Derek Jarman: Super 8 Revelations
Derek Jarman: Super 8 Revelations
An eclectic array of Derek Jarman’s Super 8 films chosen especially for this occasion. In-person: James Mackay
Few filmmakers have earned the descriptor of “legendary,” but Derek Jarman (1942–1994) is one this word seems to fit. With innovation and an intensity of devotion to his cinematic craft, Jarman produced a radical and hugely influential series of films over the course of his tragically short life, including the acclaimed features Jubilee (1978), Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1987), and Blue (1993). Known for their mystery, beauty, and evocative texture, Jarman’s films often employed classical myth, narrative, and history in a complex interplay that tackled topics ranging from queer sensuality and identity to often brutal and brilliant indictments of Thatcher’s Britain and the outmoded mores and political ideologies it represented.
However, the intimacy, presence, and audiovisual experimentation of these more widely known feature films have their origins in Jarman’s prodigious Super 8 filmmaking practice, which roughly spanned the period from 1970 to 1983, during which he produced approximately 80 short films of incredible diversity. The Super 8 medium, with its lower cost, practical limitations, and unique aesthetic properties, inspired Jarman to experiment freely and develop a complex and exciting cinematic language that deeply informed his later work, not to mention the work of generations of artists he inspired.
Thanks to the Luma Foundation and Jarman’s longtime friend and producer, James Mackay, these rarely seen Super 8 films have been newly digitized in recent years, in an appropriately experimental manner that acknowledges Jarman’s tendency to often show these films at different speeds and with different soundtracks, giving them an unfixed form that resisted definitive characterization. In translating Jarman’s Super 8 films for digital presentation, Mackay has not only made these remarkable works accessible, but also revived the unique qualities of spectacle and strange magic that they embody for an immersive and revelatory cinematic experience. Featuring soundtracks by Coil, Simon Fisher Turner, Nick Hudson, and Cyclobe, this program will showcase an eclectic array of Jarman’s Super 8 films chosen especially for this occasion.
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