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The movie is not the map is not the movie

10 Jul

Join us for an event exploring the relationship between cartography and cinematography.

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In this programme, a collaboration between Passengerfilms and Livingmaps Network, we are setting out to explore the limits and conditions of the critical space between film and cartography with a panel who are as enthusiastic about movies as they are about maps.

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Screening the acclaimed and inspirational film Lion (2016), based on the autobiographical story by Saroo Brierley of his journey of remembering and self-discovery. The evening will open with a panel discussion exploring illustrative intersections between story, place, journey, map and movie, and a short panel discussion engaging with Tom Conley’s arguments on ‘Cartographic Cinema’.

In his recent book, Tom Conley claims that the language of cinema and map converge in creating a mimetic effect, conjuring up an imaginary correspondence between reality and its graphic representation through similar devices. At the same time he argues that while ‘a map underlines what a film is, it also opens up a rift or brings into view a site where a critical and interpretive relation with the film can begin’.
We take this as a starting point to explore whether ‘the map is not the movie and the movie is not the map’.

Tickets available here

Panel

Phil Cohen is research director of LivingMaps, and many years ago wrote film criticism for Cambridge Review and initiated the Cambridge Documentary Film Festival. He will be leading the #LDNSHOKCTY salon event at the Museum of London later this year which will use interactive workshop situations and time-based media to create a ‘popup museum of the future’ which interrogates the pasts of London’s future and the future of Londons past.

Rebecca Ross is Senior Lecturer at Central St Martins. Her work explores the relationship between communities, machines, visual media and urban/spatial practices. She has researched the history of London postcodes and in ‘London is Changing’ created giant digital billboards as a platform for capturing Londoners’ experience of the city.

Katherine Stansfeld is a postgraduate researcher whose work focuses on mapping vernacular geographies in places of super-diversity. Katherine is based at Royal Holloway, University of London and is project manager of PASSENGERFILMS… ‘The car-crash of cinema and geography’.

John Wallett is design director of Livingmaps and a founder member of the East Anglian popup cinema project ‘Moving Image’. He is currently working with the Science Museum Group and Aura Films on a film / ethnography project about exploring deep archives, and will be part of the Livingmaps team delivering the #LDNSHOKCTY salon event at the Museum of London later this year.

This event is jointly curated by PASSENGERFILMS and Livingmaps Network and is hosted by the Development Planning Unit at UCL

Upcoming Event: Liar Lyre Sat 6th May

2 May

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As part of the Remaking Nature drop-in weekend at Wellcome Collection, PASSENGERFILMS is running a free live event – at 12-1.30pm and again at 2-3.30pm – on Saturday the 6th May. It brings together experimental geographers, musicians, field recordings, multi-media artists, poets and composers to play with alternative ways of sound-tracking nature documentaries in live collaborations.

The weekend as a whole is designed to reassess ideas of nature, as the exhibition Making Nature: How We See Animals comes to a close and in advance of a follow up, publically curated exhibition, A Museum of Modern Nature (“If you built a museum of nature in the 21st century, what would it look like? What objects would you collect and display? What purpose would it serve – and should we be putting nature in a museum at all?”). For our live session, we’ll be considering some of these ideas of modern and alternative natures, and in particular challenging some of the ways it has been spoken for or spoken over in soundtracks. Nature has a huge amount of media strategists, and this event will ask us to look again/listen again to the photogenic and mediagenic natures we see beamed into our homes in nature documentaries – such as the famous clip of David Attenborough and the titular lyre bird, captured here imitating the sound of camera shutters.

