TIFF 2018. WAVELENGTHS: A RETURN BY JAMES EDMOND, TREES DOWN HERE BY BEN RIVERS

This entry was posted on September 13th, 2018

A Return (James Edmond, 2018)

By Alonso Castro

Cinema and poetry can be bonded strongly, but such association doesn’t occur gratuitously, and one can’t expect it to happen out of the blue. The cinematographic language has the potential to explore narrative and aesthetically, achieving a harmony between what’s been represented and the representations through symbols or concrete facts.

In the case of English filmmaker (currently residing in Berlin) James Edmond’s A return (2018), the link between cinema and poetry is more than explicit. There’s a harmony in the composition between cut and cut that happens, in most part, because of its narrative fluidity. The movement of the film is established only through the composition of each frame, of each situation portrayed, by the camera of the filmmaker, acquiring different textures from the texture of color 16mm film, and lightning tonalities.

In A return, there’s a vivid reconstruction through fragmented situations of quotidian life moments symbolized in images that flow in constant transposition. Edmund’s film acquires an aura of intimacy in different environments of his life in Germany and England. Each situation is represented with austerity in the amount of shot objects; however, visual elements like color and light are the ones who conduct the composition of the image in each scenario, represented through pictorial frames.

Thus, Edmond films acquire a form of poetry through the use of cinematographic resources –such as lighting, colors or movement- to compose the situational frames, in low, subtle key, of the scenes of his everydayness in rural and urban spaces of Germany and England. The poetic potential of cinema is exploited in A return, focusing the gaze in those insignificant fleeting moments of quotidian life.

Trees down here (Ben Rivers, 2018)

Cowan Court is an area of residence for students at Churchill College, founded in the early 1960s. The university building was built under the precepts of brutalism, an architectural movement surged after WWII.

Half a century after, architectural group got in charge of remodeling the concrete structure of the building, transforming it in a space mostly covered in wood. With this design, a sustainable, accessible environment and landscape is generated, integrating the private and public spaces of the building with the surrounding environment. According to the group of architects, this looks to promote the integration of the private and the public inside the community of resident students.

The transformation of Cowan Court’s building is portrayed in Trees down here (2018) by Ben Rivers. The roads in which people transit are shown, the new wood shell, the windows which connect the rooms with the exterior, and the external fields of the building. One can also appreciate the new interior garden, where a cedar and elm tree are located, trees which survived the process of redesign and reconstruction of the installations of that particular area in Churchill College. Likewise, one can appreciate snakes and owls interacting –or meddling- in the students’ rooms.

In parallel, old schematics of the old concrete building and images of the demolished building before the reconstruction are shown in black and white, symbolizing the passing of time of the construction and its surroundings. In this recount of the past of the Court, images of the space in different seasonal moments are rescued.

Ben Rivers’ proposal focuses in the temporal contrasts of the building materiality and nature inside the space of Cowan Court. In this temporal parallelism, the trees anchor the represented time and work as a bridge to understand the passing of time. Because of that, they are presented in different stations, where different particular characteristics of each seasonal change are shown: from the in black and white scenario where the leaves dwell, to the new one where they are shown green and leafy, illuminated by the sun rays. In Trees down here, Ben Rivers connects both environments, the one of nature with the human one, to reflect about the passing of time and the position that the natural and the human acquires in each particular historic position.

Wavelengths4: We’ve Only Just Begun
A Return
Director: James Edmonds
Alemania
2018

Wavelengths 2: Another Brick in the Wall
Trees Down Here
Director: Ben Rivers
Producers: Tom Emerson, Efe Çakarel
Reino Unido