Short movie screening at Arthouse Cinema Niagara, Tampere 18 June 2023
This years iteration of the Backlight Photo Festival, Cruel Radiance, brings up questions on the evidentiary power of images in a world where man-made crises and conflicts have long since exceeded human proportions. The festival sheds light on the mechanisms, temporalities and sites of contemporary violence: from slow cumulative processes destroying the living conditions on Earth to traces left by wars and conflicts. To expand on these questions, the festival organises a one day side programme of screenings of video art and short films at Art House Cinema Niagara in Tampere on 18 June 2023. The screening programme showcases a timely collection of politically engaged works by a set of fascinating artists and film-makers from various countries. Bending the borderlines of video art and documentary cinema, the works comprise weighty inquiries into resource extraction, telling evidentiary accounts of violent events as well as insightful discussions on the histories and transformations in human-centred perspectives to the world.
Artists: Anika Schwarzlose & Brian D McKenna / Sanaz Sohrabi / Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis / Morgan Knibbe / María Molina Peiró / Sasha Litvintseva & Beny Wagner
UNEARTH – IN BETWEEN STATES OF MATTER Anika Schwarzlose & Brian D McKenna
Germany, Netherlands / 17’47 / 2021 / video
The film presents research into processes connected to resource extraction and the way this practice is embedded in an ecological, political and mythodological context. In Between States of Matter zooms in on material transformations and mining machines. It weaves together fragments from conversations that were recorded in the Russian Ural Mountain region.
SCENES OF EXTRACTION Sanaz Sohrabi
Canada, Iran / 43 min / 2023 / DCP with 5.1 sound
Scenes of Extraction creates an archival constellation with the still and moving images of British Petroleum Archives, documenting the expansive colonial network behind the British geophysical expeditions that spanned across Iran, but also reached other British oil operations in South East Asia. It weaves through decades of archival documents to parse out the visual history of the “Reflection Seismography” method for oil exploration which was heavily tested across the Iranian oil belt despite its destructive and probable nature. The film unpacks the relationship between the political economy of photography, archival technologies, and the visual history of resource extraction in Iran.
Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis
France / 15 min / 2020
Survivor but amnesiac of the attack at Maalbeek metro station on 22 March 2016 in Brussels, Sabine is looking for the missing image of an over-mediatised event of which she has no memory. Maalbeek is a journey into amnesic territory, in the immemorial memory of the attacks of the 22 March 2016 in Brussels. The visual concept is based on a hybrid montage of archive images and 3D animation that work in tandem on the motif of fragmentation. The animation of the film, made from real shots and then transformed by various technical processes, shows an inner landscape composed of exploded views of the metro station, as if the image of these memories had also been subjected to the physical shock of the explosion. These clouds of dots reflect the mental instability that runs through the main character’s representation, sizzling, even uncertain. These layers of reality that persist throughout the animation help to immerse the spectator in the emotional experience of amnesia.
THE ATOMIC SOLDIERS Morgan Knibbe
USA / 23 min / 2018
After more than four decades of forced silence, some of the last surviving atomic soldiers share their unfathomable experiences of the atomic bomb tests in the 1950s.
THE SASHA María Molina Peiró
Netherlands, Spain / 20 min / 2019
In 1972 the astronaut Charles Duke landed on the Moon on the Apollo XVI. He was in charge of taking photos of the lunar surface with a high-resolution camera. Questioning the veracity of photographic documentation through its narrative, The Sasha is an inquiry about the human perspective on Earth and our constant struggle with our temporal and spatial limitations. From the exploration of space to cyberspace, from an analogue Moon in 1972 to a virtual Moon in Google Earth today. A story about parallel universes where eternity seems to be lost between frames and interfaces.
CONSTANT Sasha Litvintseva & Beny Wagner
/ 40 min / 2022 / 2K DCP
Constant is a journey through the social and political histories of measurement. For most of recorded history, the human body was the measure of all things. Constant asks what led measurement to depart from the body and become a science unto itself. The film explores three shifts in the history of measurement standardization, from the land surveying that drove Early Modern European land privatization, to the French Revolution that drove the Metric Revolution, to the conceptual dematerialisation of measurement in the contemporary era of Big Science. Each chapter traces the relationship of measurement standardization to ideas of egalitarianism, agency, justice, and power. Cinematic and technical images that begin as products of measurement systems are stretched beyond their functions to describe the resistance of lived experience to symbolic abstractions.