With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was applied to the horror genre. Yet the results concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris, is nearly unclassifiable. A host of stunning camera and editing tricks create a mood of dreamlike terror. With its rolling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding visual echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema’s great nightmares. The film opens on a thin, dreamy, young occult enthusiast, Allan Gray. He checks into a creepy hotel and goes to bed. An old man enters his room and warns him that, ‘she must not die’. The old man leaves a package ‘to be opened after my death’. Gray gets out of bed and experiences a series of strange events. He sees shadows of a man with a peg leg (the shadow later finds its owner and rejoins it). He meets an old man with a moustache who asks, ‘Do you hear that?’ Gray replies that he hears children. The old man tells him with a sinister stare that there are no children here. Like David Lynch or Luis Bunuel, Dreyer is one of the few filmmakers who can capture the elusive, intangible feel of a fleeting dream. Carl Dreyer, with cinematographer Rudolph Mat, creates some trick shots that have been imitated many times over the years, and some atmospheric shots that have yet to be duplicated. Accompanied by an original live music composition and performance by South African artsts A Hollow in the Land and Givan Lotz.
GIVAN LÖTZ is a multidisciplinary sound and image artist. He can be found stretching, subverting and reassembling our understanding of the creative arts. He currently lives and works in Johannesburg.
A HOLLOW IN THE LAND are husband and wife team Jacob van der Westhuizen (also known as experimental musican Jacob Israel) and Ola Kobak (the leading member of Folktronica act Fulka). They currently reside in Pretoria, South Africa, and work from their studio,“‘Benjamin’.
Zero for Conduct is a 1933 French featurette directed by Jean Vigo. It was first shown on 7 April 1933, and was subsequently banned in France until 15 February 1946. In the film, four rebellious young boys at a repressive French boarding school plot and execute a revolt against their teachers and take over the school. The school is wretchedly bad. They serve nothing but beans (everyone calls the cook, Mrs. Bean), the teachers are inept, and the dean is a dwarf with a huge beard who keeps his hat under glass. The boys begin by ripping up their bedding and throwing white feathers everywhere. Then Vigo takes the film into slow motion, as the boys line up for a parade. The floating feathers surround them, hanging in the air. Then our three heroes (plus one more) climb up on the roof, and begin pelting teachers with all kinds of debris. Then, they hop-frog along the rooftop to their escape, and run off into the sunset. The film draws extensively on Vigo’s boarding school experiences to depict a repressive and bureaucratised educational establishment, in which surreal acts of rebellion occur, reflecting Vigo’s anarchist view of childhood. The title refers to a grade the boys get which prevents them from going out on Sundays.
An original soundtrack has been composed by Johannesburg post-rock cinematic band, EYES LIKE MIRRORS.
During this session African filmmakers and audiences are exposed to rare titles from the international experimental / avant-garde film tradition, as well as to informal but structured discussion from the perspective of a local academic / intellectual. This year, South African philosopher of film – Bert Olivier – will bring the resources of philosophy to bear on Dietmar Brehm’s ‘The Murder Mystery’. The discussion will be a dialogic exploration of (rather than philosophical imposition onto) the “enigma of perception” at the heart of Brehm’s underground psychothriller. The screening will include a short interview with the filmmaker recorded in 2000. The discussion will be led by Jan Koster, Head of Film Theory at The Open Window Department of Film Arts.
DIETMAR BREHM is a multi-award-winning draftsman, painter, photographer, filmmaker, and university professor that works in Linz, Austria where he was born in 1947. Since 1974 he has produced close on 200 short films / videos - almost always on his own, often constructed out of found-footage, particularly receptive to the creative role of chance and oversight, and widely screened (about 1000 exhibitions) at home and abroad.
Bert Olivier is Professor of Philosophy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. He holds an M.A. and D.Phil in Philosophy, has held Postdoctoral Fellowships in Philosophy at Yale University in the USA on more than one occasion, and has held a Research Fellowship at The University of Wales, Cardiff. At NMMU he teaches various sub-disciplines of philosophy, as well as film studies, media and architectural theory, and psychoanalytic theory. He has published widely in the philosophy of culture, of art and architecture, of cinema, music and literature, as well as the philosophy of science, epistemology, psychoanalytic, social, media and discourse-theory.
Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg the film follows horror film conventions in telling the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent behaviour. The narrative is divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. After premiering at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where Gainsbourg won the festival’s award for Best Actress, the film immediately caused controversy, with critics generally praising the film’s artistic execution but strongly divided regarding its substantive merit. Other awards won by the film include the Robert Award for best Danish film, The Nordic Council Film Prize for best Nordic film and the European Film Award for best cinematography. The film is dedicated to the Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-86).
Courtesy of the DANISH EMBASSY of South Africa
Europa is an hallucinatory Danish film set in postwar Germany. A strange, haunting, labyrinthine film about a naive American in Germany just after the end of World War II. The American, named Leo, doesn’t quite know what he’s doing there; he has come to take a role in rebuilding the country because, he explains, it’s about time Germany was shown some kindness. No matter how that sounds, he is not a Nazi sympathizer or even particularly pro- German - just confused. His uncle, who works on the railroad, gets Leo a job as a conductor on a Pullman car, and he is gradually drawn into a whirlpool of Germany’s shames and secrets. The narrative is told in a deliberately disjointed style by the film’s Danish director, Lars Von Trier, whose strength is in the film’s astonishing visuals. He shoots in black and white and color, he uses double-exposures, optical effects and trick photography, he places his characters inside a many-layered visual universe so that they sometimes seem like insects, caught between glass for our closer examination.
The movie is symbolic, although perhaps in a different way for every viewer. Perhaps a film about the death throes of Nazism, which is represented by the train, and the moral culpability of Americans and others who turned up too late to save the victims of these trains and the camps where they delivered their doomed human cargo. The train, and the Nazi state, are dead, but like cartoon figures they continue to jerk through their motions; the message from the brain has not reached the body. Many of the special-effects sequences are computer enhanced, but even the “live” scenes have an unsettling, surreal quality to them (colors changing abruptly, backgrounds shifting without warning, etc.).
Courtesy of the DANISH EMBASSY of South Africa
In Souleymane Cisse’s hypnotic Yeelen (Brightness), a young Bambara native, Niankoro (Issiaka Kane), leaves his mother’s house on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Along the way he negotiates the implications of his magical powers and sexuality before battling the sorcerer father who abandoned him and his mother many years ago. This wondrous, purist statement evokes an ancient cosmos on the brink of destruction and whose rebirth hinges on the young Niankoro’s will to resist his father’s spiritual contrivances. "You have to know how to betray in order to succeed," says the malicious Soma (Niamanto Sanogo) in the film, anticipating the final battle with his son but also pointing to various other patriarchal clashes. King Rouma Boll (Balla Moussa Keita) asks Niankoro to help his wife, Attou (Aoua Sangare), conceive a child, but the magician’s penis betrays him and sleeps with the woman instead. And rather than punish his wife and Niankoro, the defeated king gives the woman away to the young man to follow him as his wife and guide though the film’s barren topography. The focus on the power of the mother-son relationship in the film (Niankoro’s mother bathes herself with milk while praying for the safety of her son) truly evokes a Mother Africa dependent on female self-abnegation. This is a distinctly African film, but because the spiritual struggles depicted here are so familiar and often central to countless religions, its scope and appeal is universal. Just as there’s no mistaking the story’s Oedipal overtones, there’s an Eden-like vibe to many of the film’s more elemental sequences. Cisseécan evoke the wondrous magical powers of the film’s Bambara people with as a little as a dog and an Albino native walking backward in time. You won’t find an image this powerful and as deceptively simple in your average Hollywood blockbuster that never brings us as close to the souls of its characters as Yeelen does. Cisseétries to capture the Bambara people’s belief in time "as circular, not linear, always returning to that initial ‘brightness’ which creates the world." The film begins with a shot of the red-hot sun rising on the distant horizon and ends with Attou and her son lifting two egg-like objects buried beneath the desert (presumably the bodies of Niankoro and Soma). It’s a sign of true genius that a director can summon the rise, fall and subsequent rebirth of the cosmos with such a profound understanding and respect for the shape of things.
Review by Ed Gonzalez from Slant Magazine
Courtesy of INSTITUT FRANCAIS South Africa
PROJECT (13) is a creative collaboration between The Maeer Institute of Technology & Design (MITID) in India and The Open Window (TOW) in South Africa exploring new media exhibition design as a vehicle for integrating form, space and motion to explore the idea of THRESHOLD. PROJECT (13) aims to introduce, familiarise and facilitate students with the process of collaboration by providing a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural framework from which students can explore the relationships, roles and importance of design disciplines as key components in the process of producing creative work. The final installation will be presented at this festival.
