Whale Skull (2019, 83 mins)
2020 is the 20th anniversary of Experimental Film Society (EFS) and Whale Skull was made to mark this occasion.
Set in the near future, Whale Skull sifts the fragments of an imploded cinematic landscape in the search for clues to move forward. Shifting back and forth through flashbacks of impending cataclysm and its eerie aftermath, this broiling collage mixes viscerally playful bargain basement sci-fi with a lyrical consideration of personal experimental cinema.
This film includes contributions from other EFS filmmakers as a celebration of this group’s collaborative spirit. Short Super-8 sequences by Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Vicky Langan, Michael Higgins and Jann Clavadetscher are included along with additional material by Rouzbeh Rashidi.
Whale Skull is available for streaming.
Moon Tiger Movie
Moon Tiger Movie (1997-2019, 367 minutes)
Moon Tiger didn’t find much to do on the moon so he descended to earth. The first thing he discovered is that he had nothing in common with earth tigers so he decided to see what people were like. But he generally spent his time watching movies and going for long solitary walks. Words could never convey his impressions of being on earth so in 1997 he began trying to make movies. Now, 22 years later, he has assembled his movie fragments on four dirty VHS tapes in order to see what he has become…
Moon Tiger Movie is the culmination of my first two decades of filmmaking. It shapes the short film work I did in this time into a four-part feature. In accruing a wealth of films, sketches and experiments over the decades, I have been gradually working towards this major project in which they reveal themselves as parts of a richer whole. What emerges is the electronic smudge of an inner life, the nocturnal residue of an existence half-dreamed. Broken and unreconciled, Moon Tiger Movie is a testament to the compelling inconclusiveness of life and the fragility of images.
Moon Tiger Movie is available for streaming through Experimental Film Society.
Scorpion’s Stone (2018, 346 mins)
Scorpion’s Stone – a film that was never there… Four years in the making, this is Maximilian Le Cain’s most ambitious and challenging work to date. A mysterious underworld is evoked through the aura of obscure abandoned tapes and fictionalized video diaries to reveal the traces of a full-blown B-movie serial. Sounds and images that might mean everything or nothing hover between life and death, as do the characters that drift through them. Over its six-hour running time, Scorpion’s Stone makes use of multiple rhythms and visual textures to repeatedly evoke and dissolve narrative traces. The result is a unique meditation on the haunting malleability of forgotten sounds and images.
Cloud of Skin
Cloud of Skin (2015, 84 mins)
Deeply haunted by the memory of his dead lover, a man (Dean Kavanagh) wanders through the sites of their encounters. The dead woman (Eadaoin O’Donoghue), a blind visionary, has transferred her perceptual powers to him as part of their undying bond. Rather than unfolding as a traditional narrative, Cloud of Skin takes the form of a visually and sonically immersive fever dream. Composer Karen Power’s intense soundscapes complete this mysterious and compelling cinematic experience.
Watch Cloud of Skin here.
Damp Access (2014, 72 mins)
Damp Access is a uniquely personal meditation on the landscape of Cork City, a sort of oneiric diary film that invests heavily in the evocative textures of VHS.
“Lately, I’ve had a recurring vision: to make a video as someone from another planet. I’ve also been thinking that there’s a lot in this cinema that’s ritual, that offers the conditions for a ritual to take place when it starts to occur. A film that is a ritual and which proposes a ritual, like an expanded cinema which is another expanded cinema. One which expands itself through the images towards the spectators. Which establishes a connection between the screen and their brains, a union I like to visualize as an organic cathode ray tube of millions of colours or greenish, vibrant, terrifying but taking me where it wants me to go. Damp Access offers these possibilities.“ – Jorge Núñez, Fuerza Vital
Langan / Le Cain
“Although it could be, and has been, described in terms of cinematic and thematic norms (answers to the question what is this film about, when it should be more, what is this film?), such summaries cannot do it justice. If you commit yourself to it, and despite the absence of narrative trappings it is curiously, hypnotically watchable, it takes you to a place of such interiority that it is unsettling, even disturbing, but also very rewarding. In other words, any new project by Langan and Le Cain is bound to be worth seeing.” – Aidan Dunne on Personal Growth in The Irish Times
For the past decade, I’ve been collaborating with Vicky Langan on a series of films and performances including the feature Inside (2017, 70 mins). To find out more about our collaborative work, please visit this site’s Langan / Le Cain page.
