Jonas Mekas, regarded as the godfather of the American Avant-Garde, and José Luis Guerín, an accomplished documentary and narrative filmmaker, embark upon a series of film correspondence as part of an ongoing project funded by Barcelona’s Centre of Contemporary Culture. Though commissioned rather than ‘found’, the correspondence between the two is clearly the result of genuine friendship and a very earnest passion for visual representations of the moments and thoughts that construct life.

 

The two styles are almost polar opposites and as such compliment one another by creating an almost natural wave-like ebbing to and fro – Guerín’s videos to Mekas in black and white, perceiving the cities, people and spaces with the eye of an auteur expressing a reflective world view, filming never ‘taping’, whilst Mekas’ videos to Guerin are like home videos up from the underground blending the public and the personal with innocent ease. From revolving doors with stunning reflections in Guerín’s examination of the people he records and their supposed inability to put down roots in expansive public spaces to Mekas’ following an unaware Ken Jacobs down the street and occasionally filming his own feet in the wake of stopping to speak and smell lavendar – Correspondence is paced naturally with an intuitive rhythm that carries the viewer safely between a personal conversation and filmic endeavour from beginning to end.

The natural passing of time through recording of seasons gives the film its temporal structure effortlessly as our narrators release their perspectives on the world through honest nuggets; “I react to life”, and gentle reassurances that we are not intruding on their personal diaries; “It’s only part of a game”. An experience akin to being a very welcome guest in someone else’s home, Correspondence is a citric delight in a varied feast of a festival.

Correspondence Jonas Mekas – JL Guerin screens as a part of the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival with another session on Saturday August 18th at 11am. 

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We Were There

February 26, 2010

Last night we here at Liminal Vision had the pleasure of attending an underground screening of Spike Jonze’s new short film, I’m Here (2010). A collaboration between Jonze and Absolut Vodka, I’m Here is a remarkable film, screened and distributed in an equally remarkable fashion. Rather than run the festival circuit or situate itself amongst a compilation of short films, I’m Here is currently playing a few free underground UK screening events (organised by Absolut and We Are Social) and will be more widely released online in March. So why is it free to see the newest and most beautiful work of such an acclaimed director as Spike Jonze (especially off the back of his brilliant recent feature release Where the Wild Things Are)?

First and foremost I’m Here is not just a film to be seen, it is an embodied experience and as such a work of art capable and intent upon being felt beyond the parameters of a screen. I’m Here is simultaneously a simple and complex contemporary love story. Sheldon is a robot in a world where humans and robots co-exist. His menial existence, working and recharging ad infinitum, is one day altered by Anne, a female robot who literally and metaphorically jolts him into a state of consciousness. Sheldon is hesitant and frightened at first, but once he understands that no one can tell you you’re not allowed to dream, he opens his heart and imagination to the possibility of love and connection. Sheldon learns to give of himself so that he might find a complete, embodied connection to another person. The robotic metaphor is gentle and sweet in its execution resulting in the soft fimic tonality Jonze is renowned for.

I’m Here is a film made with equal measures of hope and eloquence. It’s accessibility is a mark of its own moral project reaching beyond the confines of technical, prescribed boundaries. Extending beyond the screen, the team at Absolut clearly put great effort into creating an appropriate atmosphere for the screening itself. Greeted with a washer that was immediately exchanged for drink tokens, we headed to the bar to sample an Absolut Peppar Bloody Mary and an Absolut Citron Tonic Twist. Having grabbed our drinks we explored the underground NCP carpark which had been converted into a bar, complete with dj, sound system, fluroescent lights and cinema screen, we took our seats… In front of the screen were a number of cardboard boxes, their contents mysteriously plugged in to power points leading beneath the astro-turf-like-surface we thought we were to sit on. Just minutes before the screening began the contents of the boxes came alive and some thirty inflatable matresses sprang forth for our viewing comfort. Surrounded by the occasional car door and some nifty looking techno-ruins a suitable atmosphere was created for the film’s debut.

If you missed the event itself then make sure you catch the film online. Whether it’s in an underground car park or the comfort  of your own home, Jonze’s beautiful depiction of the human condition is unmistakably here.