The Legend of Simon Lee

A lot of our friends didn't go to Rotterdam this year as they usually do, which wasn't sad for us at all because we were forced to make a relative acquaintance into a friend. Simon Lee, who I talked about earlier on the blog and who stayed near us down by the docks (pictures of area seen here) while at the fest, was in Rotterdam screening his short Where Is the Black Beast? as part of a program called Signals: Regained. The program featured a group of four highly experimental shorts which Brent & I were fully prepared not to like...having jet lag and watching experimental short films late into the night sounded like a form of French torture but, to our surprise, we ended up loving almost the entire set! Simon and his musical partner for this piece, Algis Kizys, crafted a kinetic collage of black & white found images set to an engrossing score as people recited lines from the Ted Hughes collection of poems called Crow: From The Life and Songs of the Crow, poems that I need to read before really analyzing the film and which I can't seem to find online... It was very moving and captured the glimpses of a life in a simple yet inquisitive way as the words about a crows gruff and independent life were buoyed by these moments of the lives of others. Wonderful!

Other shorts in the program included a newer one, Night Mayor, by Guy Maddin about a man creating sound and images from the charged particles of aurora borealis, Another Occupation by Ken Jacobs dealt with the nature of military existence (a piece that sparked a raging film nerd debate about how it was produced to the point someone offered to call Jacobs himself and get the inside scoop, conclusion: it appears he used a stroboscope- WOAH! I never heard of that! It is insane! I'd also never heard of Ken Jacobs and now I am kind of obsessed with seeing more of his "paracinema.") and a piece called Finding the Telepathic Cinema of Manchuria by David Blair (who we also hung out with for a bit and whose piece I am still trying to wrap my brain around- it might be about the confusion of history through media resources and the spirituality of watching film? or a meditation on the way we impart our stories to one another? not too sure...). Either way I was unprepared to have a new love affair with late-night experimental cinema...despite the fact I always imagined Gravity as a perfect midnight movie! Teehee!



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.