Split Focus At The BFI

Posted January 12th, 2008 by Ben

Back at the BFI Studio down on the South Bank this coming Monday night for the first in a new bimonthly programme of retrospective shows where I get to screen the work of two directors who I think deserve closer attention and appreciation.

For sometime now I’ve been watching and screening the various shorts, animations, features, music videos, documentaries and oddities made by members of the world wide Shooting People community and not only have certain people clearly stood out from the crowd but I’ve also found it frustrating to constantly be putting together programmes based only on individual films. Over the years I’ve been able to really enjoy watching talented people improve and explore new areas in their work and this new programme of screenings enables me to share that enjoyment with, well, anyone who can get down to the BFI for six o’clock monday night…

First off I want to focus on Jo Tidbury and Carlo Ortu, two very different filmmakers who have both constantly provided me with gems in my mailbag.

Jo Tidbury, formly Jo Barnes, made the cut for the first Mobile Cinema tour with her film “Between The City And The Sea” which is still one of my favourite short films of all time. Her work is quite experimental by most standards and walks a fine line between cinema and photographic art. Her approach is always expressionistic, her films are often free from dialogue or completely silent and at least two of the films I’m showing on Monday consist of nothing but a montage of still images. However unlike a lot of the less mainstream work I see, Jo’s films always have an innate sense of narrative which, for my money, keeps them firmly as pieces of cinema.

Her films are spare, beguiling, beautiful and dreamlike. At her best she exhibits a photographer’s skill in telling a whole story in just a single image. She tells stories of young women trapped in society, trapped in relationships, trapped in their own bodies but she does so with an honesty, a passion and a simple grace that makes them feel fresh every time I watch them.

Hopefully she is busy uploading her work to the Shooting People hub as I type this… but if you can’t make it on monday you may be able to see some of her work on her website www.violentviolet.co.uk/index.html

Carlo Ortu is the filmmaker who really prompted me to start thinking about this new series of screenings in the first place. Working with very little backing or resource he has persisted in making delightful, heartbreaking, angry and funny films and as you’ll see his body of work shows a unique voice that demands more support. He works with a small regular group of collaborators, mainly on DV, writing, producing, directing, shooting and editing his own films… he is, in many ways, the archetypal Shooter. He is precisely the sort of filmmaker who has been empowered by digital technology and the online resources that are increasingly opening up a wealth of new opportunities for film, as you will see if you click here and type Carlo into the search engine…

However what marks him out from the crowd of other DV-powered Guerrilla filmmakers is that, unlike so many, he has a real sense of cinema. His films are all deceptively simple but draw their power from great performances, a central angry passion and an ability to hook you in just at the point where other filmmakers would lose you. His films twist, but are never about twists. His films are funny, but are never simply jokes. He is obsessed with cameras and the way people respond to them, the way people turn to them to justify their actions and he is a fantastic chronicler of the lives of men one step out of sync with the rest of the world.

As I say, you can find some of his best films on the Shooting People Watch Films site and more films on his website sugarspunpictures.com

Both Carlo and Jo will be in attendance on Monday so please do come down and meet two of my favourite filmmakers of the 21st Century.

  1. Fari B

    So, how was it and what was the wider response?

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