Presenting 248 of the best new British and international films, the 58th London Film Festival champions London as the world’s leading creative city. This year’s line up sees the launch of UAL Professor of Film William Raban’s bold new film 72-82, which continues his ongoing examination of London’s stratified social geography, taking a fertile, creative scene in which William himself played a significant part as its subject. Solely using archival visual materials, he revisits the first ten years of art organization Acme, highlighting its work in housing artists in the East End and the extraordinary work that was produced.
The powerful archival footage in 72-82 incorporates Stephen Cripps’ pyrotechnic displays, an abrasive Anne Bean music performance and Stuart Brisley’s politically charged action ‘Ten Days’. Interviewees include Cosey Fanni Tutti, Jock McFadyen and David Critchley. William reflects on the nature of ