PORTOBELLO FILM FESTIVAL 2005
(1 –23 August)
TENTH ANNIVERSARY EXTRAVAGANZA
After Edinburgh and London, Portobello must be the third biggest
Film Festival in UK. Some 8500 people attended this year (it would have
been more but it rained during our three days in the park). We screened
502 new films at 7 different venues (Westbourne Studios, Emslie Horniman’s
Park megascreen, Inn On The Green, The Electric, Cobden Club, Muse Gallery
and The Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green). There were 18 days of continuous
screenings with two venues operating every night running from 6pm –
11pm and 2pm – 11pm over three weekends. All events were free and
open to everyone, apart from launch parties at The Cobden Club and the
Muse Gallery, and the Award Ceremony at The Electric.
We also expanded into Art this year with two week exhibitions at both
Westbourne Studios and The Muse, and a 3 day live graffiti event with
DJs under the Westway covered market.
500 NEW FILMS
Seminars & Talks
The Festival kicked off with a special preview of clips from the then
unreleased Dear Wendy (written by Lars Von Trier) introduced on a specially
recorded video by director Thomas Vinterberg and featuring a Q&A from
the editor Mads Jorgensen, and a seminar on marketing from Tom Grievson
Particularly lively was the Black Eye satirical magazine night, which
featured, amongst a whole evening of bad taste films, a short about a
black man telling racial jokes. This was followed by an improvised and
heated debate about taste and race chaired by Black Eye’s Bobby
Joseph, who also writes scripts for Lenny Henry.
Similarly stimulating was the Filmmakers Against The War evening featuring
a panel discussion about the boundaries between politics and art, and
Jo Wilding’s Letter To The Prime Minister from the front line in
Collective Vision hosted a whole evening of their work including music
videos with Benjamin Zephaniah, attended by Alison Steadman, and talked
about low and no budget moviemaking.
Terence Davies recorded a specially commissioned interview for us about
his famous Liverpudlian gay working class trilogy, which was followed
by a screening of these ground breaking and rarely seen films: Children,
Madonna & Child, and Death And Transfiguration.
Dave Knight from Promo magazine presented an evening on the future of
the music video with top director Dougal Watson, and festival founder
Barney Platts-Mills introduced his classic Private Road, attended by one
of the stars Susan Penhaligon.
Many of the films were introduced by the makers: James Goldcrown and his
moving African AIDS documentary To Die No More, Ash Malmood and Swimmer,
Susan Sheridan and Edible Snow Beasts, Rudy Fieldgrass and Love Struck,
Arno Coenen (from Holland) and VIP Holland Experience. Most screenings
were attended by the directors and crews.
Top video artists Chris Cunningham and Al & Al also gave talks - see
below in Rock Art section.
The Westbourne courtyard outside the cinema became our delegate centre
and was the scene of much networking and “partying”. We projected
the visuals from the cinema onto the courtyard wall.
Whatever their age or background Portobello Film Festival audiences are
looking for exciting new developments in a medium that has somewhat stagnated
in the mainstream. Much bigger audience numbers this year indicated that
this alternative movie culture that Portobello presents is beginning to
break through at last. Indeed it was the first year that crowd control
became an issue with more people turning up than there were seats available
at both Westbourne Studios and The Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green
Different Themes And Countries
The screenings were broken down into different themes every night. Themes
were very varied and attracted completely different audiences from right
across age, race and economic spectrums.
As usual there were a number of dedicated International nights which included
focuses on Ireland (from the Cork Film Festival), Holland (from Holland
Film), Spain (from the Audio Visual School of Madrid) and Canada. Other
international contributions came from as far afield as Armenia (a mystical
version of Hamlet), Nepal, Japan, Iran, China (the brave and moving lesbian
love story Butterfly), Russia (Serious Fitness about the hothouse passions
of an adolescent girl in a gym), Israel, and Cuba.
Especially popular were the Documentary night which was of an exceptionally
high standard, the American Beats Night featuring filmed interviews and
work from Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, and local author Tom
Vague’s Hollwood W11selection, with psychgeographical subtitles,
of films either made in or about Portobello Road/Notting Hill especially
put together for the Portobello Film Festival.