Students working on the project are: (From India) - Shreya Joshi, Olivvia Swaminathan, Sahil Somani, Pragya Chhajer, Kimberley Helena, Do Rego, Tejal Gala, Tanvee Anturkar, Ajinkya Nawadkar, Shweta Apte, Harsh Bhangalia, Namrata Rajpal (From South Africa) - Sonia Dearling, Niela Gie, Titus Bogatsu, Jotam Schoeman, Danie Malan. The project is initiated and facilitated by Lodewyk Barkhuizen head of motion design at TOW in collaboration with Pritharshv Pushkar, head of user experience design at MITID.
RUNNING (Gerhard Thirion / video loop)
A haunting, existentialist loop about a man running in the desert. Where is he running from? Where is he running to?
MONKEY (Eric Stockenstrom / video loop)
Two men in combat. Two men dancing. Two men, each doing what the other expects of him.
Internationally acclaimed South African jazz legends Pule Pheto, Gibo Pheto, Thebe Lipere in a melting pot of creative exuberance completely unrehearsed, ensuring a unique freestyle experimental jazz experience. Mashed-Up Jazz Sessions is an explosion of creativity blended with highly experienced talent to create a positively charged experience. The idea behind the sessions is centered around reuniting three legends since their return from London three years ago. These soulful brothers have each reached amazing heights in the mastery of their individual instruments, having tantalized many with their musical abilities both locally and abroad. The first of the trio is Pule Pheto and his instrument of choice is the piano. The second is Gibo Pheto, his musical maturity resonates like the deep melodic tune of the upright bass (his chosen instrument). The third and final member of the trio is Thebe Lipere - he is a fond favourite of many jazz fans largely due to his distinct sound, and the energy he exudes on stage.
A stimulating exhibition of audio-visual works curated by Elfriede Dreyer will be located in different venues on the festival grounds.
A feature work on show will be Host II (2010), a video presentation of a performance of the South African born, international Performance artist, Johan Thom.
Another featured work is 23 October 2011: The rain begins by Lala Crafford. Her work is mostly installation based, and concerns the relationship between the auditory and the visual, light and air, and shadows versus reflections.
Additional new media works will be provided by second-year Fine Arts students of the University of Pretoria, mentored by Loraine Beaton and Frikkie Eksteen.
DOOIE DIERE (Dead Animals) is an experimental spoken word and music project featuring the well-known guitarist Andre van Rensburg (Battery 9, Supernature, Ohm), the modern music composer Franco Prinsloo and writer Kobus Kotze. The group explores modern entropy, lost identities, imagined futures, best forgotten pasts and untold histories. Franco plays an open, prepared piano that can best be described as a noise box. Kobus sometimes tells the truth and sometimes he is just true. Apart from small theatres and unknown bars Dooie Diere also recently played the Oppikoppi Festival and Aardklop National Arts Festival.
Keith Moss is creating an original soundtrack for TRIPTYCH - a trilogy of locally produced, contemporary moving image works by Karien Mulder, Lodewyk Barkhuizen & Francois Jonker. The soundtrack will accompany an outdoor screening and will be performed live with the Pazz Consort featuring sopranro Melissa Gerber.
Keith Moss is a composer that has won the Stefans Grov National composition competition as well as the University of Pretoria post-graduate prize for best creative output. In 2010 he was the SAMRO overseas scholarship winner and studied in the UK at various institutions. He has recently started up an ensemble group called the PAZ CONSORT that has performed in Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown and parts of the Eastern Cape.
Melissa Gerber is an award winning South African soprano. In addition to her love for Baroque and French coloratura repertoire, Melissa also has a passion for new music. In 2009, together with the Chamber Music Company (UK) under the direction of Mark Troop, she performed newly composed South African works at the New Music Indaba hosted by UNISA. In 2011 Melissa premiered Panamanian composer Samuel Robles’ Coplas at the North West University’s Annual New Composers Concert, sponsored by the SAMRO Foundation. Currently Melissa is actively involved as soloist with the Paz Consort.
