The Swedenborg Film Festival returns in 2015 with a renewed format; showing the work of emerging artist filmmakers alongside special screenings by established international artists. The festival takes place in Swedenborg House, the archive and publishing house dedicated to a great, enigmatic and enduring thinker, Emanuel Swedenborg. This year we are pleased to announce we will be screening the work of pre-eminent artist, filmmaker, poet, and stage director, Lech Majewski, aswell as the remarkable short works of Scottish-based film artist and curator Richard Ashrowan.
Offering a unique opportunity to engage with profound cinema in the Neo-Georgian surroundings of a museum, archive and publishing house dedicated to a great, enigmatic and enduring thinker, the Swedenborg Film Festival returns in 2015 with a renewed format offering an exciting opportunity for new works by emerging artist film-makers to be shown alongside special screenings by established international artists.
The only film festival in the world inspired by the work of a single philosopher, and inaugurated in the Swedenborg Society’s bicentenary year of 2010, the SSF, with its renowned short film competition, has received a huge response from thousands of filmmakers around the world, inspired the singular legacy of the Swedish philosopher, scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), one of the key foundations of the work of the great English poet William Blake.
In recognition of this growing interest, the annual festival is relaunched in July with an expanded framework, a new competition and a fresh commitment to showing the work of international film-makers who are engaging with themes similar to those that energised Swedenborg.
The festival will also announce the open call for submissions for its 2016 competition. From 13th July to 30th November, makers internationally can enter short artists' films on an array of themes that reflect the broad range of Swedenborg’s thought and work.
"Welcoming audiences and artists alike to its listed premises in Bloomsbury, the Swedenborg Society will this year celebrate the award-winning Triptych of the great Polish director Lech Majewski, a multi-award winning film-maker, co-writer and co-producer of artist Julian Schnabel's startling feature debut Basquiat, the subject of a retrospective at MOMA New York and one of the most engaged artists of our times", said Nora Foster, co-curator of the festival and communications co-ordinator of Frieze.
"Majewski's astonishing feature film series The Garden of Earthly Delights (2006), The Mill and the Cross (2011) and Field of Dogs (2014) brings to startling cinematic life the works of Bosch, Brueghel and Dante respectively, creating allusive, associative and profoundly immersive encounters with works of undisputed genius", says Foster. "This festival will mark the first time Majewski's Triptych has been shown complete in the UK. We are delighted that Mr. Majewski himself will be present throughout."
Lech Majewski is a poet, painter, writer and director. Working in the U.S., Brazil, England, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, France and Italy, Majewski builds his visions in his paintings, films, installations, novels, theatre and opera stagings. He studied at Krakow Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from the National Film School in Łódź, Poland. His credits include such films as: The Knight, Prisoner of Rio, Gospel According to Harry, The Roe’s Room, Basquiat, Wojaczek, Angelus, The Garden of the Earthly Delights, Glass Lips, The Milll & the Cross and Onirica - Field of dogs. Presented in festivals at Toronto, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem, Moscow, Berlin, Venice and Cannes, his films received numerous prizes.
His video, film and art works have been shown in a variety of galleries and museums, including: Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Museo des Belles Artes, Buenos Aires; Image Forum, Tokyo; Tel-Aviv Museum of Art; The National Gallery, London; The Prado, Madrid; Art Institute of Chicago; The Louvre and at the Venice Biennale.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York honored him with an individual retrospective entitled "Lech Majewski: Conjuring the Moving Image". His installation Blood of a Poet/Glass Lips took part in the 52nd Venice Biennale and his Retrospective that originated at MoMA travelled to the museums around the world. His latest videoart cycle Bruegel Suite premiered at the Louvre and was exhibited at the 54th Venice Biennale. (find more on www.lechmajewski.com).