We also screened a number of films by local community groups including
films by local kids, and provided a limited Bring Your Own Film facility
at the Inn On The Green.
Programme distribution was very efficient and, having closely studied
it, most of the audience knew exactly which films they wanted to see,
and as the auditorium emptied for one film it would quickly fill up again
for the next.
At Westbourne Studios the Cinema was full by 7pm most nights and would
stay that way through to 11.
The Inn On The Green & The Paradise By Way Of Kensal Road
This was our first year at The Inn On The Green, previously The Portobello
Green Fitness Centre Bar, like Westbourne Studios under the Westway itself.
The Inn On The Green screened the above mentioned Hollywood W11, American
Beats and local kids community films as well as providing the BYO facility
(somewhat limited this year due to the vast number of programmed films).
Other well appreciated work at The Inn included an evening of Political
Documentaries including one from Baghdad and three evenings of work from
the Italian video artist Flavio Sciole.
Portobello Film Festival will start it’s weekly Video Cafes every
Wednesday at The Inn (3 – 5 Thorpe Close, W10) from 19 October (full
programme on Video Café page of website). The Inn is also presenting
Comedy nights hosted by Tony Allen and starring the likes of Ken Campbell
on Thursdays, rock and roll evenings including Alabama 3 on Saturdays,
and happenings from previous Festival collaborators Grant Showbiz and
Dom Spiral on the last Sundays of every month. Portobello at last has
a regular alternative arts centre.
Over the weekend with the megascreen in Emslie Horniman’s Park (12
– 14 August), The Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green, on the other
side of the Harrow Road, played host to a very popular Spanish evening
and two equally popular nights dedicated to London filmmakers. People
were sitting on the stage, such was the demand for space.
Emslie Horniman’s Park
The highlight of the Portobello Film Festival is traditionally the weekend
with the megascreen in Emslie Horniman’s Park, Kensal Road, W10.
Portobello is the only Festival to use the megascreen, a big video screen
normally seen at sports and music events, which shows digital pictures
clearly even in brightest sunlight. In Summer it does not get dark till
late which makes 35mm projection problematic and the big screen technology
is conveniently contained in one unit – no need for inflatable screens
or large projectors and scaffolding towers. Emslie Horniman’s is
in Golbourne Ward, W10, one of the 10% poorest wards in UK, and the event
is hugely looked forward to by local people as their own bit of technological
Accordingly this year we programmed a special family programme with Shrek
2, Monsters Inc, Looney Tunes, Spiderman 2 and X Men 2. What better way
of spending a sunny Summer afternoon and evening than in a local park
watching mass appeal movies?
Unfortunately, for the first time in five years of megascreen movies it
chucked it down with rain. A few hundred brave souls endured the weather,
some even brought along tents, but there is no denying the disappointment.
Luckily things had cleared up a bit by the Sunday evening when we presented
our VJ Convention with work from Gorillaz and Addictive TV, and live VJ
sets from Hexstatic, Red Dog and Exceeda.
ROCK ART at the PORTOBELLO FILM FESTIVAL 2005
Supported by Arts Council England and Film London’s Artists
Moving Image Network, Portobello Film Festival this year expanded
into presenting cutting edge fine art – painting, sculpture,
photography, installation and moving image – to compliment the
Why Rock Art? Well, Rock music was always better than pop music…it
promised more integrity and was less of a mouthpiece for establishment
values. All of these artists have worked with musicians on live concerts
or videos or album covers. The lines are blurring between the different
mediums as we enter a multimedia century.
Also working in an Underground context our Rock Art strand aimed to
bring art to the attention of the public in demystifying environments
like Parks, bars and cafes. As the film festival draws attention to
films that might not otherwise be screened or appreciated by a very
mediocre mainstream, so we hope to give the public exposure to funky
new artworks that take much of their inspiration from the streets.
