Presented in collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival, this prelude screening offers a sense of some of the key approaches and techniques Everson has developed in his oeuvre. The Island of St. Matthews betrays the artist’s deft weaving of different modes of representing a landscape, a community and its history through painterly vignettes, conversation and staged scenes. Everson’s stated approach of using reality as a formal device is beautifully illustrated in this film, which unfolds in an at-once poetic and naturalistic register common to much of his work. His subtle interventions include a sculptural object he crafted to blend naturally into the environment – a technique employed again in Fe26 and It Seems to Hang On.
Old Cat evokes a sense of timelessness that characterises several other of Everson’s black-and-white silent films, such as Three Quarters and Tygers. It was Everson’s first magazine-take 16mm film, a mode of filmmaking in which the entire film or shot is captured in a continuous take whose duration is defined by the length of the reel of film. He went on to use this long-take approach to make his subsequent feature Erie. Grand Finale attests to an economy of form and sense of precision with regards to framing, depth, duration and location sound characteristic of the artist’s short films.
Taking us to Mississippi, Virginia and Michigan, this programme not only explores some of the key formal registers Everson navigates in his work but also the places and communities to which he is connected.
The Island of St. Matthews, United States 2013, 16mm transferred to digital, colour and black and white, sound, 64 min
A poem and paean to the citizens of Columbus, Mississippi, the hometown of Everson's parents, The Island of St. Matthews recalls all that was lost during the 1973 flooding of the nearby Tombigbee River. Stunningly shot on 16mm film, this feature combines interviews with community members with sequences of a waterskier on the river, a worker at the lock and dam, a baptism and a young couple enquiring about flood insurance. The sound of a church bell – a bronze sculpture made by the filmmaker – intones throughout, interspersed with a spare, elegiac score.
Old Cat, United States 2009, 16mm, black and white, silent, 11 min
Shot in a single, handheld, eleven-minute take, Old Cat captures a slow but pleasant motorboat journey along a river in Virginia.
Grand Finale, United States 2015, HD, colour, sound, 5 min
A tightly framed take of two teenaged boys recording a Fourth of July fireworks display in Detroit gives way to a deeper shot in time for the grand finale.
Presented in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival, 5–10 September