The Garden of Earthly Delights (2006) 106 mins
New York-based filmmaker Lech Majewski is no stranger to the art world—he co-wrote and co-produced Julian Schnabel's Basquiat—and his digital English-language feature Garden of Earthly Delights, adapted from his own novel Metaphysics, is a luminous, highly erotic treatise on art, love, and death. To complete her doctorate on Hieronymus Bosch, a beautiful dying woman (Claudine Spiteri) enlists her filmmaker boyfriend (Chris Nightingale) to shoot a documentary. The sumptuous details of the title painting are mirrored by his desire to record every moment of their remaining time together in Venice. (Chicago Reader)
The Mill and the Cross (2011) 92 mins
Here is a film before which words fall silent. The Mill and the Cross contains little dialogue, and that simple enough. It enters into the world of a painting, and the man who painted it. If you see no more than the opening shots, you will never forget them. It opens on a famous painting, and within the painting, a few figures move and walk. We will meet some of those people in more detail. The painting is "The Way to Calvary" (1564), by the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We might easily miss the figure of Christ among the 500 in the vast landscape... The film is an extraordinary mixture of live action, special effects, green screen work and even an actual copy of the painting itself (by Majewski himself). The compositions are painterly, the colors Bruegelian. Only three characters are named: Bruegel (Rutger Hauer); his patron Nicholas Jonghelinck (Michael York) and his mother, Mary (Charlotte Rampling), who was Bruegel's model for the Virgin Mary at two different ages. (Roger Ebert)
Field of Dogs (2014) 101mins
Drawing on Dante's Divine Comedy, Lech Majewski’s remarkable Field of Dogs is a sumptuously shot filmic exploration of loss and spiritual redemption. The film shimmers in a richly imagistic yet uncertain territory between imagination and reality. It is set in recent history, in 2010, when the Polish people lost their president Lech Kaczynski, along with many others, in a plane crash. This context of national tragedy is mirrored in the personal tragedy of loss being experienced by a former professor, who enters into a dark and hallucinatory journey, ultimately toward a rediscovery of light and meaning. Stunningly rendered visual set-pieces punctuate the film, at times referencing the great paintings upon which Majewski so often draws. His father ploughs up the floor of a supermarket with oxen, people in evening dress stand still in a lit wood at night, in a liminal vision of purgatory. Great sheets of water flood through a cathedral. Majewski is not afraid to tackle the big themes of life and death with bold visual ambition and deep commitment, bringing to film not only his own sense of humanity, but also a very personal rendering of the spirituality of the Polish psyche. (Richard Ashrowan)
Richard Ashrowan Programme:
Richard Ashrowan is a moving image artist who lives and works in the Scottish Borders. He works primarily with 16mm film and HD video, creating short single channel films, immersive video installations and live multi-projector performance experiments. His works are exhibited at artist-led spaces, galleries and film festivals around the world. He also curates experimental film and moving image works, as Creative Director of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Scotland and at Summerhall in Edinburgh. (www.ashrowan.com)
Post Lux Materia – After Light / 74 minutes plus Q&A
This programme explores Richard Ashrowan's recent work. His films are substantively concerned with landscape, luminous transformation and presence. Referring to the language and processes of alchemical transformation, his work is founded upon an investigation of landscape and a metaphysics of place. His research driven practice has included an exploration of the use of light by alchemists from the 12th to the 18th centuries, examining their experimental methodology, their diagrammatical structures and early pre-scientific philosophies of light. These historical antecedents often inform the content and structuring principals of his films, combined with a personal sense of deep presence.
Alchemist / 29m 24s / 2010 / Scotland
Exploring the transformative qualities of landscape through alchemy, featuring actions by internationally acclaimed performance artists Alastair MacLennan and Sandra Johnston, with the words of 12th century Scottish alchemist Michael Scot.
The Swedenborg Film Festival is curated by Nora Foster, formerly Assistant Curator, The Swedenborg Society and now Communications Co-ordinator, Frieze; and Gareth Evans, writer, presenter, producer (Patience: After Sebald; By Our Selves and Unseen) and Film Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
For more information or if you have any inquires please get in contact on either: +44(020)74057986 ext1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: www.swedenborg.org.uk