David Fernandes
Producer, Director, Writer

Archive for the ‘arts funding’ Category

Where the hell is Bristol?

Tue ,22/05/2007

Way more west of London than that silly Google maps thingie let on, that’s for sure. And there’s way more farm land in England that I ever imagined. In this part of the country, it seems like it’s either rural or city, with very, very sparse suburbs. That’s the impression from the train anyway. Quite a contrast to southern ontario, which is basically all suburbs with a bit of urban and rural thrown in for some flavour.

It’s a small, compact city with lots of character, tonnes of young people, and some incredible musical lineage, not the least of who are Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky. This little city pretty much programmed two solid years worth of CD player for me (unknowingly) in the 90′s.

Despite falling asleep about 18 times on the train ride from Gatwick to here, I was too excited to rest and headed straight out to the Arnolfini to check out the Black Audio Film Collective retrospective. I also subsequently re-confirmed my suspicion that i won’t be doing anything else tomorrow but watching the other 10 films i didn’t get to see today.

The three i did were fabulous: Handsworth Songs, a long-time favourite and then two more I haven’t seen: Twighlight City, about gentrification, thatcherism and diasporic displacement in London, in the late 80′s, and also Signs of Empire, essentially a slide show juxtaposing images of British colonialism/nationalism with images of the labour slavery and servitude that empowered it.

I am totally spent, reeling with enthusiam, and drinking a dry cider – a nice mix of contrasts for a day of contrasts. (And shit, dry cider on tap!)

My plan is to sleep very soon, wake up early tomorrow, take a few pics of this pretty little city, and then binge out on BAFC from 10am until close. I intend to take one break, but this really is my only chance to see these films, as they STILL haven’t been collected for resale. (One of the friendly staff at the gallery is trying to put me in touch with one of the curators so i can beg them to put a compilation out).

I am dumbstruck by the works i saw today, particularly Twighlight City since it is new to me and was effective on so many levels: Incredible soundtrack/sound mix, a personal and yet also partly fictional narrative and lots of haunting imagery of gentrification, decay and re-’development’/displacement. The soundtracks on all their films are pretty amazing – super dub inspired and also very expressionistic – they add this dischordant tension and anxiety, it reminds me of how important sound and score are to the emotional feel of films.

Anyway, great day, I’m beat. And running out of laptop power as i mistakenly thought all of europe hade the same AC prongs – apparently not so. I need to find the UK version.

A mini-rant: the Arnolfini is funded mostly by lottery money and the BAFC show, spanning three floors, three theatres and many galleries – is all free.

Um… where does Ontario/Canadian lottery money go? (Just asking, no idea.)

Also, the BAFC work, as mind-bending, controversial and challenging as it is, on many levels, was largely funded through a system of public grants. Like, wow. Here’s to public arts funding. wow.