Experimental Film Society Collaborations
Wilderness Notes (Rouzbeh Rashidi, Langan/Le Cain, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, 2017, 60 mins)
The three films that comprise Wilderness Notes all explore psychic, territorial and technological margins. Isolated characters, all somehow locked into masks or fixed personae, navigate desolate zones between dimensions where a sense of being physically adrift and at risk is mapped onto a corresponding inner state. But they are not only adrift in space, they are equally adrift in time. Making experimental use of several outdated moving image formats, notably Super-8 and VHS, Wilderness Notes summons up ghosts from an abandoned future, taking its cues from the western, the nightmare of nuclear holocaust and the masks of ancient theatre.
Self Decapitation (Rouzbeh Rashidi / Maximilian Le Cain, 2017, 65 mins)
Self Decapitation is a Janus-headed self-portrait by Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain in which death and desire take possession in turns of this film in two parts. The ambiguities of inhabiting a human body are conjured by way of film technology in its faults, faulty memories and false promises. There is no escape from its haunting – except perhaps to haunt it in turn…
Watch Self Decapitation here.
Forbidden Symmetries (Dean Kavanagh / Maximilian Le Cain / Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2014, 97 mins)
Three witnesses to the invasion. Three accounts. Are they observing the same thing? Were there any warning signs? And, after all they’ve seen and heard, are they even competent to offer a reliable report? The purpose of this film is to demonstrate that an eﬀort to construct functions known not to exist may on occasion produce interesting frauds.
Watch Forbidden Symmetries here.
H7HSP160 (Rouzbeh Rashidi / Maximilian Le Cain, 2013, 37 mins)
An explosive collision between Rashidi’s ongoing Homo Sapiens Project, a laboratory of cinematic forms, and the psychic fallout of a Le Cain performance.
Weird Weird Movie Kids Do Not Watch The Movie (Rouzbeh Rashidi / Maximilian Le Cain, 2013, 88 mins)
Weird Weird Movie Kids Do Not Watch The Movie is the second collaborative feature film between Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilian Le Cain. This hypnotic, visually and sonically immersive exploration of a haunted space unfolds in two parts. In the first, a woman (Eadaoin O’Donoghue) dissolves her identity into the ghostly resonances she finds in the rooms and corridors of a sprawling, atmospheric seaside basement property. In the second, a man (Rashidi), existing in a parallel dimension of the same space, pursues a bizarre and perverse amorous obsession.
Watch Weird Weird Movie Kids Do Not Watch The Movie here.
Persistencies of Sadness & Still Days (Rouzbeh Rashidi / Maximilian Le Cain, 2012, 240 mins)
Persistencies of Sadness & Still Days is a four hour feature film by Maximilian Le Cain and Rouzbeh Rashidi. Structured in two sections or ‘takes’ of two hours each, this dream-like, experimental project offers two complementary explorations of cinematic form that skirt around possible narratives, ducking through a series of fluctuating audio-visual categories and intensities.
‘Scene 4’ of the Experimental Film Society portmanteau feature The Last of Deductive Frames (10 mins, HDV, 2012)
The Last of Deductive Frames is a collaborative omnibus feature film being made gradually over time by the filmmakers associated with Experimental Film Society. It is a film that starts but never finishes. Each filmmaker will contribute a ten minute section to it. The Last of Deductive Frames is a living cinematic organism designed to forget its creators as it evolves.
Watch Scene 4 here.
Super 8 Films
I have made a number of films on Super-8 with sound on tape that are designed to be screened exclusively on film and will never be digitised. These minimalistic works place a strong emphasis on the materiality of the celluloid image, exploring the contrast of lengthy stretches of dark screen and sparse, often dense bursts of imagery. The first of these is Dark Plastic Reversal (2011, 11 mins). The two subsequent S8 films, The End of the Universe as Red (2012, 12 mins) and Money Spent at Night (2012, 8 mins) were more recently edited together along with additional footage to form Image Turned Down (2015, 20 mins).
“Over forty years ago, Humphrey Esterhase’s entire filmography of seven underground movies was destroyed while he was travelling in South America. His luggage, containing the only copies of these works, was thrown overboard during a mutiny on a boat he had booked passage on. The incident ended with a number of the mutineers being summarily executed with extreme brutality by thugs hired by the boat’s owner. This butchery took place in full view of the passengers, including Esterhase. Possibly in consequence of this harrowing event, the reclusive Esterhase has not made a film since…”
Esterhase was a creation that spawned one interview, one gallery exhibition and two ‘discovered’ films. The interview can be read here.
Habits of a Lifetime (Notes Towards a Dream Diary by Humphrey Esterhase) (2012, 26 mins) Watch here.
