Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Super 8 at Alchemy + Motion to Scottish Parliament

Press Release for Avant Kinema (Sarahjane Swan & Roger Simian)'s performance at this year's Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival


May The Fourth Be With You!

Borders artist-filmmakers, Sarahjane Swan & Roger Simian, return to the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival this coming Friday, 4th May, with "Ghost Worlds (Animal Rites)", an Expanded Cinema performance, part of the festival's free-entry "Celebrate Super 8" event at the Auld Baths.

Sarahjane: "We've been experimenting with analogue filmmaking for a couple of years now and we've turned into a couple of Super 8 Geeks. It's shocking! We buy up long-expired filmstock on ebay, shoot our films using vintage cameras, do our own processing using household products and even handcraft the footage by directly colouring and scratching the film itself."

Roger: "Yeah, a year or two ago we uploaded an instructional video to our Avant Kinema YouTube page. It's basically our step-by-step guide to home-processing Super 8 film using the Caffenol recipe (cheap coffee, vitamin c & washing soda). We just discovered the other day that it's had 10,600 views! We had no idea. So that means there's at least 10,600 other Super 8 Geeks out there wanting to spend their days setting up Pop-Up Super 8 labs in their kitchens and bathrooms."

Sarahjane: "It's a growing trend. Anybody can shoot a full HD, high resolution video on their mobile - that's easy! - but it takes determination and dedication to use all these old, abandoned 20th century technologies, filmstocks and techniques to create something fresh and vivid."

Roger: "We've had some great help in this from VACMA (the Visual Artists and Craft Maker Awards) who gave us a grant to buy more filmstock and equipment, including a telecine machine so that we can make digital scans of our films."

The pair also recently received support from an unlikely source when local MSP, Michelle Ballantyne, put forward a motion relating to their work in the Scottish Parliament.

Motion S5M-09501, lodged 12/12/17:"That the Parliament wholeheartedly applauds the film-makers, Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian, both of Galashiels, on being shortlisted for the 2018 Margaret Tait Award; believes that the Margaret Tait Award is the pinnacle of experimental moving image art in Scotland; is aware that the eponymous award is in honour of Margaret Tait, the eminent Orcadian film-maker, who died in 1999; recognises that Swan and Simian have screened films throughout the UK, Europe and North America in 2017 alone, and extends its emphatic best wishes to them in their pursuit of the award and for the future."

Sarahjane: "We were quite blown away when we discovered that on line. We couldn't work out how it had happened, but we're honoured to have our work highlighted in this way."

Roger: "Yes, we're more than happy to accept the support of the Scottish Parliament in our filmmaking endeavours."

Swan and Simian are joined in the "Celebrate Super 8" event by Dutch filmmaker, Jaap Pieters, and Canadian, Kyle Whitehead.

Sarahjane: "We were also invited by Alchemy to host a couple of workshops with local kids on how to put together a video-art installation, along with film-artist, Kerry Jones. It's mindblowing to see the young talent out there. The kids have a real understanding of what makes a good artwork and have come up with some great visual and conceptial material for their installation at the Alchemy Festival."

Fr@gile, by the Young Alchemy Moving Image Makers, is presented between the 3rd tand 6th May, 11am to 6pm, at the Alchemy Space, 39-41A High Street, Hawick, TD9 9BU. The installation "explores communication throughout the analogue and digital ages – the barriers we face expressing ourselves in everyday life and how we perceive and translate words and actions into our own understanding." The project was funded by Cash Back for Communities and Youthlink Scotland.

Swan-Simian Website:

Avant Kinema blog:

Avant Kinema on Vimeo:

Avant Kinema Group on FaceBook:

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