Borderline Ballroom

BB #15: experimental film programme WE CAN NOT EXIST IN THIS WORLD ALONE

exp-filmWednesday, July 30, 2008
7:30pm until 9:30pm

The Borderline Ballroom presents:


a selection of 16mm experimental artist films by Ben Rivers (UK) and Ben Russell (US)

Separated for a lifetime of lifetimes by that vast dark body of Atlantic water, siblings-in-cinema Rivers and Russell have arrived on Austral-Pacific shores to spread their message of A Present Regained. Marching beneath the already-tattered banner of a New Modernism, the brothers Ben offer a glimpse of a somehow-brighter-tomorrow via the (16mm) lens of today. Drawn from the historic traditions of ethnography, documentary, and portraiture and operating under the guise of experimental cinema, the works in this program offer a prescription for weathering alone the gathering storm of global capitalism. From the sci-fi landscapes of Dubai to the frozen tundra of the Scottish highlands to the jungle wilds of Suriname; from the hermit clans of the British Isles to the noise-show enthusiasts of Rhode Island to the stand-up comedians of the Bardo Plane; these 10 films sketch a complex post-modern postmortem of a world in increasingly hopeful disarray.

Weds 30th July

Presented in person by the filmmakers at Neibelheim, basement space under SoFA Gallery in the South Quad of The Arts Centre, as part of their Australasian tour.

Ben & Ben’s Christchurch, NZ appearance has been facilitated in association with The Canterbury Film Society, University of Canterbury dept. of Theatre & Film Studies, and Static Mansion.



“His films play as fragments of stories, like the crumbly bits of dreams that cling to waking consciousness.” – Ed Halter, The Village Voice

Born 1972. Studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art. Co-founded and programmed Brighton Cinematheque from 1996-2006. He has exhibited at many international film festivals and galleries, winning various awards, including Tiger Award, IFF Rotterdam 2008. He has been the recipient of a number of commissions, most recently a London Artist’s Film and Video Award, for which he is completing two new works. Upcoming shows include solo show with Measure, London; ‘If’ Bloomberg Space, London; ‘Art With Strangers’ Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, and festival retrospective screenings in Ghent (Courtisane), Hull IFF and Hong Kong IFF.


Born 1976. Studied Art/Semiotics at Brown University and Film/Video/New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. An itinerant photographer, curator, and experimental film/videomaker his works have screened in spaces ranging from 14th Century Belgian monasteries to 17th Century East India Trading Co. buildings, police station basements to outdoor punk squats, Japanese cinematheques to Parisian storefronts, and the Sundance Film Festival to the Museum of Modern Art (solo). He has made films about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the exploration of Easter Island, the divining powers of Richard Pryor, and the end of the world. A Guggenheim award recipient, he began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois, USA.


screening programme:

We The People
Ben Rivers, UK 2004, 1 min

Black and White Trypps Number Four
Ben Russell, USA 2008, 11 mins

Using a 35mm strip of motion picture slug featuring the recently deceased American comedian Richard Pryor, this extended Rorschach assault on the eyes moves out of a flickering chaos created by incompatible film gauges into a punchline involving historically incompatible racial stereotypes.

The Coming Race
Ben Rivers, UK 2006, 5 mins

Black and White Trypps Number Three
Ben Russell, USA 2007, 12 mins

“…a filmic portrait of secular rapture that harks back to the great annunciation canvases of Titian and Caravaggio.”
– Michael Sicinski, Green-Cine

Shot during a performance by Rhode Island noise band Lightning Bolt, this film documents the transformation of a rock audience’s collective freak-out into a trance ritual of the highest spiritual order.

This Is My Land
Ben Rivers, UK 2006, 14 mins

Workers Leaving the Factory (Dubai)
Ben Russell, USA 2008, 8 mins

Dove Coup
Ben Rivers, UK 2007, 2 mins

Ben Russell, USA 2000, 7 mins

“One of the strangest films I have ever seen; its characters come and go as if they’re ‘primitives’ posing for the camera, either obeying or fighting an ethnographer’s controlling eye.”
– Fred Camper, Chicago Reader

Ah, Liberty!
Ben Rivers, UK 2008, 20 mins

“… in this rural, ethnographic portrait the artist unravels a thousand tones of each. How long does it take until this overflowing bath becomes a lake, until the simple forest drive (there is nothing simple here) transforms these children into airborne angels of light? There is a tender brutality at work here, nothing is polished or smooth or well rounded, instead the adventure of seeing is undertaken ready to fall and bruise, to be wounded by its search.”
– Jury Statement, International Film Festival Rotterdam

A celebratory portrait of a family’s place in the wilderness – living, working, playing on a farm throughout the seasons; free-range animals and children, junk and nature, all within the most sublime landscape. The work aims at a sense of freedom, the scale of which is reflected in the hand-processed Cinemascope format, and focuses on the youngest of the family to show us what’s what. There’s no particular story; beginning, middle or end, just fragments of lives lived.

Trypps #5 (Dubai)
Ben Russell, USA 2008, 3 mins

All films are 16mm
Note: these films use strobe effects

this event is one of a forthcoming series of Borderline Ballroom collaborative events which utilise a variety of venues in the city to present international and local experimental music and related media in Christchurch, NZ