Short films, big impact
Top Image: Bad Brains live, courtesy of LSFF
As 2016 begins to lower its bruised eyelids, the London Short Film Festival arrives with perfect timing: before the hangover kicks in and we start to ask ‘what the fuck just happened?’ Plucking the mantra of this year’s festival from Riot Grrrl royalty Huggy Bear’s 1992 single Her Jazz – ‘this is happening without your permission’ – it’s a poignant and extremely fitting ode to today’s mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.
LSFF 2017 embraces this ideology by showcasing a diverse and challenging line-up that celebrates variety and champions rebellion. Here are some of the highlights which will help combat those January blues. Open the popcorn and dim the lights, with each film running under 20 mins, you can fill your boots
Kathleen Hanna and Jill Reiter in In ‘Search of Margo-Go’ (1994) dir. Jill Reiter
“Riot Grrrl is not a genre, and certainly not a historical genre, it is a set of tactics women can use to ignite each other.” Julia Downes
Riot Grrrl, an underground feminist punk movement which originated in the early 1990s, is celebrated in a series of short films on 14th of January. The films look to explore themes that saw women take hold of the music scene by creating films, zines and of course, practising punk. Although the movement originated in Washington state, it inspired many bands and filmmakers in the UK.
Attendees of the event will also receive a specially commissioned zine, edited by Clara Heathcock, drawing on the shared DNA behind the films on show, and the UK DIY scene in general. And then? Head straight to the ICA bar and inspect your purchase over a drink. Obviously.
Still ‘Reality’ dir. Steve Lippman
It’s hard to believe that it’s now close to a year since the untimely death of Bowie. In remembrance of the legendary figure, LSFF will screen three films on 11th January honouring Mr Stardust himself. David Bowie: Sound & Vision, is a celebratory screening spanning three decades, from Steve Lippman’s trippy film commissioned for Bowie’s 2003 album Reality to Julien Temple’s promo short for Bowie’s track Jazzin’ for Blue Jean. The show will be complemented by a Q+ A with directors Alan Yentob, Michael Armstrong and Julien Temple.
Michael Armstrong 14 min 1967
Two years before the release of Space Oddity, Bowie found himself in a typical Bowie situation: a silent mime-themed short film screened in London sex cinemas with an X rating, see it here.
Alan Yentob 53 min 1975
Ziggy Stardust was probably one of Bowie’s most famous personas, this particular era coincided with his Diamond Dogs US tour and this documentary follows him through the tour when the trappings of his meteoric success were beginning to show.
Jazzin’ for Blue Jean
Julien Temple 20 min 1984
Bowie has one three Grammy Awards so far, one of them was for this extended music video, directed by Julien Temple with the original storyline created by Bowie.
Fay Milton & Ayse Hassan of The Savages, courtesy of LSFF
This year’s LSFF will be kicking off with a bang, courtesy of Savages drummer Fay Milton and bandmate Ayse Hassan, who have teamed up with Moog Sound Lab UK to experiment with some analogue sound-scaping, synthesis and effects, alongside live drums. Combine this with some 16mm visuals by David Leister and Bea Haut to find yourself in analogue heaven.
Still ‘Time Chicken’ dir. Nick Black
Short jokes are often the best jokes, so therefore short comedies are the best comedies, right? This popular night is a sure way to rid yourself of those January blues, laughter is definitely the best medicine. Look out for Wyrdoes by Nat Luurtsema, the strangest take on Macbeth you’ll ever see. The Chop by Lewis Rose follows an unemployed Kosher butcher who decides to pretend to be Muslim to try and get work at a Halal butchers. Check out the full programme below:
Still ‘Loud Places’ dir. Mathy Tremewan and Fran Broadhurst
Providing a voice for displaced residents, artists and musicians, this series traces London’s evolving landscape. From Lambeth to Tower Hamlets and Hackney to Lewisham, gentrification is a hot topic for 2017 and worthy of exploration in these films. Look out for Loud Places by Mathy Tremewan and Fran Broadhurst, this short documentary captures former music venues that were once home to bustling beats. Another highlight is Ross Domoney’s Uprooted, investigating the current housing crisis. After the screening, you will have the opportunity to quiz the five film-makers and further discuss the issues outlined in the films.
Sill ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ dir. Tom Wilson
If your wallet is feeling exceptionally light after NYE then this event is for you, three awesome events in one. The night begins with a series of shorts that consider the marriage of sound and vision, expect to see creative music videos, fashion films and experimental work in a bite-size format. Don’t miss Branches of Life by Katerina Athanasopoulou where a sedated woman delves inside her own subconscious. Another gem is Silence by Dejan Mrkic, which explores the sensation of fragility as a young musician notices her hearing start to fade into a muted existence.
Plus The Rhythm Method will be on music duty, serenading you with their signature ‘music-to-play-pool-to’ electro-pop.
After that bombardment of senses, it’s time to look at musicians who have been making their own music videos with a documentary that looks at DIY bands throughout the decades, from Pixies to Skepta. The Rhythm Method, connoisseurs of the DIY video, will then screen their music video work and have a chat about the story behind them. To top off this packed evening The Rhythm Method will be playing an exclusive set.
Still ‘We are the Lambeth Boys’ dir. Karel Reisz
Millennials is a word we’re hearing more and more, but liking less and less. Youth culture changes rapidly from decade to decade but there seems to be an innocent aspiration that remains present throughout.
The first part of Youth Decades showcases the fifties, sixties and seventies. Teddy boys to hippies, this prosperous period saw a new generation of young people with aspirations and dreams alongside new money to realise them. The revolutions of these times shaped the modern world. Make sure you watch We are the Lambeth Boys by Karel Reisz, an insightful film exploring the lives of South London teens at work, home and leisure as they are on the cusp of adulthood.
Still ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ dir. Jeff Krulik & John Heyn
Heavy Metal Parking Lot
Jeff Krulik / John Heyn, 17 min, US 1986
Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a fantastic documentary tribute to rock and roll’s greatest fans. This underground cult classic was filmed in 1986 at a Maryland concert arena parking lot before Judas Priest hit the stage. Renowned for their raucous live shows and producing some of the most die-hard metalhead fans, this documentary shows them in an unvarnished and candid manner. Rock on!
Michael Lucid, 18 Min, Us 1996
This short documentary follows a real-life clique of aspiring riot grrls in a Los Angeles high-school. This group of 13-year-olds were regularly socially ostracised at their school by peers and upper-class men for rejecting patriarchal conventions and personal hygiene.
Simon Wheatley, 16 Min, Uk 2009
With Skepta’s recent rise – there’s even talk of erecting a statue of him in East London – it’s sometimes easy to forget about some of the original grime trailblazers such as Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle and Kano. From E3 to mainstream charts, this documentary shows shows interviews with Grime’s future talent as they were still striving for stardom while living their daily lives on the streets of London.
Bad Brains live, courtesy of LSFF
LSFF looks at black identity in punk and rock at this night of film, discussion and live music.
Bad Brains Live at CBGB’S
1982 (Richard Oretsky, 2006, 60 min)
This film is meant for one audience, an audience that wished they were there, there at the height of Bad Brains power, there under the spell of frontman H.R., there as dub-reggae effortlessly blended with heavy punk. The footage of this 1982 show at CBGBs gathered dust in a vault for quarter of a century before being brought back to life to inspire and energise a whole new generation.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion on black identity politics in music and the arts and will then culminate in a live set from Big Joanie, self-described as ‘The Ronettes filtered through 80’s DIY and riot grrrl with a sprinkling of dashikis.’ We dig.
London Short Film Festival runs from 6th January – 15th January, see the full programme here.