A lecture / demonstration for visual artists, designers and puppeteers.
"Israeli artist Amit Drori is a theatre director, designer, and maker of beautiful, moving objects. His stage work creates a theatrical universe based on the use of mechanical and robotic wood-crafted artifacts, live performers, video projections and open source technologies. His projects evolve through a long process in which theatrical imagery and human perception work together like a beautifully complex machine."” Barbican, London. 2013
Amit Drori’s lecture will focus on aspects of the multidisciplinary process of creation, and the search for poetic expression in the delicate relationship between man and technology. It offers a chance for puppeteers, designers and visual theatre artists to look into the intimate world of personal creation. In the foundation of the art of puppetry lies a motivation to enter deeper into unexplored landscapes of the human spirit. The power and capacity of an animated visual image to bypass verbal communication has been known throughout history and, as such the art of puppetry has always been a platform for innovation in terms of non-verbal communication. This unique art form has evolved through the collaboration of performing artists like actors, story tellers, and puppeteers working with sculpturors, painters, designers and craftsmen. The infinite search for new approaches and tools of expression, made the art of puppetry a pure manifestation of the human search for freedom. The 21st century created new challenges for this art, as the development of the cyber and digital world opened new horizons. The art of puppetry has needed to reincarnate into this new world, and communicate to contemporary audiences with contemporary tools. Today, it is essential to understand technology and master it, in order to create dynamic art.
Courtesy of the EMBASSY OF ISRAEL in Pretoria and TARARAM (South Africa-Israel Culture Fund)
Sibs Shongwe-La Mer is a 21 year- old Johannesburg based independent filmmaker, writer, visual artist & musician with focused activity in the production of independent films for film festival purposes, commission photography, conceptual photography, advert development and creative consulting. Sibs delivers a lecture on the evolution of independent low-fi cinema with a brief voyage through the critical landmarks of no budget filmmaking followed by an examining of contemporary independent filmmaking trends & and a crash course in developing the narrative script for the zero budget film set.
One shot, one take, one chance. No editing. No special effects. Cinema distilled to its essence: a continuous single take on reality. The essence of cinema is the process of allowing time, space and action to unfold in a well-constructed framing of the world. By stripping the filmmaking process to its most basic core unit – the shot – we direct attention to the power of mise-en-scene to create meaning in film. This is the goal of the inaugural One Shot Festival. The short films on offer come from a series of community workshops and are shot using only a cell phone – no editing, no special effects and limited audio post-production - short and punchy audio-visual espresso shots. The workshop is developed and facilitated by Johann L Botha and Claudio Rossi, and will be held in collaboration with The VIVA Foundation of South Africa in Mamelodi East. Participants in the workshop will be selected by the foundation and will be offered the opportunity, through sponsorship by The city of Tshwane, to attend the iMPAC programme on Wednesday 02 October. On that day, they will be exposed to a presentation by a contemporary Johannesburg filmmaker, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, get to exhibit their films with participants of other workshops, and be exposed to the iMPAC short film showcase.
Johann L Botha has a BA in Film (AFDA 2003) and currently adding a psychology degree to focus on character development in film. This ‘character shrink’ in the making has 10 years’ freelance filmmaking experience in South Africa and Europe, from directing short films to working as a video operator at Babelsberg studios in Berlin. He is currently lecturing a short filmmaking course at the University of Pretoria (September 2013) called One Shot – The fundamentals of filmmaking.
Claudio Rossi obtained an MPhil in Film and Philosophy from the University of Oxford (2005), where he delved into the workings of genre conventions in mainstream Italian cinema in the 1970s. While at Oxford he developed a special interest in community filmmaking, producing and presenting a film review programme at local television station SixTV. Claudio was also a co-founder of a feature film development company in the UK. He is currently based in Pretoria, where he is looking to develop community-based film projects including the One Shot Festival.
Support for this workshop was provided by THE CITY OF TSHWANE
iMPAC was founded in 2009. It is a non-profit organisation focused on challenging and enhancing sight-sound thinking and moving-image content generated by students and professionals working in Sub-Saharan Africa.
iMPAC evolved to include a forum promoting the investigation and preservation of Sub-Saharan cultural diversity not just for filmmakers, but all enthusiasts, artists, storytellers and scholars engaging with narrative, context, history and myth-making.
See previous festival programmes and read about the highlights: