Bunch Of Fives: Daniel Appleby (Sunderland Film Club) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Not-for-profit community cinema Sunderland Film Club have moved to the city’s creative hub and historic pub, The Peacock, to screen the most inventive and expressive work in contemporary documentary cinema. This inclusive event has been funded and supported by Cinema for All and the British Film Institute (BFI) and kicks off  on 26th January with one of the most formally inventive, emotionally devastating films of the past 20 years – The Arbor by Clio Barnard. Tickets are £3 ADV and available here.

Ahead of the event, organiser Daniel Appleby picks his top five experimental documentaries…

The Arbor – Clio Barnard
The first film to be screened as part of Sunderland Film Club also happens to be my favourite documentary ever. Andrea Dunbar’s story – a life marred by abuse, violence and addiction – is undoubtedly tragic. In Clio Barnard’s hand’s it becomes a portrait of not only an individual, but a family, and an entire community at large. It completely changed my conception of what documentary and art could be.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening – RaMell Ross
I had the pleasure of watching Hale County, and Q and A with director RaMell Ross, at Tyneside Cinema in 2019. A poetic, lyrical film dense with intimate, revelatory moments. Sweat dripping onto a gym mat; father and sons t-shirts billowing in the wind of an incoming storm; a young boy looks up shyly into the camera from the passenger seat of a car. Images that stayed with me days and weeks after leaving the cinema.

Rat Film – Theo Anthony
“Before the world became the world it was an egg. Inside the egg was dark. The rat nibbled the egg and let the light in. And the world began.” Theo Anthony weaves together the accounts of rat exterminators, enthusiasts and those who live among them to create a larger story of poverty, racism and historical segregation in Baltimore. Worth watching just for the eerie, dreamy score by Dan Deacon.

Dawson City: Frozen Time – Bill Morrison
In 1978, 533 nitrate film reels were discovered beneath the permafrost of a decommissioned swimming pool in Dawson City, Yukon. Bill Morrison uses these reels to tell the story of Dawson City; at first home of Canada’s native people, before becoming a Goldrush boomtown, and eventually an industrial wasteland. As with all Morrison films the tactility and fragility of film as medium is explored, resulting in some beautiful, haunting images.

HyperNormalisation – Adam Curtis
Adam Curtis’s best films in his career-long exploration of power. One of the few filmmakers to make you want to watch a near 3 hour long documentary entirely made of archive footage. A Wikipedia deep dive in filmic form.

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