Jonas Mekas in Paris

Re:Voir Film Gallery, Paris
Re:Voir 43 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris

Sat reading Jonas Mekas’ A Dance With Fred Astaire in the garden sun. I open randomly on his account of a visit to Paris in 1964 following the controversy surrounding the banned screening of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures at the International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium. I love the image of Jonas Mekas in Paris with his wind-up 16mm Bolex and so went searching for any of his Paris films.

For some time I had been thinking about doing something with my Paris footage, of which I have many many hours… I spent some three months going through my Paris footage and I managed to reduce it to the length you will be seeing, two hours and 39 minutes. It was very very hard to do so. I have so many friends in Paris, so many memories — and it’s all on video.
So this is my love letter to Paris. To its streets, to the river Seine, to its cafes, bistros, bars, to the jambon de Paris, and, especially, to all of you, my Paris friends!
This movie is also my tribute to the memory of the Paris of Gertrude Stein and Hemingway. And a tribute to all the poets and philosophers of Paris who made me fall in love with this city. I love you, Paris!

– Jonas Mekas announcing the premiere of My Paris Movie in 2011

Unfortunately, My Paris Movie (2011) doesn’t appear to be available to view online. However, I noticed that it’s distributed by the essential experimental film label Re:Voir. I stumbled upon on the Re:Voir Film Gallery in Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin on a recent visit to Paris with Heidi. We were taking our final stroll before heading back to Gare du Nord for the train back to London.

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin
Passage Jouffroy, Paris
Heidi in Passage Jouffroy

It feels like there are potent signs that I need to head back to Paris for a visit to Re:Voir when it’s actually open and I’m not bound for the Eurostar.

Watch – A Wander through Paris (2022)

John Smith and the Leytonstone Road Protests in NLR

M11 Link Road, Leytonstone

There’s an excellent blog on the New Left Review website by David Anderson about the films of Leytonstone artist John Smith and the M11 Link Road protests of the early 90s.

“The Link Road protest nevertheless attracted a broad church of supporters, engaging them in a project that, as the Aufheben group put it, aimed not just to stop ‘this one road’ but to create ‘a climate of autonomy, disobedience and resistance’. This included not only local residents and veterans of other road protests, but also a substantial number of artists living in and around Claremont Road. Their presence contributed to a year-long ‘festival’. Throughout 1994, the street was blocked to cars and turned into a public outdoor living room, just as protesters were busy burrowing underneath the houses’ actual living rooms, constructing a fortress that would be difficult for police and bailiffs to dismantle …

The result was, according to McCreery, a space with ‘no formal social organization’ in which ‘every moment of every day amounted to a political act’. Even if he doubts how much ‘radical French theory’ the protesters were actually reading, their activities ‘probably amounted to the most complete expression of situationist techniques ever seen in Britain’.”

https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/kill-the-spiders

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema returns at Good Shepherd Studios

Good Shepherd Studios Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema
photo by Jake Green

Great night on Wednesday as Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema returned with a screening of What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? at the wonderful Good Shepherd Studios. Paul Kelly’s brilliant film was in the first programme that I put together for a film night at the Leytonstone Festival in 2007 at the Heathcote Arms alongside shorts by Ian Bourn and John Smith. This led to the launch of Leytonstone Film Club in 2008 (name changed to Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema). Wednesday’s screening was the first of a regular programme of films at Good Shepherd Studios.

What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema, Good Shepherd Studios
photo by Jake Green

It was a reminder of just how important a film Mervyn Day actually is. Shot in the Lower Lea Valley around Stratford, Bow, Hackney Wick and Canning Town in the summer of 2005, and set on the day the successful bid for the London Olympics was made, it captures a crucial moment in time in the history of London. I attended a screening at the Barbican when we first moved to Leytonstone in 2006 and wrote about the landscape of the film when I went in search of locations.

Paul Kelly and John Rogers, Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema, Good Shepherd Studios 12th April 2023. Photo by Jake Green
photo by Jake Green
photo by Timothy Fox

In the Q&A with Director Paul Kelly, we discussed his collaboration with the pop band St Etienne on this and other films and how they came to make a film about a part of London where few people outside the area ventured. I also asked Paul what the narrative of the film would have been had the Olympic bid been unsuccessful. That’s an interesting alternative history of London.

Paul Kelly and John Rogers - photo by Jake Green. Good Shepherd Studios Leytonstone 12th April 2023
Paul Kelly and John Rogers – photo by Jake Green

After a break of a few months, it was great to be back with Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema. Thanks so much to Jake Green for giving us a new home at Good Shepherd and it was wonderful to see Stow Film Lounge running the projection. Also thanks to Jake for these fantastic photos.

What this space for the date of our next screening in May.

The American Friend – Wim Wenders (1977)

The American Friend Wim Wenders

Recently renewing my Mubi subscription, I’m trying to watch more films rather than clicking between YouTube videos. Wim Wenders’ The American Friend was the first film of this new era of attention expansion. It’s a great film and I couldn’t help but grab my phone to capture the incredible art direction. The colours, the use of the picture frames, the sky, the beach and the orange VW Beetle, Dennis Hopper, Bruno Gantz, and Lisa Kreuzer, the Hamburg Docks. Perfection.

The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders

Documentary story

Los Angeles

It started in the legendary Roxy rock venue on Sunset Strip Los Angeles as any half-decent story about a film gone wrong should. I was stood on the stage filming Russell Brand’s post gig meet and greet after having recorded the show. A young lady bypassed the clamouring throng around Russell – who’d also finished the show by performing a couple of songs that were filmed for his part of Aldous Snow in the Judd Apatow movie Get Him To The Greek. The lady calmly asked me what camera I was using. Ewan MGregor had just asked to borrow my Sharpie. He was sat on a table with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. Morrissey was in the audience of 200 as was Courtney Love. Reading this 14 years later in Leytonstone I’m aware of how nuts this all sounds.

An enquiry about camera equipment seemed oddly out of place. I stopped filming the activity around Russell, which I’d filmed a hundred times before all over the place, and showed her my Sony A1. She then told me she was a Producer working with Oliver Stone and Albert Maysles and they were interested in working with Russell. And that was how it began in May 2008 at the Roxy on Sunset Strip.

to be continued…

Quote from San Soleil by Chris Marker

There are so many striking poignant lines in Chris Marker’s masterful essay film, San Soleil, that I’ve resorted to reading a transcript found online. But this particular riff stuck out:

“I’m writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility.

Legends are born out of the need to decipher the indecipherable. Memories must make do with their delirium, with their drift. A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector.”

then..

“I think of a world where each memory could create its own legend.”