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Ecstatic Truths Documentary Club: Embodied Landscapes

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

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Ecstatic Truths presents this first iteration of the programme Embodied Landscapes, featuring James Benning’s Landscape Suicide accompanied by Tony Hill’s short film Downside Up. These films inform each other’s perspective on landscape: Benning’s more narratively driven feature plays off the formal stylings of Hill’s blend of meditation and frenzy as the camera moves repetitively through a dizzying cycle that transcends time and space. These films both explore our place in the landscape, what it means to occupy it, and the transformation of a passive environment into something active.

Film synopses:
Landscape Suicide: This seminal work by James Benning, the experimental filmmaker who is now best known for his structuralist work documenting landscapes, explores the confessions of two murderers in the United States, who were convicted in 1984 and 1957; the first, a crime of passion by a high-schooler against her friend, and the second, a series of calculated murders by a lonesome farmer. The film casts actors who read aloud fragments of the court transcripts and recorded testimony, delving into concerns around reconstruction, forgetting, and truth.
Downside Up: Tony Hill’s short film is a dizzying meandering through a variety of landscapes and domestic interiors; his innovative camera rig setup results in a smooth experience of falling and rising as the viewer is taken on a cyclical and disorienting journey. The feel of the film was so evocative that Pulp's Jarvis Cocker cited Downside Up as the direct inspiration of the music video for “Do you Remember The First Time”.

About Ecstatic Truths:
Ecstatic Truths Documentary Club is a film programming collective curated by Charlotte Ross and Kat Haylett. Inspired by Werner Herzog’s declaration that fabrication and imagination will result in a more transcendent experience than cinema verité achieves, Ecstatic Truths seeks to showcase documentaries that reject a purely factual and normative approach, and instead explore reinvention and subversion of the conventional.

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