UK Filmmaker Ben Rivers in Person - April 4 (Chicago)

From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Mar 19 2008 - 12:34:11 PDT




White Light Cinema and The Nightingale are pleased to co-present an exciting
one-person show of the films of Ben Rivers, a rising star in the
experimental film world. Rivers has screened at the International Film
Festival Rotterdam (where he won a Tiger Award this year), the New York Film
Festival's Views from the Avant-Garde, the London Film Festival, The Onion
City Experimental Film and Video Festival, among many others.

Rivers' films tend to fall into two categories: minimal, moody riffs on
horror film traditions and tropes - particularly those of 1930's Hollywood;
and lyrical, poignant experimental documentary portraits of people and
places in the British Isles.

³This year's most noteworthy new discovery was the work of Britain's Ben
Rivers, a relatively young and highly prolific artist filmmaker. What's most
striking about Rivers's work, apart from the sheer physical pleasure of his
hazy chiaroscuro, is its resonance with specifically British cinematic
traditionsŠ Here's hoping North Americans receive more opportunities to
experience Rivers's gentle, poignant cinema.² - Michael Sicinski ­ Views
2008 - The Academic Hack



White Light Cinema and The Nightingale Present
Ah, Liberty! - Films by Ben Rivers
With Ben Rivers in Person!

Old Dark House ­ 2003, 4 min, 16mm, b/w
Rooms in an abandoned, burnt out house revealed by multiple in-camera
superimpositions of a single torch-light. This marked the start of my
hand-processing film, which I continued to use from then on.

House - 2005, 5 min, 16mm, b/w
My first sequel. Another old dark house, where only fragments remain of a
once animated domestic history, reoccupied by a history of horror films.
Crumbling interiors. Stained, peeling walls and forgotten furniture. Dust
sheets on rotting floorboards. The unfolding process of abandonment, decay
and renewal. All made on a 1:12 scale.

The Bomb with a Man in his Shoe ­ 2005, 15 min, 16mm, b/w
The closest Iıve come to doing a commercial - commissioned to show in fancy
boutiques in Japan, USA and Europe. Initially supposed to be a few minutes
long, the film began as a very loose kind of documentary, where I would turn
up with my bolex and lights once a week over a two-month period, filming the
various stages of making 400 pairs of shoes. All the superimpositions were
done in-camera on out-of-date stock, hand-processed as I went along. As the
filming progressed I felt we needed to get outside, to see what would happen
on a few walks in the great outdoors. Itıs pretty senseless.

The Hyrcynium Wood - 2005, 3 min, 16mm, b/w
I found the title in an out of date Thesaurus looking up the word Œmysteryı
­ which is essentially what this film remains to me.

The Coming Race - 2006, 5 min, 16mm, b/w
A film in which thousands of people climb a rocky mountain terrain. The
destination and purpose of their ascension remains unclear. A vague,
mysterious and unsettling pilgrimage fraught with unknown intentions.

This Is My Land - 2006, 14 min, 16mm, b/w
A portrait of Jake Williams ­ who lives alone within miles of forest in
Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Jake always has many jobs on at any one time, finds
a use for everything, is an expert mandolin player, and has compost heaps
going back many years. He has a different sense of time to most people in
the 21st Century, which is explicitly expressed in his idea for creating
hedges by putting up bird feeders.

Dove Coup/Greenhouse ­ 2007, 2 min each, 16mm, b/w + col
Two sketches

Ah, Liberty! - 2008, 20 min, anamorphic 16mm, b/w
A celebratory portrait of a familyıs place in the wilderness ­ living,
working, playing on a farm throughout the seasons; free-range animals and
children, junk and nature, all within the most sublime landscape. The work
aims at a sense of freedom, the scale of which is reflected in the
hand-processed Cinemascope format, and focuses on the youngest of the family
to show us whatıs what. Thereıs no particular story; beginning, middle or
end, just fragments of lives lived.

³To name an attitude black and white suggests reduction, but in this rural,
ethnographic portrait the artist unravels a thousand tones of each. How long
does it take until this overflowing bath becomes a lake, until the simple
forest drive (there is nothing simple here) transforms these children into
airborne angels of light? There is a tender brutality at work here, nothing
is polished or smooth or well rounded, instead the adventure of seeing is
undertaken ready to fall and bruise, to be wounded by its search. And it is
from this necessary wound that the artist joins in with the life of a family
grown wild out of doors with the horses and chickens. For its compassion,
its refusal of the sentimental, its quick witted montage and dramaturgy of
the everyday, the Tiger Award goes to Ah, Liberty!² (Jury Statement,


This program screens Friday, April 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm at The Nightingale
(1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.).

Admission: $5.00.


Very Special Thanks to Ben Russell and Jennifer Fieber for their invaluable
assistance in making this program possible.


WHITE LIGHT CINEMA is a new, alternative film screening series designed to
complement the programming of other local film venues and organizations by
presenting, alone and in collaboration, rare, obscure, overlooked, and
resolutely non-commercial films and videos that have either not been
screened in Chicago or have not shown in years.

While focusing heavily on great works by avant-garde film masters, the
series aims to include both retrospective and contemporary films and videos
that range across a wide spectrum of alternative cinema. White Light Cinema
will present works demonstrating significant aesthetic merit, originality of
vision, radical and commanding investigations of form, and challenging
provocations to mainstream film and media conventions.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.