Jon Jost at IFFR
All the Vermeers in New York
Speaking Directly can best be described as an original mixture of a political film against the Vietnam War and a personal film: a home movie.The film is very autobiographical. While he made it, Jost lived in fairly primitive surroundings in a remote area of Montana. He presents his girl-friend, friends and neighbours and asks them for example to say what they think of him. He also appears in front of the camera himself, for a relatively brief time in view of the length of the film, but he exposes himself totally in front of the cinematographic mirror. The sensitive personal scenes are juxtaposed with more sober analytical parts.Jost uses for instance a number of very moving pictures of the Vietnam War which he repeats one after the other. During these repeated shots, lists of war events are summarised. This kind of element makes the film a fiery and passionate political plea against the former American policy.Speaking Directly was once called a 'wild ambitious' film (Manohla Dargis) and was the first film with which Jost focused the attention of the critics on himself. Jonathan Rosenbaum (American Film): 'A candid and challenging self-portrait, it carries autobiographical directness and political rigour a lot further than one might have thought they could go in film'. The film lasting almost two hours was made in one year by Jost, almost without financial means.The film was too direct and too radical te be recognised in the circuit of avant-garde film and too complex, too personal and also too directed at film-making itself to appeal to the politically-interested audience.
Sure Fire is set in the remote town of Circleville in Utah, which is far from blossoming as a community. The aggressive and authoritarian real-estate developer Wes wants to exploit this fact. He develops a plan to buy houses and convert them to holiday and retirement homes for wealthy Californians. Larry, a former school friend of Wes, is one of the victims of his financial transactions. There are also conflicts with his wife Bobbi and son Phillip; Wes is just as aggressive and authoritarian as a father. The hunting trip on which the young Phillip is initiated into the art of hunting ends tragically.In some scenes Jost consciously tries the patience of his viewers. For instance, the camera rides along a row of trees for minutes on end and the spectacular end of the film is filmed in a strikingly unspectacular way. Jost says that he isnot aiming for catharsis. He wants the images and thoughts to reverberate in the viewer after he has left the cinema.Sure Fire was shot entirely on location in Utah. Jost likes his films to be a registration of the surroundings in which they were filmed. In this case that is a rugged landscape populated by strict and taciturn Mormons. Three Mormon texts are included in the film as titles contrasting starkly with the activities of Wes. They stress the mood of inevitable doom.The story of the film evolved on location during improvisations with the actors while Jost tried to integrate in the film authentic situations as found on the spot. Alongside professional actors, several members of the local population played a role in the film. Jost dedicated Sure Fire to his father, who more or less inspired the character Wes.
About the influence of digitalisation on film and television aesthetics and narrative styles. The debate is a precursor to the theme programme of the 1999 festival. With e.g. Jon Jost, Johan van der Keuken, George Brugmans.
Personal, intelligent and intriguing portrait of London, made by one of the figureheads of independent film-making.
Nas correntes de luz da ria formosa
Poetic stream of painterly mood shots that Jost made when he spent several months in the fishing village and resort Cabanas in the Portuguese Algarve. Meditation on light and colour.
6 Easy Pieces
Short digital video sketches that investigate the boundaries of this new medium. For instance, the interface with painting. Jost looks with his digital painter's eyes at the columns of Bernini by the St. Peter in Rome, at swimming Roman girls who dream of California, two children in Lisbon etc.
A film-maker stares blindly at the old and battered walls of Rome and thinks his own thoughts.
At Sea (Harbouring Thoughts: Adrift)
Jost did not film in a specific port, but collected pictures from his personal archive. A meditation about travelling and staying home.
Roma - un ritratto improvvisorio
Provisional version of a planned 12-hour portrait of the city of Rome, by a film-maker who makes the best possible use of the unprecedented opportunities of digital video.
Songs for Clara (work in progress)
Two new video works that again demonstrate the virtuosity of Jon Jost. About light on the old walls of Rome and in the hair of his daughter.
Dharma Do As Dharma Does
Trinity is an installation on a grand scale being prepared at the ZKM (media art school) in Karlsruhe that, in its final form, will comprise 10 projection screens and a special architectural space. The summary shown here, a kind of preview, consists of a sampling of images for a single screen. This concentrated choice provides an impression of the painterly quality of the images that came about by processing and manipulating a short shot (of one minute and 20 seconds) several times in a complex way on the advanced computers in Karlsruhe. The expression painterly quality can be taken fairly literally here: the images are often purely abstract and can only be compared with the famous works of the historic abstract Expressionists. The completed final work will be on show in Karlsruhe in the autumn of 2002.
Vera X 3
Boy meets girl in Paris. Sound familiar? But it ain't that simple. A film that doesn't want to be a film.
A video film as a series of watercolours. Light and colour captured in the North-east of India.
Jost in India: Teaching and Learning
Two short films done in the workshops that Jost recently gave in India.
America without glamour. An ordinary family tries to keep its head above water but loses out to macro economics and macro politics. And they have to send a son to war.
La lunga ombra
A psychological drama as political pamphlet. Very beautifully photographed. A beautiful Italian villa. A couple of very experienced actresses. Together ingredients for a very outspoken film.
An enchanting moving painting. Digital colour shifting like a palette knife in oily paint. For those who want to undergo a drugs high without chemicals.
The film maker once refused to serve in Vietnam and ended up in jail. His anger about war has not grown any less over the years. In this oppressive portrait, he follows a young Iraq veteran. Not a film to cheer you up, but that was precisely the intention.
Love in the Shadows
Three love stories, and all three times these are rather strange loves. For instance, love with a shop window dummy. Two Korean film students made two parts and their American professor made the last. But that part is also about love Korean style.
Imagens de uma cidade perdida
There is a curious difference between cinema and real life. Anyone returning home from a journey to Lisbon, who says how pleasant it is to sit quietly on a bench in the old city and enjoy the light, will be understood completely. But if a filmmaker does the same, it’s extremely avant-garde.
Coming to Terms
Meditation on death and its psychological impact on a broken family - a subject that has kept Jost (1943) very busy recently and which in this case he has moulded into a special narrative structure. The equally experienced filmmaker James Benning plays the father of the family.
All the Vermeers in New York
Vermeer's paintings open up a path to love in the capitalist rat race of New York. But its course does not run smoothly.