Local graffiti artist Alex Martinez, responsible for many shopfronts
in Portobello Road and pioneer of the growing legal graffiti movement
– painting on designated sites (like The Hall Of Fame in Wornington
Road) and taking commissions from businesses who are beginning to
recognise the mass popular appeal of the genre and – organised
a three day live painting event with DJs under the Westway covered
market with top painters Stateofart, Snug, Pulse, and Busk 1. Sprayed
on wood, the works were then cut to shape and assembled into a 3D
virtual reality urban landscape installation at The Muse Gallery,
269 Portobello Road, called Palookaville, which ran for the length
of the Festival. Alex also produced a special Portobello Film Festival
piece featuring Jimi Hendrix juggling reels of film.
At The Muse, too, Ken Macdonald of Golbourne SRB’s Golbourne
Life magazine exhibited a poignant, elegiac collection of photos of
disappearing Portobello Road (as it sinks below tide of coffee chains,
theme bars, overpriced restaurants, and venal estate agents) called
Portobello Love Letter. The exhibition was complimented by a DVD of
the photos set to the song “On The Street Where You Live”.
The Muse exhibition was reviewed in Time Out which said it was “very
loud” and stimulated much discussion.
Les Freres Ripoulin are a group of Parisian painters who are masters
of the art of affichage or postering. This involves painting enormous
pictures, often with household paint on white lining wallpaper or
brown wrapping paper, and then pasting them up on billboards. It is
not an art form commonly practised in UK, although Bansksy has memorably
experimented with the medium on the Ladbroke Grove and Portobello
Road railway bridges. Agnes B. herself was once a patron of the Ripoulins
and in the late 80s the Town Hall of Paris was so impressed by their
work they offered them a large number of billboards and they invited
over the likes of Keith Haring from USA to help them cover the city
in specially commissioned posters.
Celebrating their 20th Anniversary the Ripoulins created 13 new site
specific bespoke works for the large double sided display panels in
the Courtyard exhibition space at Westbourne Studios.
Collectively the paintings recalled Picasso’s Guernica or James
Rosenquist’s F111 in scale, originality, and thrilling dynamism.
Individually, Bla Bla Bla’s Matisse-style graffiti comic cuts,
Ox’s pop art abstractions, Manhu’s sinewy trompe l’oeils,
3 Carre’s crossword/surreal riddles and Nina Childress’s
computer screen minimalism engaged in a dancing dialogue that breezily
dominated the giant, sub-Westway space of the Westbourne atrium.
The Ripoulins’ work uniformly performs the magic trick of hidden
shapes, formulas, and forms contained within unexpectedly revealing
The Object Orchestra Of Leipzig
Another Continental contribution was "The Object Orchestra".
Four years ago at the Portobello Film Festival an artists collective
from Germany, Terminal, had contributed a group exhibition, and from
their ranks has been born "The Object Orchestra". The Object
Orchestra record natural sounds – chairs being moved, doors
opening, glasses placed on a table, table football machines - from
a room, in this case the Westbourne Studios atrium, and place small
speakers by the source of the sounds and then replay the sounds from
a central control desk comprising 2 G4 laptops. The sampled sounds
create weird rhythms within the room and the public is unaware of
what is natural and what is recorded. Because the orchestra is in
full control of the sounds many moods from restful to funky can be
created. Sound sculpture at it’s most satisfying.
Joe Rush & The Mutoid Waste Company
West London artist Joe Rush makes giant metal sculptures out of scrap
motor parts. The founder of the Mutoid Waste Company, who have been
creating deliriant site specific environments all over Europe for
the past 20 years, Joe is currently collaborating with Damien Hirst
on bronze casts of his work. For the Portobello Film Festival he produced
two large female figures and a huge black centaur made up from motor
cycle parts never exhibited before, sited harmoniously beside the
Ripoulin pieces in the Westbourne exhibition space. Joe’s influences
range from 2000AD comic to Mad Max and from Transformers to heavy
metal, but his forms are remarkably graceful and recall a more elegant
age before the hysteria of Conceptualism and disposable Brit Art.
Another West London artist, Gordon McHarg, presented his life size
Charles Saatchi waxwork, Him, which vastly amused and entertained
the Westbourne audience. So lifelike indeed was the sculpture that
many people thought it was a real person performing a static mime.
Gordon also brought along one of his giant inflatable gonchons: a
large blue amorphous comic figure with a gormless smile that particularly
appealed to very young children.
