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Cluster index: Simon Collings

Telling it for ourselves.

Simon Collings: ‘The various festivals within the African continent, and across Europe and North America, have always been key to how these films reach an audience, mirroring the experience of independent cinema generally. But the availability of films through online streaming services is expanding access.’

Labyrinth of artifice.

Simon Collings: ‘Some of the invention in Simó’s film perhaps derives from Buñuel himself. Always cagey about his Communist affiliations, the director would for many years deny he’d ever been a party member. In 1939 he wrote a short ‘autobiography’, a curriculum vitae intended to support his search for work in the USA where he had fled at the outbreak of the Second World War.’

Poetry in paragraphs.

Simon Collings: ‘”The Prose Poem Now” takes us from the present back to 2000, “The Postmodern Prose Poem” covers the second half of the twentieth century, and “The Modern Prose Poem” covers the century from the 1940s back to 1842.’

A box to go.

Simon Collings: ‘The medieval casket is, like Dilworth’s sculpture, made of whalebone. Its sides and top are carved with scenes from Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Germanic traditions, accompanied by runic inscriptions in Old English and Latin. Scholars differ in their interpretations of the casket’s significance and likely uses. It’s an enigmatic object, the selection of images and texts which adorn it capable of multiple interpretations.’

Atlantics.

Simon Collings: ‘Diop treats the migration story obliquely. It’s the background to the film not its central focus. Corrupt labour practices, unemployment, police bribes, and the tensions between an older, socially conservative, generation and the young, dominate the narrative. It is those who remain, and in particular Ada, who take centre stage.’

George, what is Fluxus?

Simon Collings: ‘In one of the clips Mekas comments: ‘Warhol and George, Warhol and Fluxus, somewhere there, very deep, they were the same. They were both Fluxus, both dealt essentially with nothingness. Both dismissed the current life civilization, everything that is being practised today, everything is the same, didn’t take any of it seriously. Both took life as a game, and laughed at it, each in his own way.’’

Six quite short stories.

Simon Collings: ‘The American academic Wendell G. Beresford appeared to have solved the mystery in 1903 when he put forward the theory that Crusoe had simply made a “slip of the pen” in a moment of distraction, having no doubt intended to write “pelican”‘

In Fabric.

Simon Collings: ‘[Peter Strickland’s] new film revolves around a haunted red dress. Sheila works as a bank clerk. She’s a single mum, separated from her husband and raising their teenage son Vince. She’s looking for a new relationship, through the lonely hearts ads in the local paper, and buys a red dress, in a sale at the local department store, to wear on a date. It proves a fatal choice.’

Existence and its discontents.

Simon Collings: ‘Capernaum shares with its predecessor a concern with social crisis, but here Labaki employs the conventions of ‘realism’ as the primary means of rendering her subject, though the film is not entirely ‘real’. This is not a ‘true story’. The suing of the parents is a dramatic device Labaki uses to structure her material, and its fictionality has something of the fairy-tale quality of Where do we go from here? There are also comic moments in the film which have an air of the fantastical. ‘

Five poets remark on prose poetry.

Peter Riley: ‘To avoid endless problems of definition, it would help if they were called “short prose pieces”, which is one thing they undeniably are. This was Eliot’s idea (who hated them). ‘

Six very short stories.

Simon Collings: ‘I had no choice but to follow the general advance as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by trying to force a way through. I could see up ahead a neon sign with the name of my hotel on it, though I didn’t remember the hotel being on this street. Perhaps there were two hotels with the same name, I thought. I was sure mine had been on a side street. I had no means of checking of course, and in fact I was no longer sure what the name of my hotel was.’

Family discounts.

Simon Collings: ‘Some sections of Japanese society were appalled when Kore-eda declined an invitation to meet the Education Minister after “Shoplifters” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Others applauded his wish to maintain a distance from government. The film does raise complex questions about what constitutes a “family” and what it is the country’s laws are defending and protecting. ‘

Typesetters’ delight, those little blocks of text.

Simon Collings: ‘So what might be some of the factors which have contributed to recent changes in British prose poetry? One important element, as David Caddy points out in his overview chapter, is that since the 1960s there has been an active community of poets working in prose formats, their practice influenced by developments in American and European poetry. ‘

Agnès Varda’s ‘Faces Places’.

Simon Collings: ‘The people who feature in the documentary are mostly the everyday citizens of France, neither superstars nor the extreme poor – though we do meet an elderly man, called Pony, who lives in a shack and makes art from found objects. But some of Varda’s perennial concerns are still there, and are clearly shared by JR. She notices that goats are having their horns burned off to make them more ‘productive’. We meet a woman with a herd of horned goats who believes animals should be respected and left as they are. Varda and JR like this woman.’

Four prose pieces.

Simon Collings: ‘The doctor turned out to be an ex-lover who I hadn’t seen for some time. She asked me if I was free for dinner, and suggested we continue the consultation at her apartment, to which I readily agreed. The building where she lived was close by. ‘