Large room, white walls and not more than three rows of chairs. As people arrive, they find a place to sit. At that moment, all you can hear is quiet voices and someone in the back preparing the projector for some short films. As soon as the lights switch off, silence dominates the scene. The silence ends when the image appears projected on the wall. A set of images and sounds disturb the small audience. What you are able to see is images out of sequence, fragmented space and disjointed speech. Anyone who experiences this finds themselves in another universe.
It is a different universe that we are not used to seeing on multiplex screens. The use of exploratory, non-script approaches in these films are well explored by experimental filmmakers Maximilian Le Cain and Rouzbeh Rashidi. At the door of Temple Bar Gallery + Studio, I met a man with a smooth voice and reserved personality who introduced himself as Max. The Irish filmmaker has made several short, medium and feature length experimental films over the past few years. Many of them were filmed in Co. Cork, his homeland. He also works as a film critic and runs Experimental Conversations, Cork Film Centre’s online experimental film magazine.
Max defined his films as “non-script based” and “exploratory”. He says: “I am very interested in cinema itself, in the way that different elements, sound, visual and film history, all these things interact. In the same way, it is my own way of reacting to the world around me and those things play off against each other.”
Image Turned Down is one of his works, filmed with Super-8 cameras and project on celluloid. The next film displayed was Notebook of a Decade, produced between 1997 and 2008. The sound project had a great effect on Image Turned Down due to in part the indispensable collaboration of his colleagues Dean Kavanagh and Rouzbeh. The Iranian avant-garde filmmaker has been making films since 2000 and his works are far from the expected standard of filmmaking. He has been producing films with Max for five years. He says: “Max and I have been working together for the past 5 years, but I feel like I have worked with him all my life. I try exploring things together rather than working individually. Our films are equally important. We have in common the way we treat cinema, images and sound.”
The intense use of collage and broken narrative portrays a turbulent inner universe in which we can be totally disturbed due to the absence of linear narrative. When I asked Max what kind of reaction he expected from his audience, he said, “Anything except for indifference.” Definitely, we cannot be indifferent to this. When the films ended, it seemed that the audience was slowly getting back in contact with reality. I could describe it as an unusual experience, far from provoking an indifferent reaction in me.
Cloud of Skin is Max’s new feature film which will be released this summer. He points out, “It is a love story on some level.”
By Maira De Gois