Emerging from years in isolation to an enraptured crowd, a time-travelling, transgender musical genius finally finds his place in the world. Inspiring documentary about the musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland screening soon at the Barbican in London.
Our artistic urges are formed out of a particular time and place; that which shows up as available at the time. Like all other art-forms, film does not appear in a vacuum but always emerges out of a particular context of people, power and technology. An awareness of the context informs an understanding of the medium in its totality, and how it operates under the present conditions of modern life. Film is never just 24 framed images a second.
And so to a project about the medium and its place in a particular world. An informative and highly entertaining examination of pre-revolution film culture in Iran, Ehsan Khoshbakht’s Filmfarsi  is as much for fans of world cinema as it is for scholars of Iranian film history. Constructed in the style of an essay film, Filmfarsi is a colourful mosaic of forgotten films, scratchy archive footage and voice-over, all set to an electrifying soundtrack of romantic film scores and psychedelic acid rock. An important historical period that urgently needs wider recognition.
Naptha screens this month at Cannes Film Festival as part of the the festival’s Critics Week section.
Faraz’s quiet life working at an isolated petrol station is turned upside down when his ageing father, Malik, begins to speak in a long-forgotten language and insists on returning back home. More information here.
Director: Moin Hussain
Supervising Sound Editor: Rob Szeliga
Dialogue Editor: John Cohen
Composer: Tim Morrish
Balcony  was a short fiction film I worked on soon after finishing film school. It went on to win the Berlin Crystal Bear prize the following year and enjoyed a long and fruitful life on the festival circuit. To date it’s the most successful piece I’ve worked on. It’s now online as Vimeo’s Staff Pick Premiere for this week.
More information here.
Short film trailers and recent online content:
Lost But Not Forgotten  - Director: Stuart Hacksaw • Sound Design: Rob Szeliga
In the summer of 1930, after thousands of years of habitation, the St Kildans made the difficult decision to abandon their remote island home in the North Atlantic Ocean, and adjust to life on the mainland. The modern world had made its presence known, and severed a tie to an ancient way of life, bringing an end to an incredible story of survival.
The Time Tree  - Director Celine Cotran • Sound Design: John Cohen and Rob Szeliga
Based on the children’s novel by the best-selling author Enid Richemont, The Time Tree is a story that combines coming-of-age with magical realism. 1596. Anne, a deaf girl, bullied by the maids and mistresses who look after her, finds solace when she comes across a magical tree: a portal to the present, where she meets Jo and Rachel, who help her overcome her disability in a way she could never have imagined.
My relationship with sculpture has to be adverturous. Almost on the edge of being beyond my control….I like to use chance to allow accidents and mistakes to become part of what I’m doing…I like the idea of work being very impractical and very illogical, and not a nice tidy thing that comes out of a box. [Phyllida Barlow]
I find what British sculptor Phyllida Barlow has to say about art and the creative process inspiring. And yet I knew nothing of her art before working on Cosima Spender’s fascinating documentary Phyllida Barlow. It was only through listening to her interviews and watching her in the studio that I came to a better understanding of not only her work, but contemporary sculpture in general.
Her Cul-de-sac exhibition currently running at the Royal Academy is an experience I highly recommend. Experience because confronting these giant forms in the exhibition space feels exhilarating, visceral, emotionally moving. Something mysterious in that moment when one’s body encounters large or unfamilar objects outside oneself. The meaning emerging not from imported ideas, references or representations but from the unique, the very primordial physicality of the encounter in space. Today I feel these kind of opportunities to reclaim our own worldly-spatiality call out to us with urget importance.
Christian Marclay and Bill Viola: Two approaches to the concept of time [February 2019]
If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all” - John Cage
From September through to January 2019, the Tate Modern gallery was home to Christian Marclay’s acclaimed installation piece The Clock . Consisting of thousands of film and television clips of clocks, this epic 24-hour video montage runs on a continuous loop synchronised with real time.
Though missing out on the opportunity to gorge at one of the gallery’s selected 24-hour screenings, I did manage to make two trips to see the piece, taking in the hours 10:30 though to 14:30. At the end of January this year as The Clock drew to a close, across the river at the Royal Academy preparations were nearing completion on a new show titled Life Death Rebirth. An exhibition bringing together the video work of Bill Viola and the drawings of Michelangelo. Though working centuries apart, these two artists express a fascination for a similar set of grand, universal themes - the human condition, the body, soul, death and the afterlife. The exhibition opened in late-January and runs till the end of March.
The first thing that struck me with Marclay’s piece was the surreal playback space. A huge room donned with sofa seats arranged at periodic intervals, orderly, grid-like…
[Read more here]
A selection of recent projects [Sep-Nov 2018]:
Listen to My Song  dir. Danny Mitchell • Documentary
Sound Design: John Cohen, Rob Szeliga
More information here
Fifteen (Quince) is one of three projects (the others being Isha and Naptha) that I’ve been recently involved in playing at this year’s festival. Shot by director / cinematographer Peiman Zekavat, the film unfolds as one continuous 10-minute take. This kind of choreographed camera work lends itself well to a soundscape that changes in direct relation to time and space. See Pascal Aubier’s film here for further ideas in this direction, referenced in Tarkovsky’s Sculpting in Time.