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GSFF2016 Experience 4 - Alison Piper and Stalactites

Hello TF followers - Alison here again with a belated GSFF round up.

(part 1) My blogging became a bit lax because as I learned, at a film festival there’s just not enough time in the day to see everything you want to, let alone find the time to write about it but here’s what I saw over the past two days. SATURDAY: After 9.5hrs of sleep and a good stretch of morning faffing, I began my festival day at the GFT with International 5 ‘Outside Looking In’. Again the curation was excellent - the films were very different in terms of style and genre but they all spoke in some way of ‘outsiders’ - people who exist on the periphery of social ‘norms’ through either their disabilities or their disposition. By placing these films side by side and with film being such a subjective medium, the theme of 'not quite fitting in’ spoke more strongly in each piece than it might have done if the films were viewed in a different context. My favourite was Mike Hoolboom’s ‘Scrapbook’, in which an autistic woman looks back at 16mm footage of her young self taken forty years ago in a developmental home. It was a bit too long at 18mins but I was affected by the intensity of handicapped children interacting with a camera and ‘viewing themselves’ objectively. I ended the day with the Super-Lux pitch where I watched my girl Rachel pitching for extra funding to help our new video installation for Hidden Door 2016. Sadly she didn’t win the pitch but the £400 funding went to the incredibly talented artist Adam Lewis-Jacob who has an impressive body of work under his belt and is very deserving. Live feedback from the panel was priceless and it’s great that GSFF have found a place for artist’s moving image to be part of the conversation in an events capacity as well as by championing some fantastic experimental work. SUNDAY - The documentary about a sniper who has hands-free conversations with his mother while shooting people out of a window. - The hidden-camera-in-a-handbag walk through Damascus in 2013 that shows us how a ten minute journey can range from a landscape of wealth to destruction in a few paces. - The man who films out the window of his living room over eight days as a war begins on his street. The same neighbours who build a sandbag checkpoint are part of the same team to dismantle it as the Free Syrian Army move out and ISIS move in. The Focus On Syria was devastating. I’d assumed with ignorance that nobody was making work in Syria right now but how wrong was I. My image of the country was up to that point entirely formed by news media and after watching seven short films made in Syria, by Syrians over the past five years, I don’t think I understand the situation better but I feel a more relatable empathy with the humans trying to figure out how to live their lives in a war zone. There’s a production company called BIDAAT visual arts and media who seek out and support Syrian filmmakers. BIDAAT help local people to produce creative work as an outlet to make sense of their horrible situation and although they’re not exactly ‘enjoyable’, I feel lucky to have been able to watch these films. Now, everything I’ve been working on seems insignificant compared to their efforts. Reading the credits of each film and seeing how many crew members lost their lives during the making of the films was a wake-up call to the safety I take for granted living in Scotland. It’s hard to change pace and move on from the Focus On Syria, and this blog is too long so i’ll leave it at that for now and come back tomorrow with my take on the final Scottish Screening and the awards ceremony.

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