Ben Rivers & Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward off the Darkness UK Release

Audiences follow an unnamed character through three seemingly disparate moments in his life: joining him in the midst of a 15-person collective on a small Estonian island; in isolation in the majestic wilderness of Northern Finland; and during a concert as the singer and guitarist of a black metal band in Norway. This Nordic setting provides the film with a haunting and ecstatic beauty, while the figure that we follow is artist and multi-instrumentalist, Robert AA Lowe or ‘Lichens’ – the name that he stands under during his mesmerising stage performances.

Directed by rising visual art stars, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, A Spell to Ward off the Darkness is an inquiry into the possibilities of a spiritual existence within an increasingly secular Western culture. While Lowe is our protagonist, the rest of the cast is comprised of non-actors whose movements have been choreographed to provide an authentic backdrop to Rivers’ and Russell’s narrative. A timeless document of past, present and future, the film lies somewhere between fiction and non-fiction – it is both a recorded experience and was, in its making, a participatory experience itself, an inquiry into transcendence that sees the cinema as a site for transformation.

A Spell to Ward off the Darkness, out on DVD & Blu-ray. Find out more at

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1. A Spell to Ward off the Darkness trailer. Courtesy of the artists.