Each performance will be a re-scoring or re-setting of an existing nature documentary extract, wiping the sonic and narrative norms (stagey; cinematic; sensory; moral; sentimental; gendered; hyper-real; exotic), and replacing them with a newly written, synthesised, or improvised performance. A short introduction at the beginning of the session will highlight what these ideas and performances mean and are about – in terms of the technologies and ideologies at play, and the traditions by which the sounds of nature in its twentieth and twenty first century documentary incarnations have been culturally produced and imagined (but also erased). The first-time collaborations brought together uniquely for this event will include innovative pairings across scenes and disciplines, from Alison Blunt’s improvised violin to the mediatized natures in the performance art of Mark Peter Wright, each bringing attention to and subverting the norms of our usual ways of listening to and/or narrating nature – from the prudish anthropomorphications of Disney’s True Life Adventures series, set to symphonies emphasising seasonality and order, to the lascivious and psychedelic “eco-jazz” of Jean Painlevé’s surrealist underwater cinematography, to the ambient or droid-like futures of science-fiction and Gothic sound effects in insect documentaries of the early 1970s. How do these diverse sound scripts mark out certain nonhuman natures as, say, vulnerable, sexy, villainous, eerie, secret, garish, compliant, alien, chaotic, unpredictable, or even (in insomnia aids) soporific? What do they have to do with longer standing traditions of nature and its characterisations in literature, music, and science? How can we rewrite or remix these scripts, and why might we want to?

The film clips will range from the re-scripting of iconic moments from “nature’s nickelodeon” to the further reaches of what constitutes “nature” on screen, including lichens, shape-shifting slime moulds, or long takes in which the subject matter is simply a line of fog. Running from slow eco-cinema to experimental time lapse, and from foley recordings to lo-fi transmissions of extinct animal voices, this programme explores some of the weirder avenues of nature documentaries and their soundtracks – which turn out to not be so familiar after all.

Performances by Alison Blunt, Douglas MacGregor, Sylvia Hallett, Justin Hopper, Sterling MacKinnon, Sally Ann McIntyre, Mark Harwood, Mark Peter Wright, Angus Carlyle, Postcards from the VolcanoSonia Levy, Izzy Galleymore, Drew Milne, Timothy Thornton, and Amy Cutler; curated by Amy Cutler, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in GeoHumanities, and partly inspired by her third year Geography module Cultural Imaginations of Nature; supported by the Wellcome Collection and the Leverhulme.

Saturday 6th May @ 12-1.30pm and again at 2-3.30pm, the Williams Lounge in Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, Bloomsbury, London NW1 2BE. Facebook event here.

Poster (above) and screen-printed artworks on the day created by Max Bondi.

Dark Ecologies of Anime: Recap.

14 Feb

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In the dimmed depths of The Book Club’s basement, 40 people braved the rain for a Passengerfilms evening of dark ecologies and dream worlds. The night began with shorts, including Yamamura’s Aquatic (1987) and Fig (1996), Tezuka’s Legend of the Forest (1987),  Hara and Brenner’s Abita (2013), with Sugiyama’s Origin: Spirits of the Past (2006) as our feature film. We were joined by a fantastic panel of animation and film studies academics: Chris Holliday (KCL), Caroline Ruddell (Brunel) and Lilly Husbands (RCA).

The evening was inspired by Miyazaki’s Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind (1984), where real-life influences of mercury poisoning see a film based on surreal, man-made natures. Social, cultural and political events often act as the inspiration of anime films, where recurring images (such as mushroom clouds) and humanistic themes (including the dangers of and the responsibility for the natural world) are used to constantly negotiate a relationship between nature and human life. Animation becomes a comment on the ideal.

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Covering themes from deforestation to the after-effects of nuclear disaster, the cinematic and sonic qualities of the films captured the fragility of the environment and the impact humans have. Lilly spoke about how Japanese culture has often been linked to huge human-led devastation, so animation provides a way for us to see the world in a way that surpasses human capacities. The environment often becomes a living, breathing entity in anime films, taking on post-human qualities: creatures adopt personalities and become people-like, providing a unique perspective on how earthly spaces are inhabited.

The technological advances in anime productions were highlighted through the shorts, starting with Yamamura’s hand drawn films which made visible the labours of animation. The stylistic Legend of the Forest had elements of computer graphics, altering the processes of production. Chris noted how this short had similarities with the stylistic elements used in Disney, particularly Fantasia (1940). Its use of different forms of animation techniques – including chalkboard sketches – see the producers trying to give different depths and details to the forest. Technology is harnessed to provide luxurious illusions of reality.

