on whit stillman, back with another film on the fly [& more thoughts on filming dance steps…]

Barcelona  by Whit Stillman – let’s choo choo!

Let’s hope that Whit Stillman’s new film Damsels in Distress is actually distributed in the UK. It’s true that he makes films with lots of words in them when that is almost a capital offence… Stillman’s films are literate and digressive [not theatrical, as in filmed theatrical dialogue] in ways that makes him a radical in contemporary English-language cinema. Yes, he films people actually talking, even discussing things; insane!

I love Whit Stillman, Continue reading “on whit stillman, back with another film on the fly [& more thoughts on filming dance steps…]”

on the country of the blind and other stories, first art critical response

In the Country of the Blind and Other Stories Installation NCI Folkestone [Ph. Guy Mannes-Abbott]

Adrian Searle’s review in The Guardian is so generous about the film I’ve been working on with Shaina, Ashok and Iyesha [CAMP] that I can’t help but post it.

“In the National Coastwatch Institution cabin, perched on a cliff above Folkestone, the volunteer guards scan the sea. Mumbai-based collective CAMP recorded the view, the constant traffic plying the Channel, and the volunteers’ casual commentary The result is an almost hour-long film recorded over a year. French church spires break the horizon, seen through a telescope. We follow tankers and canoes, ferries and fishing boats – and there’s the archbishop of Canterbury, helping out at an archeological dig along the coast, his hair a white, fluffy windsock in the distance. The artists in Mumbai recorded the observations and anecdotes of the volunteers via broadband. It’s a case of the watchers watched, and we watch too, following near-collisions out at sea, and blokes hauling up lobster pots. “Lobsters are giant Jurassic insects,” someone says. I’d happily stay all day.”

Read the piece here.

AS’s warm words had a warm affect, though I would only point out that it’s not a documentary and say no more -other than that Fruit Store loyalists and Dostoyevskians shouldn’t need me to!

Read the letter from the man, jocularly referred to as the ‘archbish’ on the soundtrack, here! And beware similar assumptions!

Probably should resist saying that I agree with him about the ill-judged mermaid too… I was too involved to see very much else other than Zineb Sedira’s very beautiful and complex film installation Lighthouse in the Sea of Time. I’ll post on what I think might well be her best work so far in time and definitely take the 57 minute train back for more of the Triennial and more of Folkestone itself too…

on the living of patrick leigh fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor – still from BBC film 2008

Ninety six is a good age to have lived. Both my grandmothers lived into their mid-90s, one of them to 96, a pivotal experience in my own life. Why am I telling you this?! Well PLF is such a vivid presence to me, principally from his writing and words and their conjuring of his feet and ‘heart’, that the news of his death is sad and yet the confirmation that he lived until today makes me happy. Continue reading “on the living of patrick leigh fermor”

on recognition of palestine, i do!

Free Free Palestine [BIG] Hyde Park London 2003 [Ph. Guy Mannes-Abbott]

As leaked documents make concrete, the state of Israel is panicked about the Palestinian declaration of independence in September and its recognition at the UN. I think we all know what will happen and Germany’s desire to see ethnic cleansing and siege continue will be supported by the UK [and Tony Blair of course, still fighting his permanent war. At least Blair used the phrase Israel-Palestine -just like Bosnia-Herzogovina; site of Crimes Against Humanity- while promoting his paperbacked memoirs, while the BBC journo -Sarah Raven?- couldn’t bring herself to say Palestine] and usual Imperialista desperadoes…

In the context of where things are now, I think it’s important that the world starts to recognise the Palestinian right to exist, such that they support and recognise its independence in September Continue reading “on recognition of palestine, i do!”

on the biting wisdom of poets [one], mourid barghouti

What is happening, hopefully, in Egypt is truly momentous and it has been a long time coming, as MB says below; “When it happens, it will not have happened suddenly.” He is referring to a wider phenomenon across the Arab world, which is, I think, really the end [the real ending] of the post-Imperial age, the beginning of the beginning [the real beginning] of a new Arab autonomy and matching political culture. That is the prize. If Egypt completes its transformation, then it will be inevitable though not immediate and not in a single step. As such, it’s something that I’m only observing with respect and pleasure from just one ex-colonial capital!

A brief introductory quote from Tamim Barghouti’s related piece;

“Tunisia sent out the message that client regimes fall – that if we can drive the empires out, we will surely be able to drive out their vassals Continue reading “on the biting wisdom of poets [one], mourid barghouti”

on appetite and a mystic chef, george steiner essays, new statesman 1995

George Steiner August 2008

Or; If Kafka were Hindu…

Every now and then I wonder about George Steiner. Mostly it’s positive wondering but something bugs me about him and it’s not what seems to bug most people I know or read that have met him or committed their view of him to print. Much of the latter is merely a distaste for overt intellect, especially a passionate ‘continental’ mind as well as distrust of the whole dynamic of translation, literally and metaphorically.

There are pedagogic and vulgar ego issues when it comes to Steiner but let me say in brief that I dissociate myself from the cynical Brit approach to him. What continues to bug me is essentially what bugged me when I committed myself to print 15 years ago [in the New Statesman, see below]; I hate it that he won’t credit Kafka, Mozart, even little me with the capacity -effort, hours/years of silent striving and error, the beauty of the attempt- to invent.

Instead, it wasn’t Kafka or Mozart it was “god”. Who? you might say. Religious faith is one thing [later, in Errata, he described himself as a “messianic agnostic”, which is anticipated in what I wrote below], but to misrecognise the grand smallness of human effort, endeavour and appetite is wrong as well as pitiful.

Steiner is a man with a good brain and that brain has famous and all too real appetite but it strikes me therefore as worse that he closes it all down when he approaches a peak to indulge in ‘god’-whistling instead. Such vacuity is the opposite Continue reading “on appetite and a mystic chef, george steiner essays, new statesman 1995”

on the use of strawberries and [not even] carnations, gaza one

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood continues to report with clear-eyed vigour from Palestine. Her latest piece on Dashed Hopes, the collective updating of an earlier report by 21 International charities about the reality of life under siege in Gaza is profoundly shocking. It is mortifying. No, it’s revolting. Even so it might overstate the generosity of the state of Israel’s collective punishment, now in its fourth year.

HS writes that amongst other horrifying stats [“35% of Gaza’s farmland and 85% of maritime areas for fishing remains restricted by the Israeli ‘buffer zone’”], the only exports allowed by the Occupation are strawberries and carnations and those only to Europe. But perhaps not! The report, to which I urge you to link to [PRESS or for a pdf], states “except for the humanitarian activity of exporting a small amount of strawberries, not a single truck of exports has left Gaza since the ‘easing until now’.”

In any case, Gaza is populated almost entirely by refugees from the ethnic cleansing of the plains of Palestine in 1948. More than 60 years later, the offending party is able Continue reading “on the use of strawberries and [not even] carnations, gaza one”