A History of 1970s Experimental Film: Britain's Decade of Diversity

A History of 1970s Experimental Film: Britain's Decade of Diversity

Patti Gaal-Holmes

Language: English

Pages: 250


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This comprehensive historical account demonstrates the rich diversity in 1970s British experimental filmmaking, acting as a form of reclamation for films and filmmakers marginalized within established histories. An indispensable book for practitioners, historians and critics alike, it provides new interpretations of this rich and diverse history.


List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
1 Questions of History
Historiography and history through curation
Accessibility to films
Whose history do we need?
'Which History?'
The 'return to image' thesis
Concluding thoughts
2 Institutional Frameworks and Organisational Strategies
Film workshops
Audience engagement
Independent Film-Maker's Association (IFA)
The Arts Council Great Britain (ACGB) and the British Film Institute (BFI)
The Attenborough Enquiry
Group funding and other alternatives
1970s screenings
Concluding thoughts
3 Experimental Film and Other Visual Arts
Conceptualism, modernism and approaches to filmmaking
'Black box' or 'white cube' and anti- commodification
Expanded cinema
Film experimentation
Jarman's painting, romanticism and 'sensuous' film
Colour Field painting and Cubism
Optical painting/optical film
Film and photography
Drawing on film
Land Art and landscape in film
Sculpting space
'No-film' film
Concluding thoughts
4 Visionary, Mythopoeia and Diary Films
Contexts for filmmaking
New considerations for 1970s British films
Psycho-dramatic trance, lyrical and mythopoeia in British films
Fire in the Water (1977)
Vibration (1975) and Anti-Clock (1979)
The Other Side of the Underneath (1972) and Central Bazaar (1976)
'Psycho-dramatic trance'
Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) and Rayday Film (1968–70 and 1976)
Lucifer Rising ( 1970–1981), In the Shadow of the Sun ( 1974–81) and The Art of Mirrors (1973)
British 'diary' films
Ian Breakwell
B. S. Johnson
Margaret Tait
Anne Rees-Mogg
David Larcher
Concluding thoughts
5 Experiments with Structure and Material
International exchanges
Theoretical perspectives for filmmaking: Sitney, Le Grice and Gidal
Distinctively British experimentation and the LFMC
Consolidating structural and material filmmaking: Le Grice and Gidal
Film experimentation
Film materiality
The objective and/or subjective ' camera-eye': Gidal and Brakhage
Anticipation through image construction
Humour, play and sound/image
Sound as narrative formation
Critiques of the formal ideological position
Concluding thoughts
6 Women and Film
Political and theoretical frameworks for filmmaking
Questions of a feminine aesthetic
Diversity in women's filmmaking
The domestic
The gendered film text
A feminine aesthetic of ephemerality
History, language and ideology
Concluding thoughts
Conclusion: (Re)cognitions and (Re)considerations for This History

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Film Trilogies: New Critical Approaches




















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such as Curtis and Wilson early on in the decade was therefore vital as they advocated tirelessly for funding without enforcing clear scripted intentions. Curtis pointed out that ‘periodically the committee agonised about the folly of expecting artists to be able to fix their ideas on paper before lifting the camera’.44 Yet, admittedly this was public money being requested and there needed to be some idea of its intended use. This was a dilemma for filmmakers as they needed the (financial)

‘alarmed by the extent to which the Arts Council was stretching the definition of “arts documentary”’, and disputes eventually led to government intervention in order to clarify terms: 47 With little or no money available, there were inevitable arguments about where the borderline fell between artists’ works (clearly an Arts Council responsibility) and innovative or experimental film and video works (arguably still the responsibility of the BFI). These boundary disputes may be thought of little

rhythmic sound is heard complementing the whirling and spinning spirals, ensuring continued absorption not unlike the cyclical score (by Brian Eno) and build-up of image in Le Grice’s poetic (and much referenced for good reason) Berlin Horse (1970), with repetition in both films creating a more lively sense of engagement than some of the more austere structural films seeking to negate the image. Both films begin monochromatically with colour gradually added, the use of negative and positive

photographic work 10 Months (1977–79). The camera in both films captures very subtle movements, with the common ‘action’ being the slight rise and fall of breath as the abdomen moves. In Kelly’s film, further action in the form of hands occasionally stroking the abdomen takes place. While both are filmed from fixed camera positions, tightly framed on the pregnant torsos, the body in Antepartum is Kelly’s own, while Breathing is of Sherwin’s partner’s pregnant form. In Kelly’s film the camera is

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