Joe and Gordon had previously been working on both the Glastonbury
and the Japanese Fuji Festival and afterwards contributed to Gaz Mayall’s
Globe Café Stage at the Notting Hill Carnival.
Knockabout Comics are based a few doors down from Westbourne Studios
under the Westway and exhibited a collection of images from Robert
Crumb’s My Problems With Women, satirically chronicling the
artists troubled adolescence, subsequent fame and anxieties and sexual
fantasies, from a book that was once prosecuted under the Obscene
Publications Act (found not guilty). This is one of Crumb’s
most hilarious works, confirming him as a modern day Hogarth or Chaucer.
Moving effortlessly between the worlds of fine art, rock and roll,
questionable taste, sublime beauty, and astonishing craftsmanship
is the work of Chris Cunningham: music video director, star of the
Royal Academy Apocalypse exhibition, and favourite of both Advertising
creatives and avante garde filmmakers. Chris has only given one public
talk before in his whole career before. He screened a special cut
of Rubber Johnny and some new work and undertook a lengthy and good
humoured Q&A with the audience as part of Portobello Film Festival
2005. Covering many bases from technical to historical to aesthetic
he also revealed his current feature film projects…one a children’s
The occasion was heavily over-attended and queues snaked all the way
around the Westbourne Studios Courtyard with the audience waiting
patiently to be let in, bearing witness to the increasing public popularity
of leftfield work.
Chris’ participation was complimented by a programme of films
from his distributors, Warp Films And Records (including a showing
of Shane Meadows’ wonderful Dead Man’s Shoes and Chris
Morris’ My Wrongs), and a mesmerising Final Cut Pro- computer
editing system - Demonstration by senior technical consultant at Apple
Europe, Byron Wijawardena.
Al & Al
Maggie Ellis from Film London hosted a Q&A and screening of up
and coming video artists Al & Al. Al & Al work from a blue
screen studio in the East End creating visceral and amazingly beautiful
and complex virtual reality worlds including the latest video for
Andy Bell. Combining the sci fi special FX of Star Wars with psychedelia
and a nightclub sensibility, Al & Al are clearly set to be the
Gilbert & George of the new multimedia millennium.
Video Art inc. RCA & BowieArt
A large amount of video art was screened at the Festival 2005. The
last Saturday was non stop artists work in the moving image from 2pm
to 11pm including European work from Holland’s Arno Coenen,
who came over to introduce it, and Sweden’s Lena Mattson. Other
highlights included this year’s RCA Design Graduates show introduced
by the students themselves and an hour of BowieArt. BowieArt.com is
David Bowie’s on line gallery for young British artists working
in the moving image and features pieces from many Goldsmiths and St
Martins students covering a wide and wild spectrum of styles.
It is sometimes difficult to draw a line between contemporary animation/music
videos/computer graphics and fine art, so the Festival screens it
all anyway. Particularly impressive this year were contributions from
Addictive TV, Ninja Tunes (who give directors small budgets but complete
artistic control) and refugees from Lucasfilms (Oedipus performed
by kitchen vegetables and Revelations- a Star Wars spin off).
A special new prize sponsored by Apple, a copy of Final Cut Pro HD,
was awarded to Best Artists Work In Moving Image at The Elecric Cinema
on August 23 and went to Chi Yu for Supervixens 2 which contained
elements of Russ Meyer, Hong Kong Kung Fu, Clockwork Orange and Carmina
Burana in a disturbing but exciting visceral way that recalled Chris
Cunningham and Francis Bacon.
Jamie Hewlett & Gorillaz
Other paintings on display at Westbourne included Op Art from Colette
Moray De Morand, felt pen on cardboard Egyptian spoof by our skull
logo designer Mark Jackson, and Jamie Hewlett’s giant Zombie
Flesh Eaters mural on the first floor.
Jamie is the genius behind Tank Girl and the Gorillaz cartoon band.
