Friday, March 28, 2014

A Boat Retold Screens in Edinburgh Today @ Alchemy @ Hidden Door

Just a quick cross-post from my filmmaking blog:

A Boat Retold screens in Edinburgh tonight at 1905 at the Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival Preview, which is taking place at the Hidden Door Festival, in the psychogeographic wonders that are the Market Street Vaults. (On the immediate south side of Waverley Station, the Old Town side.) The main Hidden Door preview kicks off at 1700, but the Alchemy tasters and teasers will run from NOON till MIDNIGHT.

We will be there for the Boat screening.

The full line-up - loosely a "best of" previous editions of Alchemy - is:

12 pm: JUSQUE-LÀ
Enrique Ramirez / France / 2012
In a small town in northern France (Béthune), the oldest non religious
brotherhood of the world still exists, formed more than 825 years
ago. In other place of the world, 5000 feet high, there is an imaginary
man who takes a walk, who represents the unknown and uncertain
journey between the life and the death.

12.35 pm: SIN∞FIN THE MOVIE #3
VestAndPage / Italy / 2012
Sin∞Fin #3 is the third part in a trilogy of films by performance
artists Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes. Set in Antarctica, the two
characters move through the deserted, icy vastness of an oneiric
land. They find themselves creatures being torn between life and
death, absence and misleading mirages, fortune and emptiness.

1.25 pm: SHORT FILMS
Dean Kavanagh (Ireland), Gonzalo Egurza (Argentina), Alasdair Bayne (UK), Shaun Hughes (UK), Enrique Verdugo (UK/Chile
In the telling of stories, these landscapes permeate their narratives, becoming metaphorical, contextual, signifying or emotive.

Jeanette Groenendaal / Netherlands / 2012
Jeanette Groenendaal returns to a village in the Dutch Bible Belt to film a personal study of the scapegoat mechanism. A project staging tableaux performances melting frozen memories in an emotionally charged landscape. In a series of ‘visions’ she reconstructs excerpts from her childhood.

4.10 pm: SHORT FILMS
Kika Nicolela (Brazil), Plan B / Katrina McPherson (UK), Jonathan Inksetter (Canada), Claudia Borgna (UK), Jac Min (Singapore), Vicent Gisbert (Germany), Irene Loughlin & Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa (Canada), Rachel Sweeney (UK)

Julie Brook / Scotland / 1997
The landscape work developed by Scottish artist Julie Brook when she lived for over a period of 3 years on the uninhabited west coast of Jura. including temporal sculptures involving stone and ice fire-stacks, the wind and the sea.

5.55 pm: SHORT FILMS
Enrique Ramirez / France / 2012
In a small town in northern France (Béthune), the oldest non religious brotherhood of the world still exists, formed more than 825 years ago. In other place of the world, 5000 feet high, there is an imaginary man who takes a walk, who represents the unknown and uncertain journey between the life and the death.

7.05 pm: A BOAT RETOLD
Louise Milne & Sean Martin / Scotland / 2013
Artist and poet Ian Stephen, writer Robert Macfarlane and others tell stories in and around the restored Orkney boat, Broad Bay, as it sets off for the Shiant Islands. The boat and its history becomes the narrative focus for movements in time over three generations, a complex narrative of island traditions, arts and crafts.

7.40 pm: SHORT FILMS
Emilie Crewe (Canada), Mihai Grecu (France), SJ. Ramir (New
Zealand), Maike Zimmermann (UK), Davor Sanvincenti (Croatia), Robert Todd (USA)
From politicised desert landscapes to an abstracted metaphysical presence, the snow-covered world of Derek Jarman’s Dungeness, to a blind predator dreaming through its prey’s eyes.

Jacques Perconte / France / 2013
Along the shores of Normandy, on the track of the Impressionist painters, something is happening: the colors are crashing against the screen… Jacques Perconte’s work is derived from the artistic manipulation of digital video, a pioneer in the use of compression codecs as an artistic tool

Robert Cahen / France
Robert Cahen’s uniquely poetic experimental filmmaking spans a period of 40 years. Exploring the fleeting qualities of perception, filmed reality becomes a mutable substance, transformed through a vision rich in subjective meaning.

Patrick Bokanowski / France
Patrick Bokanowski is one of the most acclaimed and influential experimental filmmakers of our era. His work is concerned with the subjective psychology of the image, rejecting the tools of conventional representation in pursuit of a painterly, dream-like and visually poetic world.

10.55 pm: SHORT FILMS
Robert Todd (USA), Sheri Wills (USA), Leneweit & Rodriguez (Germany), Sean Martin (UK), Lori Felker (USA), Sam Spreckley (UK), Fabienne Gautier (France), Tarrl Lightowler (USA), Alexander Isaenko (Ukraine)
In travelling through nature, what possibilities might open to our sight? Is nature just a box of aged, foil wrapped chocolates? Maybe it is constructed through a spatial temporal grid, or is it a metaphoric landscape mirroring the transience of life?