Caroline spoke of her interests in split personalities and troubled identity in anime productions, noting how there is a theme of resilience in the films: an ability to retain identity throughout change. Metamorphosis is a continuity between all forms, providing viewers with something we can all value – Legend of the Forest followed the squirrel from its place of birth and throughout its course of life, creating an empathetic link for the audience. Using the example of the Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter series, Caroline discussed the link of forests being viewed as threatening spaces, which has roots in anthropomorphism seen in post-9/11 fantasy films. Avatar (2009) was discussed between the panel, showing a similar conflicted relationship with the environment – arguably, without human or human-like ties, we as an audience struggle to fully grasp the meanings of nature, which can be problematic.

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Following the discussion, the floor was opened to ask questions and raise their own comments:

The first comment noted the long history of drawing the natural world -particularly,the Japanese style of drawing nature on a vertical scale was discussed, as a perspective that also shows spiritual journeys. Its links with calligraphy and Buddhist art were highlighted to show the long history of visual production in Japanese culture.

Chris spoke about how Legend of the Forest showed stark comparisons with Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective (1986): both films include a scene of running in a circular motion, the former around a tree and the latter around the inner of Big Ben. The use of computer graphics in 1980’s Disney films shows use of CAPS tech, a way of digitally painting. Chris suggested that, due to the similarity in chronology, both films could have used to same technique to show the holistic movements of the 3D world.

The last comment came from a member of the audience who was Japanese, and asked the panel why anime had been chosen as a theme – in Japan, it is enjoyed for its visualisation of domestic, political messages. Now, the panel discussed how it has become a commodified form of entertainment in the West as the critical messages of industrialisation, man-nature relations and technological advancements can also relate to a more global audience. Caroline said how landmark anime films opened a gateway to instrumental fans, aided by Japanese-to-English translations. The social and political mediation and metaphors in anime films has influenced a widespread fan culture – which includes the Passengerfilms audience and panel,who came together to appreciate the genre and its lasting impact on cinema.

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UPCOMING EVENT. Dream Worlds: Dark Ecologies of Anime.

19 Jan

The first Passengerfilms event for 2017 will take place on Tuesday 31st January at The Book Club in Shoreditch, delving into the world of anime to discuss the theme of dream worlds and ecologies.

Passengerfilms and our panel invite you to join us in the uncovering of mutated ecologies, to further understand the status of reality. This event takes inspiration from the film that is noted as being the beginning of Studio Ghibli: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). In a post-apocolyptic world, Nausicaä takes on the task of helping her world, which is filled with toxic waste, overgrown fauna and war.

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The films selected and our discussion panel will build on this theme, looking at anime shorts to build on and continue the legacy of Nausicaä. The films use a recurrent and geographical theme of landscape to portray alternative worlds to our own – whether they are set in imaginations, nuclear waste grounds or spaces contaminated with beings far from our current reality. These anime films allow a different way into thinking about dark ecologies, through a more-than-human representation that  transforms the fragility of our future into an external reality that requires imagination.

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Tickets are on sale now at: http://www.biletto.co.uk/events/dream-worlds-ecologies-anime

 

Passengerfilms

Upcoming event: UNLEASHED!

16 Nov

Who let the dogs out – at Genesis cinema? For our last event of the year, PASSENGERFILMS is hosting an evening of films and discussion around the violence of domestication, animal uprising, and types of nature muzzled and unmuzzled, ruled and overruled.

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Sylwia Gawel’s Polish animation Udomowienie / Domestication (2015) shows a particular dependence between a man and the exotic reptiles he owns. In a flat cluttered with aquariums, he attentively looks after his animals, yet strictly controls their behavior – until a small caiman he brings home disturbs this harmony forever. Brad McGann’s notorious short Possum (1997) places an element of the wild within the home, with a feral girl imitating the noises of wild animals, viciously biting family members, and chained to her bed at night – until her brother sets her loose. Whilst the father, a trapper, attempts to master the land, he is unable to control his daughter, an “animal” that is disrupting the family home.

