SCREENING: 02 November 2019 at 16:45
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Dir. Gina Birch, 2019, UK, 90 min
WORLD PREMIERE + Q&A featuring Gina Birch and hosted by writer Lucy O’Brien
Musician and painter, filmmaker and music video director, Raincoat and restless punk rock feminist: Gina Birch and her work across a range of media will be profiled in a three-part evening of film, conversation, and live performance. Ever since her days at Hornsey College of Art at the dawn of the punk era, says Birch, “music, film, and video have been the major creative forces in my life”. Gina Birch: Cracked Open offers an unparalleled look at how these three strands run through the multifaceted career of an icon and innovator.
The evening begins with “On film”, which features the experimental shorts “Feminist” (1977-2010) , “In Love” (1978-2018), “Joanna” (1979-80) and “Jenny” (1991), followed by a conversation between Birch and journalist and academic Lucy O’Brien. If there is a common thread in these films, says Birch, it is that they reflect “the situations I found myself in as a young woman newly arrived in London: lonely, scared, adventurous, and with a what-the-hell attitude. This gives each film a sense of struggle and dynamism. Derek Jarman’s Super 8 films had a huge impact on me – the color, the smudgy light, the movement – as did the experimental cinema of Agnes Varda.”
“On music” presents highlights of Birch’s acclaimed work as a music video director, including The Raincoats’ “Fairytale in the Supermarket” (1995), The Libertines’ “Time for Heroes” (2003), Palma Violets’ “Last of the Summer Wine” (2013) and New Order’s “1963” (1995, featuring Jane Horrocks). “I have lucky to make many first videos for bands,” observes Birch. “Geoff Travis trusted me to work with groups such as Daisy Chainsaw, The Libertines, and Palma Violets. I worked closely with each to find their interests, using keywords or themes. I try to push myself each time to make something visually stimulating, with a touch of anarchy and humor, and bring out the character of the group.”
She adds, “The first part of the ‘On music’ section is a part of a personal documentary film I am making about my experience of being in The Raincoats, and includes footage from Super 8 film, taken when touring and playing with The Raincoats, interspersed with postcards I sent to my family describing what I saw: the hotel rooms, the fans, the cities.”
“On art” includes the world premiere of Birch’s short film “Paintings”, she Birch calls “a tremendous journey for me; I am very excited by it”. It documents the process of “falling in love with paint… the brush strokes, the textures, the possibilities” and Birch’s exploration of the themes of agency and the body, “the complexities of female sexuality”, sexual violence, and the often problematic representation of women in high art. Soundtracked by excerpts from Miranda July’s short story “The Metal Bowl”, and a music track by Birch, it features a series of Birch’s life-sized “big women”: unexpectedly vengeful life models who “come at the viewer, kicking, swearing, threatening, even bleeding”. The evening concludes with a short live acoustic performance in front of films made for this purpose.
Doc’n Roll is supported by the BFI Audience Fund using money from the National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.
Doc’n Roll Film Festival is supported by the BFI using funds from the National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.