International Film Festival Rotterdam is known for setting great store in innovative cinema. But the cinematic past also has a permanent spot in the programming.
Regained is an annual part of the Signals programme which explores cinema's treasure trove and screens restored classics, inexplicably forgotten masterpieces and films and documentaries that centre on cinema itself.
The full programme of Signals: Regained is to be announced Thursday 17 January 2013.
Regained 2013 welcomes Michael Snow and Tony Conrad, seminal figures of the avant-garde cinema, for special screenings and performances. Also a treasure chest within Regained's treasure chest is Shivendra Singh Dungarpur's Celluloid Man, a documentary about the embodied memory of Indian film historian P. K. Nair.
Regained also salutes three of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers that, sadly, passed away last year: British filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin (IFFR filmmaker in focus in 2006), French filmmaker Marcel Hanoun and Japanese visual artist Stom Sogo. Each of them followed a very singular, intimately personal trajectory against the grain of the film industry. Just brought over from Japan, some of Sogo's Super 8 films will be shown publicly for the first time, before they enter the Anthology Film Archive.
A surprising discovery comes from Cary Kehayan, whose documentary introduces us to the private, colourful world of Avery Willard, a New York gay pioneer from the sixties. At the other end of Regained's broad spectrum are the new works by Philip Solomon (a reprise of Warhol's Empire, solely made up of computer game imagery) and Jason Simon's exhibition Festschrift for an Archive, a project on the closure of MoMA's Film Still Archive in New York.
Regained will be devoting particular attention to two seminal figures of the avant-garde cinema, both still prominently present in the contemporary art scene. Tony Conrad has recently restored and re-edited a whole series of video works, a colourful collection of unseen recordings from 1972 till 2003. The selection he compiled for the occasion is appropriately titled Bouncing off the Walls and illustrates many aspects and kinships in his long career. Conrad is also presenting a performative homage to underground filmmaker Jack Smith, including an audio preview of his upcoming vinyl release with historical recordings from the sixties, The Endless Tedium of Capitalism. Conrad was the creator of the original music for Smith's notorious film Flaming Creatures (1962).
The celebrated Canadian multimedia artist Michael Snow personally brings a series of very rarely seen works to the festival. Single Frame Snow consists of two works for slide projector and one film, all dealing with the theatrical presentation of still images. Within the framework of the Signals programme Sound Stages, Snow also brings along his classic film La region centrale (Canada, 1971) and two works that elucidate on his career as a musician: his own video work Reverberlin (Canada, 2006) and the brand new short documentary Snow in Vienna by Laurie Kwasnik (Canada/Austria, 2012).
All Magic Sands
New York film archivist and media artist Andrew Lampert discovered an intriguing set of film reels without opening or closing titles. He presents these both as a single screen film and as an installation with double projection. In idyllic settings on a tropical island, black and white kids mirror each other. Tracing back the history of these enigmatic film reels under the working title All Magic Sands, Lampert dated these recordings in 1965. Incidentally, one of his favourite jazz compositions (Chappaqua Suite by Ornette Coleman) dates from the same year and has exactly the same duration. Destined for each other?
In collaboration with EYE Amsterdam, a series of recently restored animation films are brought back from anonymity. Working in the tradition of Oskar Fischinger and his abstracted visual music, Maarten Visser was too much burdened by his own modesty to present his wonderful animated mosaics to a wider audience. Every day during the festival period between 17:45 and 18:15 hours, Maarten Visser: Piece by Piece can be seen on the video wall in the entrance hall of festival location Rotterdamse Schouwburg, accompanied by live music improvisations.
To recite and recycle, to recollect and reflect
There are many different grammars in the re-use of existing film material. Sophie Fiennes resurrects entire sets to allow the cult philosopher Slavoj Zizek to reflect on some of his favourite fragments in The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, a documentary launched as project at CineMart. With Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, festival favourite György Pálfi (Hukkle, Taxidermia) found a way out of his financial frustration by cutting to pieces hundreds of art house movies and collaging them together into a new film thanks to his virtuoso editing skills. In her documentary Behind the Looking Glass, Croatian film actress Jagoda Kaloper distilled a self-portrait from her own filmography, matching her recollections with footage she shot of herself in a multitude of mirrors.
Another form of cornucopia is the experience of two Regained compilation programmes with works often made by young filmmakers, but with a particular feeling of cinema's classics. Stephen Connolly (UK) revisits the locations of Antonioni’s Zabriskie, Angel Vergara (Belgium) paints over the faces of Pasolini and DiCaprio, Karen Yasinsky (USA) re-interprets the climactic scene from Tarkovski's Nostalghia and Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács (both from the Netherlands) revive Hollywood classics such as Sunset Boulevard and Wild at Heart in contemporary Los Angeles.