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Our feature film is White God (2014). Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, this searing political fable follows the mixed-breed dog Hagen and his 13 year old guardian Lili when, due to a harsh “mongrel” fine imposed by the Hungarian government, Hagen is abandoned and subsequently leads a canine revolt across the city against his human subjugators. From the introduction of an unruly alligator to the regulated spaces of a private animal collection, to the myths of colonization on the New Zealand frontier, to the “beastly spaces” of Budapest streets overrun by a pack of four-legged rebels (in all live-action dog acting), these films explore the many ways human mastery is unsettled – and unsettling.wg2

The films will be followed by a panel discussion in the Genesis bar with Anat Pick, Phil Howell, and Jennifer Adlem. Dr. Anat Pick is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, editor of Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (2013), and author of Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film(2011), on the more-than-human dimensions of ethics and the marking of vulnerability across species boundaries; her latest book, Maureen (2016), is a creative nonfiction that explores the commonalities between institutionalized humans and institutionalized animals. Dr. Philip Howell is Senior Lecturer in Geography at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, specializing in geographies of regulating gender and sexuality in the city, as well as the ‘animal turn’ in human geography and literary geography. He’s the author of At Home and Astray: The Domestic Dog in Victorian Britain (2015), which explores historical transformations in the role of the dog in bourgeois homes and the mean streets of London – and how dogs were increasingly policed out of public space. The historian Jennifer Adlem is completing a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, on canine psychopathology and types of madness and love in the bond between human and dog.

TUESDAY 29 NOVEMBER / DOORS 6:30PM, START 7PM/ GENESIS CINEMA, 93-95 MILE END RD, E1 4UJ / £5 TICKETS (info coming soon)

Venue information here.

Facebook event here.

 

Upcoming Event: HERITAGE FIGHT

1 Jun

Join us for an evening of film and discussion in an exploration of protest, conservation and environmental values in our screening of award-winning documentary HERITAGE FIGHT (2012).

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Directed by Eugénie Dumont, HERITAGE FIGHT follows the citizens and traditional owners (the Goolarabooloo) of lands in a small town in Australia’s last great wilderness. The film documents their daily struggle against the imminent danger of a liquified natural gas plant. HERITAGE FIGHT questions and listens. It draws on the perspectives of scientists, activists, politicians and businessmen, all determined to fight and protect what is priceless to them and all driven by a remarkable collective consciousness.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion / Q&A featuring Prof. Jenny Pickerill (Professor in Environmental Geography at University of Sheffield and author of ‘Cyberprotest: Environmental Activism Online’), Dr. Adam Barker (Geography Teaching Fellow at University of Leicester and author of forthcoming ‘Settling: Invasion, Space-Making, and the Northern Bloc of Settler Colonialism’) and Dr. Peter Kilroy (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Film Studies/ Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College, London. His current project explores the proliferation of documentary films made by, about or in collaboration with Australia’s ‘other’ Indigenous minority, Torres Strait Islanders).

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Monday 6th June / 6:30pm Doors / 7:00pm Start / The Book Club, 100 – 106 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4RH /£5 Tickets

Buy tickets here.

Venue information here. 

Facebook event here.

Upcoming Event: Feminist Geographies – Girls and the Night City

18 May

Join us for an exciting evening of film and discussion exploring gendered power within the city at night. The event questions how a hunger for freedom can be threatened by spectres of danger for women in the dark city, provoking fear and vulnerability.

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Screening short ‘J’ai Faim, J’ai Froid’ (1984) from pioneering director Chantal Akerman, the film follows two runaway girls with an insatiable appetite attempting to navigate the Parisian night streets. Followed by the intoxicating debut feature from director Ana Lily Amirpour, ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ (2014). Set against an ethereal soundtrack, a young chador-cloaked vampire skateboards through ‘Bad City’, a place that reeks of death and hopelessness, preying on its unsavoury inhabitants. The films bring to light the tense gendered space where fear meets desire, giving an ambivalent sense of women reclaiming the night.

The event will include short talks and a panel discussion involving Prof Gillian Rose (author of the acclaimed ‘Feminism & Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge’, Professor of Cultural Geography, Open University), Dr Saaed Zeydabadi-Nejad (author of ‘Politics of Iranian Cinema: Films and Society in the Islamic Republic of Iran’, Senior Teaching Fellow, Centre for Media Studies at SOAS), Dr Sarah Marie Hall (Lecturer and specialist in the intersection of feminist, economic and social geography at University of Manchester) and Sophie Mayer (author of ‘Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema’, and feminist film activist).

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Tuesday 31st May / 6:00pm / Genesis Cinema, 93-5 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ / £5 entry

Venue information can be found here.

The facebook event can be found here.