Beursschouwburg ︎ Het Bos


We start out the fourth edition of the Visite Film Festival at Beursschouwburg. The opening night takes place with our friends from the Brussels campus of the LUCA School of Arts. Filmmaker John Smith opens the evening with his Hotel Diaries, accompanying it with the inspiring film Unsere Afrikareise, by Peter Kubelka.

HOTEL DIARIES (2001-2007) by John Smith (82')

“On October 8th 2001, a few weeks after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Centre and two days after the USA and Britain started bombing Afghanistan, I was at the Cork Film Festival in Ireland. Returning to my hotel room late at night, I switched on the television, intending to catch up on the latest news. Expecting to see a moving image, I was surprised to discover that the close-up of a man’s face that filled the screen was completely still, frozen in time. I watched the screen for several minutes but nothing changed, and the clock in the corner of the screen remained stopped at 1.41. What was happening? Why wasn’t the image moving? Worried and confused, I picked up my video camera and attempted to talk about what was going on inside my head. I had no idea at the time that this spontaneous recording was the start of a project that would occupy me for the next six years.

Made over six years in the hotels of six different countries, ‘HOTEL DIARIES’ charts the 'War on Terror' era of Bush and Blair through a series of video recordings that relate personal experiences to the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel/Palestine. In these works, which play upon chance and coincidence, the hotel room is employed as a 'found' film set, where the architecture, furnishing and decoration become the means by which my own small adventures are linked to major world events.” 
- John Smith

UNSERE AFRIKAREISE (1966) by Peter Kubelka (12' )

In 1961 Peter Kubelka was asked to make a documentary about a group of white Europeans on an African hunting trip. He accompanied them, recorded many hours of film and sound of the group having fun, shooting wildlife, and interacting with the natives. Kubelka spent five years editing this material into a most unconventional film.

“Whenever I am asked to select a single film that has inspired me, I find myself looking back, perhaps inevitably, to the work that I first saw in the early 1970s when, as a young art student, I started making my own films. Many film and video works have affected me deeply over the past forty-five years, but in a different way to those early, almost visceral, experiences of artists’ cinema. I’m talking of course about revelation, about discovering ways of looking and making that were entirely new to me.

At the start of ‘Unsere Afrikareise’ a passenger boat is seen meandering along an African river. A group of tourists relax on its deck, the wind in their hair, while voices recorded in another location can be heard conversing on the film’s soundtrack. This lazy scene is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a gunshot, at exactly the same moment as the wind blows away the hat of one of the tourists. When I watched Peter Kubelka’s film for the first time, at a college screening in 1972, I too was blown away. My sense of what cinema could and should be was radically altered, and I realised that documentary images and sounds could be subverted through editing to operate on numerous different levels. ‘Unsere Afrikareise’ is simultaneously an aesthetic tour de force and a damning critique of colonialist and orientalist mindsets – beautiful and ugly, funny and horrific, representational and abstract, all at the same time.”- John Smith