Although DaÃ¯chi SaÃ¯to and Malena Szlam are from opposite sides of the planet, they share the same love for experimental cinema. The independent filmmakers were recently chosen to be the new directors of CinemaSpace’s annual programming series. Crossover- Enchanted Light: Super 8mm Films by Paul Clipson is the first of three events at the Segal Centre this yea. “It is a unique opportunity to get out of our usual Mile-End setting and be able to reach a wider audience,” SaÃ¯to said. SaÃ¯to hails from Japan and Szlam from Chilie, but they met right here in Montreal. The duo received master’s degrees in of fine arts at Concordia and went on to have flourishing careers.
Enchanted , SaÃ¯to said, refers to a poem by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. “Although there is no direct link between the content of Neruda’s work and our event, we wanted to use the same imagery, the poetic effect of the light,” he explained. This event takes place over two nights. During the first one, several short films by Clipson will be shown in the 77-seat screening room of the Segal Centre. The second night will be held in the bigger open space of the Centre where Clipson’s work will be shown on a big screen, while two musicians perform on a nearby stage.
Ultimately, explained SaÃ¯to, “The goal of CinemaSpace is to create bridges between cinema, visual and performing arts through its commitment to showcase a wide range of innovative works, to go beyond the boundaries of conventional cinema.” With this in mind they organized three different events: Crossover, Lightstruck and Parallax views.
For Crossover, SaÃ¯to and Szlam wanted to find a filmmaker who integrated another form of art into his movies. They approached San Francisco-based artist Paul Clipson because of his talent and previous experience with mixing live music and film projections together.
“I was introduced to his work two years ago and I was like “Wow!’ This stuff is incredible!” said SaÃ¯to. “Clipson, even though his films are plays of light and shapes, manages to touch the viewers’ emotions.”
Clipson likes to improvise with his camera. By using close-ups, long shots and different lighting captured by the highly textured format of 8 mm film, he creates a dreamlike atmosphere. His technique is inspired from the method of free writing, which means that when he starts to film he doesn’t have a precise plan. He also strives for spontaneity; most of his work isn’t edited at all. Clipson even keeps mistakes that bring more authenticity to his work.
Sound is the fulcrum of his art; he works in tight collaboration with many experimental musicians. “Clipson’s method of filming is unique,” said SaÃ¯to. “He directs his films as if he was composing music.”
As such, the co-director decided to find live musicians to interact with Clipson’s films. Finding the musicians wasn’t a strenuous process, as SaÃ¯to explained. “When we talked to Clipson about mixing his work with live music he insisted that we choose the musician Roger Tellier-Craig.”
Tellier-Craig is the former guitarist of experimental band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He now works on a solo electro project called Le rÃ©vÃ©lateur. Tellier-Craig also suggested the other performer, Bernardino Femminielli, whose highly experimental music is rich in synthesized and ambient noise. Although their performance will be largely improvised, the musicians had the opportunity to see the projection in advance and compose a basic musical structure. “The mix between the music and the projection will provide a feeling of intimacy and spontaneity to the viewer,” explained SaÃ¯to.
Crossover – Enchanted Light: Super-8mm Films by Paul Clipson runs Jan. 26 and 27 at the Segal Centre, 5170 CÃ´te-Ste-Catherine St.