Wednesday 27 July – Sunday 31 July, 2011
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) have collaborated to present Dark Rooms and Dreamscapes: the Films of Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller, a program of screenings and talks by two fascinating experimental filmmakers opening Wednesday 27 July. On their visit to Australia, audiences will have the opportunity to hear from these award-winning filmmakers about redefining the filmmaking process using found footage and dark room techniques.
One of the leading figures in contemporary avant-garde cinema, Peter Tscherkassky makes films featuring a potent blend of visuals, partly informed by film theory, that work the viewer into an ethereal trance state. For over three decades, he has experimented with the technical formalities of film, from found-footage work to his masterful ‘dark room’ films.
Tscherkassky’s works will be presented in a two-part film program.
Program One comprises a stunning collection of 16mm and 35mm films including Tscherkassky’s masterful CinemaScope trilogy. The black and white trilogy begins with L’Arrivée (1997/98), a frenetic remake of the Lumière Brothers 1896 film L’Arrivee d’un train a La Ciotat using footage of Catherine Deneuve in Mayerling (1969). Second in the trilogy is Outer Space (1999), a reworking of The Entity (1982) staring Barbara Hershey and shattered into an exhilarating cinematic maelstrom in the hands of Tscherkassky. Finally, Dream Work (2001), derived from the same source material as Outer Space but this time exploring the surreal land of dreams, serves as Tscherkassky’s homage to pioneering experimental filmmaker Man Ray and won Best Experimental Short Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Program One also includes key films in Tscherkassky’s oeuvre; Freeze Frame (1983), kelimba (1986), tabula rasa (1987/89), Shot-Countershot (1987), Happy-End (1996), and Nachtstück (Mozart Minute 09) (2006).
Program Two features Coming Attractions (2010), a playful exploration of the links between early cinema, the avant-garde and advertising which was awarded Best Short Film at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival in 2010. Also a winner of multiple international film festival awards, Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (2005) takes Sergio Leone’s classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) as source material, providing Tscherkassky with a canvas on which to create a hyper-kinetic marriage of sound and vision that celebrates and deconstructs the very nature of the filmstrip. Key to this screening is Manufraktur (1985), one of the earliest of Tscherkassky’s films, crafted in his childhood dark room in just six days using footage from car tyre and women’s pantyhose advertisements. Manufraktur marked Tscherkassky’s debut using the contact copying method and awakened his interest in the ‘dark room’ process.
ProgramTwo also features Urlaubsfilm (Holiday Film) (1983), Parallel Space: Inter-View (1992) and Get Ready (1999).
During MIFF, Tscherkassky will visit Australia to introduce the film programs and present a unique masterclass. The award-winning filmmaker will analyse and explain the fascinating process behind his masterful ‘dark room’ filmmaking in an event on Sunday 31 July at ACMI, which includes a screening of Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine.
Eve Heller’s films have screened internationally at festivals and art institutions including the Anthology Film Archives, Toronto and New York Film Festivals and the Whitney Museum. Her films are lyrical, offering dreamlike glimpses into the everyday and bringing us closer to lost worlds through the reworking of found footage.
Heller will be in Australia to introduce a retrospective collection of her 16mm and 35mm films that exemplify cinema’s profound ability to catapult the viewer to a land of their own imagining.
Among the films screening are Astor Place (1997), a film that pays homage to early cinema by placing a static camera in a busy thoroughfare then asking who is watching whom, and One (1978/2009) in which Heller excavates and reworks her earliest film made as a student at the University of Buffalo, which featured Super-8 images of illuminations cast through an ornate gateway. The program also includes Last Lost (1996), Her Glacial Speed (2001), Behind This Soft Eclipse (2004), Ruby Skin (2005) and Self-Examination Remote Control (1981/2009).
In a public lecture, Reframing the Image: Found Footage Filmmaking, Heller will explore working in found footage filmmaking and the infinite possibilities for redefining the “image” through the use of hand processing and optical printing. This lecture will be held on Sunday 31 July at ACMI.
ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says this program celebrates the materiality of film itself and the possibilities for the medium through the works of two internationally renowned and distinct filmmaking artists.
“Both Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller make superbly crafted films that demand to be seen on the big screen. At a time when much discussion is devoted to the death of celluloid, it is inspiring to present a series of screenings and talks from two artists that challenge the validity of this statement.”
The visit of Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller to Australia coincides with the 60th Melbourne International Film Festival. Dark Rooms and Dreamscapes is this year’s partnership event between MIFF and ACMI.
“Peter Tscherkassky’s name will be very familiar to MIFF audiences who have come to enjoy his works over the years. Given the long history between the filmmaker and the festival we are really delighted to be able to work with our colleagues at MIFF to present a comprehensive retrospective and have the filmmaker present to discuss his films,” says Kristy.
“We are also thrilled to be showcasing the work of Eve Heller who, like Peter Tscherkassky, works with found footage and crafts films within the dark room. Eve’s films have screened extensively overseas but this program will be an exhilarating discovery for Australian audiences when her work premieres at ACMI this festival.”
Says MIFF Artistic Director Michelle Carey; “I am thrilled we are able to present a full retrospective of Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller in their presence at our 60th edition this year, in conjunction with our friends at ACMI. The first time I saw his Outer Space I was stunned by its beauty and formal violence and it is a real honour to have them here to present lectures on their cinematic practice in this context.”
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Melbourne International Film Festival presents Dark Rooms and Dreamscapes: the Films of Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller, opening Wednesday 27 July to Sunday 31 July 2011 at ACMI, Federation Square. For session information and times, please visit: www.acmi.net.au