Now, at last! by Ben Rivers (Screening)
The analysis of animal locomotion was one of cinema’s original moments, a matter of both scientific inquiry and aesthetic fascination. Eadweard Muybridge captured the activities of horses, humans and other beasts through mechanical interventions in the late nineteenth century, isolating their movements to illustrate that which would otherwise elude our vision. More recently, Ben Rivers has achieved a related, if inverse, effect, allowing the viewer to enter, via film, the time scale of another species.
Now, at Last! by Ben Rivers is an endearing portrait of the slowest animal in the jungle, an appropriately unhurried 16mm portrait of a Costa Rican sloth’s pendulous existence. It captures a state of wonder shared by some of the earliest films in the history of cinema, the awe of seeing reality unfolding in front of you. For forty languid minutes, we observe the sloth as she sleeps, from time to time moving but mostly hanging, or indefinitely between these states. From the minimalism of the black and white image, we move onto images shown in tricolor separation, exaggerating the slowness and shaking our senses, accompanied by The Righteous Brothers singing extra-diegetically.
Ben Rivers’ films embody the love/hate relationship between the worlds of cinema and visual art. His practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction, and explores the boundaries between disparate genres: horror, science fiction, ethnographic documentary, thriller, noir.
His films are typically intimate portrayals of solitary beings or isolated communities, imaginary places peopled by disturbing figures and apparitions that seem to emerge from a dark past, recalling both science fiction and exoticism.
This screening is supported by the British Council.