As a domestic format Super8 was wiped out by the rise of the camcorder, but it is still around and used by filmmakers and artists the world over – it’s the gauge that wouldn’t die!
These six films show Super8 in all its dirty beauty, and highlight the love affair between the streets, Super8 and transgressive music – enjoy…. g.p.
This Is A History Of New York (The Golden Dark Age Of Reason) Jem Cohen ( USA, video from Super8, 1987, 20 mins)
From Prehistoric Times through to the Space Age, illustrated entirely with documentary street footage, shot on Super 8. Divided into seven sections, the film concentrates on the interaction between street life and architecture. Occasional commentary is provided by the street people: preachers, homeless persons, various survivors – and integrated into an intricate soundtrack of music (ranging from Gregorian Chant to Gabriel Cohen’s original compositions) and ambient sound.
Jimmy’s Ballet Jaap Pieters (NL, 35mm from Super8, 3 mins, 1993)
Observation of a homeless Surinam man, who provides himself with a new task or function over and over again. In this situation, he ‘arranges’ the traffic in such an elegant & subtly refined way that it works as a modern ballet.. Filmed except for 20 sec. in one take one S8 roll from the same apartment. No sound.
Guerillère Talks Vivenne Dick (IRL, video from Super8, 24 mins, 1978)
Fresh from Ireland and having no experience of making films, Vivienne Dick’s arrival in NYC landed her right in the middle of a punk revolution. This, her first film, uses eight rolls of Kodak sound Super-8 film to profile eight women in real time and without any editing. The ‘subjects’ include Pat Place and Adele Bertei, former band members of the Contortions, as well as Lydia Lunch, singer, guitarist, film-star and punk doyenne who would also appear in later films.
De Blikjesman (The Tin Can Man ) Jaap Pieters (NL, 35mm from Super8, 3 mins, 1991 )
Collecting as a profound human characteristic, as well as the Sisyphus in all of us, is to be seen in the Tincanman who, as an “unadapted” stranger in this society, takes his own actions and work extremely seriously. It doesn’t seem to bother him that this work (as all work) grows out of a permanent repetition.
Patti Smith: Long For The City Jem Cohen (USA, video from Super8, 9 mins, 2008 )
A portrait of Patti Smith, shot in the city where she lives. Patti recites the very first poem-song she ever wrote, and then a later one.. Footage was shot in the moment, as well as drawn from the archives Cohen has gathered over many years.
TG Physic Rally In Heaven Derek Jarman ( UK, 16mm from Super 8, 9 mins, 1981)
Known mainly for his feature films (Caravaggio, The Garden, The Tempest, etc), Jarman was a lifelong maker of Super 8 films. Here we see a dark strobing, almost abstracted portrait of Genesis P-Orridge and his band ‘Throbbing Gristle’ performing live at the Heaven club in a post punk apocalyptic London…