It’s always a pleasure to learn about a new film society in London, especially one that chooses its films with as much care and originality as the Screen Shadows group, whose inaugural season includes some notable silents. The F is for Fake season features, on 18 November, Robert J Flaherty’s hit documentary Nanook of the North (1922) in a special double-bill.
We have decided to pair Nanook of the North with The Girl Chewing Gum, a 1976 experimental work by John Smith. Although from different genres and eras, both films work very well together to say something about our current theme: fakery in film. As part of our commitment to encouraging new ways of thinking about film, as much as the screening of overlooked films or the screening of films in areas underserved by the usual channels of film exhibition, the session will be introduced by a guest speaker, AL Rees from the Royal College of Art.
And on 2 December, as part of the same season, Screen Shadows will show Pudovkin’s monumental Storm Over Asia (1928), another film that raises interesting questions about authenticity:
The literally translated Russian title “The Heir to Genghis Khan” indicates the incitement to atavistic struggle that drives Pudovkin’s measured and resolute move beyond the film-mythologies of the Bolshevik revolution, in this historically charged epic based on a story of two unconnected thefts and one mistaken identity. How does a young Mongol fur-trader rebel and come to political consciousness? And just what does an Imperial British army garrison and trading outpost hope to gain by exploiting the falsehood that has come to define their captive? … How might implying a direct genealogical link between a twentieth-century Mongol fur trader and the twelfth-century Golden Horde inform a critique of imperialism in the Far-East, and what does this say about the cinema’s role in promulgating the myth of a culturally sensitive, ‘benevolent’ Soviet expansionism?
Nanook of the North screens at Oxford House, Bethnal Green E2 6HG on 18 November 2011 and Storm Over Asia on 2 December 2011. Entry is £7 or £5 (concessions and Tower Hamlets residents). The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green. For more details visit the Screen Shadows website.