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October 3, 2011

The Return of Ben Rivers

The Harvard Film Archive welcomes back British experimental filmmaker and radical ethnographer Ben Rivers (b. 1972) for a screening of two recent works, Slow Action and Sack Barrow that extend his fascination with science fiction, travel and the interweaving of the fantastic and the quotidian.

Slow Action is a four-part microcosmic study of remote islands united by a certain uncanny logic of place and by the film's hypnotic documentary-style voiceover written by cult sci-fi author and art critic Mark von Schlegell. Journeying from the Canary Islands to Japan to Polynesia and then back to South West England, Rivers gradually reveals the larger associative constellation created by his overripe imagination which actively channels Robert Smithson, Hammer films and the heroic dream of National Geographic expeditions. Filmed in anamorphic 16mm, Slow Action "stretches" across space and time, reaching back to the geologic past while also pointing towards an uncertain and entropic future.

Sack Barrow, meanwhile, is a poetic essay on labor and history that captures the final shuttering of a pre-WWII factory for injured soldiers, following the routines of the last workers and work days and lingering afterwards. Rivers' obsession with the "outdated" – that which is anachronistic and yet somehow suspended out of time – finds renewed poignancy and enigma in the slow decay of the factory's Industrial Age machines. – Haden Guest

This program is presented in conjunction with the Film Study Center.

Special Event Tickets $12
Monday October 3 at 7pm

Slow Action

Directed by Ben Rivers, Appearing in Person.
UK 2010, 16mm, color & b/w, 45 min

Sack Barrow

Directed by Ben Rivers, Appearing in Person.
UK 2011, 16mm, color, 21 min

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700