Documenting Landscapes

Duration: 120 min

Four Weeks on Tuesdays from 4 June, 7–9pm
The course will take place in the Community Room at Hackney Picturehouse
Lecturer: Ryan Powell


In this four week course we will explore the genre of documentary film that can broadly be defined as Landscape Cinema. These are films which examine the links between humans and the spaces we exist within both natural and man-made. Films in this genre tend to eschew familiar narrative structures and employ a durational aesthetic linking landscape films with the broader world of slow cinema. A focus on the landscape has been used by filmmakers in numerous ways and for different ends from exploring the links between personal and social history to revealing the unseen workings of industrial food production.

Through guided discussion and lots of viewings of clips and short films we will delve into this fascinating area of filmmaking. The films listed as recommended viewing can mostly be found online. It is not essential that you watch them all as we will view clips in the classes. No feature length films will be shown as part of the course it self.

Week One: The roots of Landscape Cinema
In this first week we will consider the main preoccupations of landscape cinema. We will consider the impulse to document landscapes in early cinema and look at films in the genre of “The City Symphony”; an early expression of landscape and durational film from the 1920’s.

Recommended Viewing:
• Berlin: Symphony of a City (Walter Ruttmann 1927)

Week two: Landscape and the politics of place
This week we will focus on films which seek to reveal social structures through a focus on places rather than people. These films reveal the often mundane locals of power and, through an accumulation of images, seek to give the systems that make up our political and economic order a tangible and physical form.

Recommended Viewing:
• London (Patrick Keiller 1994)
• Landscape Suicide (James Benning 1987)
• AKA serial Killer (Masao Adachi 1969)

Week Three: The outside is inside: memory and personal exploration
In this week we will look at how landscape has been important to filmmakers seeking to sift and explore their own personal and family histories.

Recommended viewing:
• My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin 2007)
• The Joy Of Life (Jenni Olson 2005)

Week Four: Transcendence: The world is not human/ humans are not the world
In this session we will look at films which de-centre the human experience and visualise a world where the human is not the primary form. We will consider landscape films as meditations on the natural world and consider the way we view such films in the context of climate change and mass extinction.

Recommended viewing:
• Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter 2016)
• La Quattro Volte (Michael Angelo Frammartino 2010)

Tickets are £60 for the full four week course (£55 concession / £50 Picturehouse Members).




Club and Group screenings

Tue 4th Jun 19.00 Film Course.



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