Frames of Representation

Now in its fourth year, the Frames of Representation film festival is back at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Celebrating transgressive, unruly cinema, this year’s overarching theme is “de-framing.” On show are films that demonstrate an aesthetic and political resistance to the categorisations of film; that break boundaries between documentary and fiction and advocate connections across borders. 

As you might expect from the ICA, this means films that come from all round the globe. To quote the festival catalogue, “Frames of Representation embraces the cinema of the real, which lies at the intersection of fiction and non-fiction. We believe that that aesthetics, politics and ethics of the cinema of the real enables the depiction of individual lives and an engagement with socio-political struggles.”

The nine-day festival includes 12 full-length features and six shorts, and the range of directors whose work is being screened is impressive. Amongst the highlights must surely be Our Time, which will receive its UK premiere and be followed by a Q&A with its director, Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas. Set around a rural family that raise fighting bulls, it’s a painfully raw work starring Reygadas and his wife Natalia López as a couple in an open relationship.

Still from Stones Have Laws.

Also receiving its UK premiere is Stones Have Laws, a unique bridge between filmmaking, poetry and theatre that explores life a Maroon community in the former Dutch colony of Suriname. Set in a world where industry and deforestation threatens the locals, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with directors Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan & Tolin Erwin Alexander. 

The festival also includes a range of workshops, seminars and talks, including one on the Lodz Film School and Polish Cinema, hosted by Sight & Sound’s Kieron Corless. On the closing Saturday, there will be an all-day symposium, Pluralising Representations, where artists, researchers and filmmakers will gather to discuss the role of experimental aesthetics in promoting a diversity of cultural perspectives.

Intriguingly, there is also a live performance of Little Ethiopia from editors Joe Bini and Maya Hawke – both long-time Werner Herzog collaborators. Blending personal photographs, videos and clips from films they have edited with live narration, husband-and-wife Bini and Hawke will improvise a story which integrates the themes of love, sexuality and contemporary discourse around gender.

Frames of Representation 2019 is at the ICA until 20 April. For more details, click here.

James Mottram

1. Lead Image: Still from
Our Time.