Bill Douglas Award 6: Mediated Through the Body

Friday 22 March (13:15) passholders only CCA Cinema // 1h20m // 15+
Friday 22 March (20:45) GFT Cinema 3 // 1h45m // 15+
Sunday 24 March (16:30) Civic House // 1h45m // 15+

Our final GSFF24 Bill Douglas Award programme, and we’re not going out lightly. This selection of films consider various forms of physical trauma and history, and what human bodies are subjected to, whether through political control, or individual motivations. Loving In Between is an experimental archive remix on queer expression, and the final part of Jyoti Mistry’s triptych We Come in Peace, They Said, which we’re also showing in full in the presence of the artist. The dystopian, droll and imaginative animation Matta and Matto is a rare example of a film nodding to the COVID-19 pandemic that we welcome, and offers a peculiar reflection on human contact and control. Patient is an insightful documentary experiment about healthcare, workers and patients that works through layers of performance and reality, while The Body Dissolver is the newest from GSFF23 alumnus Dominik Ritszel, and delivers a visceral body horror-esque rumination on the boxers’ experiences of the knock-out moment. We close with the poetic and contemplative Ever Since, I Have Been Flying, a nomadic Kurdish man’s personal testimony in three parts, touching on cultural identity, love, violence, and resistance. 

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Loving in Between

Sweden, Austria // 2023 // 18 mins

Between birth and death is the power to love and live. Political rules, religious orders, social norms and cultural taboos control who we love and how we love. But the erotic has the power to emancipate.

“Folks, I’m Telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean, so get yourself a little loving in between” – Langston Hughes In the final piece of Joyti Mistry’s triphtych she offers a celebration of love and eroticism. Taking inspiration from the work of civil rights activist and poet Langston Hughes, Mistry builds an explosive emancipated archival world that transgresses the structures and norms that attempt to restrict who we love. Grounded in found footage from European film archives, Mistry distinctly stitches the footage together through association, moving between intimate and public space seamlessly transporting us from beaches to the bedroom, men playing sports to women dancing on tables. The sound blends together spoken word performance by Kgafela oa Magogodi and Napo Masheane overlayed with audio of various iterations of jazz standard “Digga Digga Do” offering space to play, contemplate and imagine.

Lauren Clarke

Matta and Mateo

MATTA UND MATTO Switzerland // 2023 // 10 mins

In a dystopian world where touch is forbidden, Matta and Matto offer refuge to the lonely at Hotel Vaip. In the deceptive labyrinth of mindbending rooms, deepest desires are fulfilled, but at what price?

Maybe in the decades to come, we’ll forget that strange period when even the grazing of another person’s finger in the supermarket could cause panic and fear; when touch went from something natural and everyday, to something that occupied the forefront of our minds. Matta and Motto crunches its way from the screen, smacks its lips and gobbles you up. You emerge in a late 90’s Saturday morning on Cartoon Network where that touch-less phase never ended: the creatures who occupy this world keep themselves wrapped in plastic, for fear that they might brush up against a stranger, or hold an apple that someone else has held. This anxiety robs them of their natural colour, and the smell of flowers in Spring. Of course touch becomes a fetish, one which the titular Matta and Matto are happy to cater to in their fun house-come haunted mansion. Picture a pleasure dome somewhere between a cuddle cafe and Saw, where basic need is elevated to the status of impossible fantasy.

Oriana Franceschi


United States // 2023 // 20 mins

Fiction, reality, the private and the performed overlap on a routine but emotional day at a medical centre.

The term Chinese box structure feels squandered on the majority of story-within-story films to which it is applied. In Lori Felker’s meticulous study of empathy and performance, multiple analogous narratives are presented concurrently, each within a distinct and confined physical space. The camera observes each story from above: uniform mise-en-scène, two vulnerable figures contained together within a box. But in the comparison of apparently identical stories we uncover the puzzle of the whole, the layers of reality and artifice, and the question of what else might be going on that remains unspoken. The latest work from this prolific Chicago-based artist is best viewed with as little prior knowledge as possible. Felker brilliantly utilises the physical and ethical constraints of a real-life setting to determine the form of her storytelling, and in so doing devises a narrative that picks at those constraints. The truth remains elusive, even once the viewer has cracked the code of the film’s form. What’s not in question however is the film’s plea for empathy and compassion in all human interaction. In Patient the simple act of listening is shown to be a vital skill that must be learnt and practised.

Matt Lloyd

The Body Dissolver

Poland // 2023 // 11 mins

Professional boxers recall the moment they were knocked out, revealing recurring fantasies about the abandonment of the body and visions of ecstasy, exploited in various spiritual discourses and pop-culture alike.

A knock out is: a scission within the mind-body dualism; agony; ecstasy; opening; closing; abandonment; freedom, and much, much more, according to Dominik Ritszel’s phantasmagoric The Body Dissolver. The words of professional boxers may inform the piece, but these are words distorted: audible, but for the most part indiscernible. Against a backdrop of (rather soothing) noise, we hear phrases like “the light is gone” and “tunnel vision”, but it is the vibrations, not the content of the words that matter here. Sometimes, grasping at the inarticulate is enough. The artist presents us with 3D animations of fictitious embodiments and found footage replete with bodies and touch—often out of context, but ever so sensual—in a compendium of fantasies. Rooted in the reality of one’s unshareable experience, these confabulations branch out, unfolding on their own accord to reach the realms of both mechanical reproduction and spiritual singularity. Often at the same time. Carnal metaphysics, we salute you.

Savina Petkova

Ever Since, I Have Been Flying

Switzerland // 2023 // 18 mins

A 60-year-old man who grew up in a nomadic tribe in the mountains of southeast Turkey recalls moments from his youth.

For those living under persecution, under the constant threat of erasure of their identity and culture, existence itself is a form of resistance. Aylin Gökmen’s poetic portrait of a Kurdish man, Vakif Çağın, and his memories of love and trauma, is a gorgeous and sensitive representation of that resistance. Reflecting on the ongoing discrimination and abuses against Kurds through one man’s life and the women who shaped it, Ever Since, I Have Been Flying is a crucial point of contemplation in this year’s festival programme. The film initially moves between aesthetics that evoke different facets of memory: warm memories represented by a softness, a fragility, and washed out colours, while recollections of violence are met with harsh cliffs in a suddenly jarring black and white and abstract blurs, before we settle on a tender and moving close-up of Vakif. As he describes the torture and deep trauma he was subjected to, it becomes clear that the directness of the testimony underlines how holding onto identity and memory in the face of oppression becomes about radical agency, and about claiming belonging. Gökmen’s film might seem quiet, but both its subject and its director show an extraordinary generosity that by the end builds towards a beautiful yet melancholic imagination for better futures.

Sanne Jehoul