Chris Kennedy

“The Train of Shadows.” March 6, 2018

Europe’s continuing crisis of conscience around the influx of economic and political migrants is a central theme of this programme. Nika Autor, this year’s Slovenian representative at the Venice Biennale, and her colleagues in Obzorniška Fronta (Newsreel Front) have proven themselves to be vital inheritors of Chris Marker and the Groupe Medvedkine’s tradition of filmic political protest. The group’s Newsreel 63: The Train of Shadows deconstructs the filmic representation of migration by using images of trains throughout cinema history to contextualize phone footage taken by refugees riding the undercarriage of a train as they clandestinely enter Slovenia. Newsreel 62 reflects on the participation of two Syrian artists in a 1966 Yugoslavian art show celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showcasing the relative ease with which objects (as opposed to people) can pass across borders.

In Beneath a Starless Sky as Dark and Thick as Ink, the Serbian collective Doplgenger applies a science-fiction format to 1960s-era footage of Yugoslav temporary migrant labourers in transit to Western Europe, in an inquiry about how these movements reflect on the situation today. Bookending the programme are Guy Sherwin’s time-lapse film Night Train and Jennifer Saparzadeh’s Nu Dem, a poetic film about exile and movement that returns yet again to the Balkan train yards that are a locus for both the Newsreel Front and Doplgenger videos.

Night Train
dir. Guy Sherwin | UK 1979 | 2 min. | 16mm
Newsreel 63: The Train of Shadows
dirs. Nika Autor & Obzorniška Fronta | Slovenia 2017 | 38 min. | Digital
Beneath a Starless Sky as Dark and Thick as Ink
dir. Doplgenger | Serbia 2016 | 15.5 min. | Digital
Newsreel 62
dir. Obzorniška Fronta | Slovenia 2017 | 11 min. | Digital
Nu Dem
dir. Jennifer Saparzadeh | USA 2017 | 9 min. | 16mm on Digital