The guerrilla-style cinema project returns with five specially commissioned artists’ films, that will be infiltrating the mainstream cinema programme around the UK, and taking experimental short film to a new audience, by screening before big-name commercial features. The successful previous editions in 2006 and 2010 infiltrated widely- released titles such as Inception, The Girl who Played with Fire, Tamara Drewe, Casino Royale, Pan’s Labyrinth and This is England, reaching audiences of over 900,000 in cinemas nationwide.
This year’s commissioned artists are Tony Ramono and Corin Sworn (UK, winner of Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2014), Margaret Salmon (USA, winner of Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2006), Gabriel Abrantes (USA/Portugal, European Film Award Best Short Film nominee 2014, winner Locarno Golden Leopard of Tomorrow, 2010), Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh, Mario Merz Prize finalist 2015) and Dora García (Spain, winner PIAC – International Prize for Contemporary Art 2015).
Sworn and García’s films tackle particular legacies of performance – the Punchinello figure of commedia dell’arte and the “happenings” of Argentine artist Oscar Masotta respectively – while Gabriel Abrantes imagines the wittier details of Modernist painter Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’s bohemian life, hob-nobbing with Brancusi, in his supercharged history of the infamous ‘Princess X’, a futuristic bronze phallus that is actually a bust portrait of Napoleon’s equally infamous great grand niece, Marie Bonaparte.
Naeem Mohaiemen’s Abu Amar is Coming turns to a more recent history, that of radical politics in the 1970s, investigating the presence of Bangladeshi guerrillas in Lebanon who joined and fought for the PLO in its struggle first for domination, then only survival. Meanwhile, Margaret Salmon looks to the forests of Scotland for a cacophonous re-working of the dawn chorus in Birdsong. Recorded and filmed in various woodlands, the birds are first presented in camouflage, then gradually revealed in close-up, creating a cacophony of colours and sound.
The Artists Cinema; from 8 February; selected UK cinemas; www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk