at the end of this film. I thought about A Life Without Words in relation to Wittgenstein's basic philosophical conundrum. Here, certainly it presented the possible cruel reality of 'the limits of my language are the limits of my world'.

Aesthetically sensitive, with hand drawn fonts, humour, eye-rests of chickens, cows, dogs and the insane beauty of the Nicaraguan agri-landscape, the whole pace of it seemed to place the viewer in an intimate position of care - time taken to divine the thoughts and motives of people who seek understanding but cannot be understood, by a lack of tools to communicate.
Audio-typed by a 230wpm typist for the debate after A Life Without Words with the Director Adam Isenberg with Dr Greg, Linguistics Photo: Gloria Lin
 Adam Isenberg studied linguistics. A native of California, residing in Turkey and like myself, has an unplaced accent and vocabulary slightly at odds with a presumed background. Despite mutual fluency in English perhaps, how many times have we had to clarify, well what do you mean? This realm of exploring how words shape our existence lead the audience into an unexpectedly passionate discussion of voices, agency and signs. In particular, the challenges of how he dealt with filming deaf subjects and ethical consciousness in documentary filmmaking
 Steve Maing of High Tech Low Life observes 1am revelry  Photo: Gloria Lin
Continuing that theme of ethics is a workshop, “When I start a new film, the less I know about the subject, the better I feel. In other words, what guides me is my ignorance. What does it talk about? Sometimes I simply don’t know...” says Open City Docs Fest’s Grand Jury Nicolas Philibert, Director of Être et Avoir and Nénette and Open City 2012's Chair is a filmmaker whose approach is based on the ethical question of filming the Other. He examines subject distance and limits at a workshop here.
London Contemporary Voices, Il Capo Re-Scored, Yuri Ancarani
More than anything, we'd love for you to experience curiosity and change beyond the screen.
For those of you that missed the London Contemporary Voices' re-score of the poetic Italian doc, Il Capo, you can hear the sonic fantasia again on Sunday with other sound designers/composers who reworked the film to different emotional effect. Open City's audience are growing to love heavy-duty engineering docs. Join in the love affair here.

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