11.45 pm: SHORT FILMS
Tanya Shillina-Conte (USA), Mihai Grecu (France), Lin Li (UK), Anne Patsch (UK), Samantha Rebello (UK), Wolfgang Lehrner (Austria), Pat Law (UK), Debra Fear (UK), Patricia Townsend (UK)
The elements are as much psychological as physical, embodied both in the natural landscapes of the world we inhabit and as substantial force within image-making. This programme explores elemental embodiment as a set of both extensive and intensive qualities, in image substance itself and landscape as subject.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Siege of Montségur: Cathars Now out in paperback

The Cathar fortress of Montségur

With Raymond now a spent force, the Church had only one place left to tackle that openly defied them: the Pyrenean fortress of Montségur, the so-called ‘Synagogue of Satan’ that had been a Cathar stronghold ever since the days of Innocent’s ‘peace and faith’ campaign. At a council at Béziers in the spring of 1243, it was decided that action against Montségur had to be taken. By the end of May, an army led by Hugh of Arcis, the royal seneschal in Carcassonne, was in place at the foot of Montségur, but given the fortress’s reputation for impregnability, they knew they would be in for a long wait.

  Montségur had been refortified in 1204 by Raymond of Pereille. He was a Believer, and both his mother and mother-in-law were Perfect. The castle had been a refuge for Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade, and when the Inquisition began its work, Guilhabert de Castres, the Cathar bishop of Toulouse, approached Raymond with the request that the castle become the centre of the faith. By the time Guilhabert died (of natural causes) around 1240, it was home to around 200 Perfect, overseen by Guilhabert’s successor, Bertrand Marty. They were protected by a garrison of 98 knights, under Peter Roger of Mirepoix, whom Raymond of Pereille had appointed co-lord of Montségur at some point prior to 1240. Raymond had guessed – rightly – that the community would need armed protection as the noose of the Inquisition tightened around the Languedoc. Peter Roger, who was from a family of Cathar Believers, had more in common with the bellicose Paulicians than the pacifist Perfect: he was not averse to armed robbery in order to keep the community fed, and had been the instigator of the assassinations at Avignonet. During its heyday, Montségur had been busy as a centre of both intense devotion and industry. Pilgrims travelled great distances to hear the Perfect preach, to be consoled, or simply to spend time in retreat. When not busy with tending to the needs of the Believers, the Perfect helped support the community by working as weavers (a craft long associated with heresy), blacksmiths, chandlers, doctors and herbalists. By the time the siege began, the total number of people living there – including the knights’ families – was somewhere in the region of 400.

  Hugh of Arcis did not have enough men to encircle the two-mile base of the mountain, and in such craggy terrain siege engines were useless. Hugh had no choice but to try to take the fortress by direct assault. His forces made numerous attempts to scale the peak, but each time were driven back by arrows and other missiles lobbed over Montségur’s ramparts by Peter Roger and his men. The months dragged on wearily and, by Christmas, Hugh’s army was becoming disillusioned. He needed a breakthrough if there was any chance of raising morale. He ordered an attack on the bastion that sat atop the Roc de la Tour, a needle of rock at the eastern end of the summit. The men climbed the Roc by night, and caught the garrison at the top by surprise. The defenders were all killed. When daylight came, the royal troops looked down in horror at the sheer face they had scaled, swearing they could never have made the ascent by day. Nevertheless, it gave the royal forces a strong foothold just a few hundred yards from the main castle itself, and work began immediately on winching up catapults and mangonels. Bombardment began immediately.

  Inside the walls of Montségur, the atmosphere of devotion intensified. While Peter Roger’s men returned fire on the French troops, who were edging ever nearer from their foothold at the Roc, Bertrand Marty and Raymond Agulher, the Cathar bishop of the Razès, attended the spiritual needs of both the garrison and the non-combatants. A messenger arrived to say that Raymond VII might intervene to lift the siege. Rumour had it that Frederick II was also planning a rescue mission to liberate Montségur. The weeks dragged on, but no one came. Finally, on 2 March 1244, Peter Roger walked out to announce the surrender of the fortress to Hugh of Arcis. The victors were lenient with their terms: everyone could go free, provided they allowed themselves to be questioned by the Inquisition, and swear an oath of loyalty to the Church. Past crimes, including the assassinations at Avignonet, were forgiven. For the Perfect, the choice was as stark as it had been for their forebears at Minerve and Lavaur: renounce Catharism, or burn. They had two weeks to think about it.

- Posted on the anniversary of the fortress's fall. The Cathars: The Rise & Fall of the Great Heresy is out now in paperback.

Friday, March 07, 2014

StAnza Poetry Festival Appearance Tonight

I'll be putting in an appearance at the StAnza Poetry Festival tonight at 1815, at the Zest Juice Bar on South Street. After which, we'll be going up to the Byre Theatre to see John Burnside. There had been vague plans for me to interview John, but these seem to have gotten lost in the works. Never mind, these things happen. John's new collection, All One Breath, just out from Cape, is excellent. If you liked his Forward Prize-winning previous collection, Black Cat Bone, you'll like this new book.