Despite a busy schedule (the Festival coincided with the release of
the new Gorillaz album Dark Days, upon which the financial survival
of EMI no less depended). Jamie also designed this year’s PortobelloFilm
Festival programme cover – featuring Gorillaz in the mist in
an alley behind Westbourne Studios with Trellick Tower in the background,
and provided us with the Complete Gorillaz video selection–
including a lot of unreleased footage - to show on the Megascreen
in the park as part of our special Sunday VJ Convention on 14 August.
VJ Convention w/ Hexstatic, Exceeda &
VJs, or video jockeys, are artists wh o mix moving images, usually
as a backdrop to bands at big festivals or at nightclubs. The Portobello
Film Festival gave them a 20 ft megascreen to perform their work live
in Emslie Horniman’s Park W10 – where the steel band competition
happens at Carnival. In addition to the Gorillaz oeuvre, the Festival
also screened DVDs from Addictive TV featuring Giles Thacker’s
Mellowtrones and Hexstatic’s 3D Masterview (complete with 3D
spex) before a live set co-ordinated by Ben Mason, Red Dog. Ben is
currently being sponsored by Pioneer to demonstrate their new VJ decks
that allow VJs to mix and scratch DVDs in the same way DJs mix and
Stuart from Hexstatic (Exact Shit) kicked off the live sets with a
mad mix of mostly 70s pop videos downloaded from the internet: Olivia
Newton John collided with Earth Wind & Fire, the Police collided
with Dire Straights, Toni Basil collided with Diana Ross. After a
couple of wet days in the park, Stuart got the audience up and dancing
to this special “party mix”.
Next up was Exceeda, dressed for the part in Guantanamo Bay style
boiler suits and goggles, with their unique found image and computer
generated hypnotic mash ups, and the VJ Convention was rounded off
with a sublime set from Red Dog himself who proved images can be sensitive
and seductive as well as robotic and even occasionally political.
This is surely an art form for the future and Portobello Film Festival
was honoured to provide a launching pad.
ELECTRIC CINEMA AWARDS CEREMONY
The Festival reached it’s climax at The Electric Cinema on 23
August with the Awards Ceremony held before a specially invited audience
of filmmakers, supporters, sponsors, press and subscribers. JVC presented
a brand new digital hard drive camera to Best Film Director Rudi Fieldgrass
for Love Struck, a
gritty, witty, streetwise look at love and kickboxing. JVC also presented
VHS/DVD combis to Best Director, Best Comedy, and Best Documentary.
Best Director was Max Day for his astonishing adaption of Shakespeare’s
Richard 111, set in a druggy sink Brighton Housing Estate. Best Comedy
went to Ann Cattrall for Face Ache about a man whose facial spots
help him solve crimes. Best Documentary was awarded to James Goldcrown
for To Die No More, a very moving look at the wonderful people who
look after abandoned AIDS babies in South Africa without any government
or charity funding.
Guesthouse West presented Jason Wishnow from Long Beach California
with a luxury weekend for 2 with meal at their chic boutique hotel
on Westbourne Grove for Best Animation-Oedipus performed by kitchen
Apple Europe presented the latest Final Cut Editing software to Karan
Kandhari for Best Cinematography, Bye Bye Miss Goodnight, filmed with
a digital camera on the nighttime streets of Bombay, and Best Artists
Work In Moving Image to Chi Yu for Victim 2: Supervixens. Chi Yu is
the first person to win two Awards in the 10 years of the Portobello
Jonathan Barnett – Director
Leona Flude – Coordinator
Raymond Myndiuk – Programmer
Geoff Mann – Subscriptions
Andy McCafferty – Photography
Thomas Szabo - Website
Paolo Piselli - Troubleshooter
Kathryn Halstead - Assistant Coordinator
Edwin John -Industry Outreach
Michael Vassell - IT
Dave Pitts – Electrics
Carol St John – Market Research
Phil Underwood (Positive) - Design
Arts Council England, Campden Charities, Film London, UK Film Council,
Royal Borough Kensington And Chelsea, Golbourne United SRB, Sure Start
Golbourne, Westbourne Studios, Workspace Group, Apple Europe, Time
Out, JVC, Cobra Beer, Electric House, Paradise Bar, Inn On The Green,
Cobden Club, Guesthouse West, Westway Development Trust, Kensington
& Chelsea Community History Group and ACAVA