42nd International Film Festival Rotterdam – A Preview Of Their Regained Programme

This year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) Signals: Regained programme is dedicated to the memory of film from a particular and contemporary viewpoint. Besides topical new documentaries this year’s Regained programme comprises a rich menu of innovative works using cinema’s history as a main ingredient. For performances and introductions within Regained, IFFR welcomes among others avant-garde maestros Michael Snow and Tony Conrad, and Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi.

A treasure within Regained’s treasure chest is Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man, a documentary about the embodied memory of Indian film historian P. K. Nair. Regained also salutes three of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers that sadly passed away last year: British filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin (IFFR filmmaker in focus in 2006), French filmmaker Marcel Hanoun and Japanese visual artist Stom Sogo. Each of them followed a very singular, intimately personal trajectory against the grain of the film industry. Just brought over from Japan, some of Sogo’s Super8 films will be shown publicly for the first time.

A surprising discovery comes from Cary Kehayan, who will introduce the private, colourful world of Avery Willard, New York gay pioneer from the sixties. At the other end of Regained’s broad spectrum are the new works by Philip Solomon (a reprise of Warhol’s Empire, solely made up of computer game imagery) and Jason Simon’s exhibition Festschrift for an Archive, a project on the closure of MoMA’s Film Still Archive in New York.

Regained will be devoting particular attention to two seminal figures of the avant-garde cinema, both still prominently present in the contemporary art scene. Tony Conrad has recently restored and re-edited a whole series of video works, a colourful collection of unseen recordings from 1972 till 2003. The selection he compiled for the occasion is appropriately titled Bouncing off the Walls and illustrates many aspects and kinships in his long career. Conrad is also presenting a performative hommage to underground filmmmaker Jack Smith, including an audio preview of his upcoming vinyl release with historical recordings from the sixties, The Endless Tedium of Capitalism. Conrad was the creator of the original music for Smith’s notorious film Flaming Creatures (1962).

The celebrated Canadian multimedia artist Michael Snow personally brings a series of very rarely seen works to the festival. Single Frame Snow consists of two works for slide projector and one film, all dealing with the theatrical presentation of still images. Within the framework of the Signal programme Sound Stages, Snow also brings along his classic film La region centrale (Canada, 1971) and two works that elucidate on his career as a musician: his own video-work Reverberlin (Canada, 2006) and the brand new short documentary Snow in Vienna by Laurie Kwasnik (Canada/Austria, 2012).

In collaboration with EYE Amsterdam a series of recently restored animation films are brought back from anonymity. Working in the tradition of Oskar Fischinger and his abstracted visual music, Maarten Visser was too much burdened by his own modesty to present his wonderful animated mosaics to a wider audience. Every day during the festival period, Maarten visser: piece by piece can be seen on the video wall in the entrance hall of festival location Rotterdamse Schouwburg, accompanied by live music improvisations.

International Film Festival Rotterdam, 23 January until 3 February, Karel Doormanstraat 278b, 3012 GP Rotterdam, The Netherlands. www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com

1. Film stills courtesy of International Film Festival Rotterdam.