The Last Films of Humphrey Esterhase (2011, 20 mins) Watch here.
“A tape arrived yesterday containing what can only be identified as another piece of video work by my cryptic acquaintance Soltan Karl. And the only identifying feature was the handwriting: the address on the envelope – a tatty white envelope with no padding, a corner of the mini-DV cassette already poking through the paper… He first contacted me in 2009 in consequence of having seen my Youtube videos by accident. No direct praise, of course, but a request to see more of my work because he’s suddenly got more time to get stoned these days and it’s good to have something stupid to watch while doing so. Delighted that someone had finally found a good use for my videos, I posted a stack of DVDs to the specified P.O. Box in Gibraltar- and promptly forgot about him. Two months later, I received a parcel of four NTSC and three PAL mini-DV tapes along with a handwritten note. He was ‘throwing out some old shit’ because things had suddenly become ‘precarious’ for him. He thought I might have fun with some ‘stupid stuff’ he shot while ‘messing around with a camera years ago’…”
Find out more about the mysterious Soltan Karl, who met a tragically early death, here.
These are his surviving films:
Coming Soon (2010, 45 secs) Watch it here.
Dirty Sheets of Time (2010, 1 min) Watch it here.
Feed (2010, 2 mins) Watch it here.
Hushed Light (2010, 3 mins) Watch it here.
No Way (2010, 3 mins) Watch it here.
The Last Man on Earth Dreams of Cat Shit (2010, 2 mins) Watch it here.
Everybody’s Favourite Disease (2010, 2 mins) Watch it here.
The Soldeck Cycle (as Soltan Karl) (2010, 5 mins) Watch it here.
Collaborations & Documentaries
121 (2020, 28 mins)
An experimental film collaboration with Aisling O Connell built around an intuitive ‘call and response’ process. The outcome is a mysterious collage of personal imagery adrift on shifting tides of obsession.
Pigskin Pockets (2019, 22 mins)
A naughty experimental documentary made in collaboration with Rubber Cripple. It takes a playful look at voyeurism and the intimate experiences of some sexually adventurous and flamboyant characters.
Two Storms Collide (2018, 8 mins)
A collaboration between Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais and me. Witness the chilling consequences of a desperate band of experimental filmmakers isolated from humanity by extreme weather conditions and possessed by the unquiet ghost of W.C.Fields.
Watch Two Storms Collide here.
Sonic Vigil (Sketches) (2014, 18 mins)
An impressionistic, experimental record of the 2014 edition of the annual Cork sound art event Sonic Vigil.
Watch Sonic Vigil (Sketches) here.
Arkady Feed (2013, 13 mins)
A collaboration with Paul Hegarty. Arkady Feed explores the forlorn yet strangely resilient and always evocative post-industrial terrain of Cork’s docklands using sounds found in the area by Paul and images picked up there by me. Caught in a moment of transition and apparent decay, the buildings and byways of this zone are in the process of dropping the identity that their use-value stamped them with and revealing what they truly are: structures and passages freely interacting with nature and with each other, possessing relationships, energies and even sexualities that clearly emerge as human interference recedes.
Watch Arkady Feed here.
Nothing Jumps Out At Me (2012, 10 mins)
A collaboration with John Godfrey. Pure flicker, pure pulse. White on white image and noise. Also the basis of a multiscreen installation in which visitors were invited to wear semi-transparent blindfolds and explore a flickering room.
Strange Attractor (2012, 13 mins)
Experimental document of and response to a durational performance by Strange Attractor. Strange Attractor is a multi-dimensional, collaborative venture that experiments with sound, movement, technology, combined media, text and found objects. Its core members are Anthony Kelly, Danny McCarthy, Irene Murphy, Mick O’Shea and David Stalling.
Watch Strange Attractor here.
JR: Dream This In Remembrance Of Me (2011, 1 min)
A tribute to master filmmaker Jean Rollin.
Watch JR: Dream This In Remembrance Of Me here.
Monochrome Dreams (2010, 4 mins)
A very DIY music video for Cork band Makeshift Mineshaft.
Slow Tape (2010, 30 mins)
An abstract tape of visuals designed to accompany live sound performance. It has been used in several contexts over the years.
Afternoons With Johnny (2008, 23 mins)
A documentary portrait of late artist John Wallace.
Watch Afternoons With Johnny here.
(Pr)Evens (2006. 18 mins)
A documentary collaboration with Tim Furey in which Tim interviews Ian MacKaye of Fugazi.
To be continued…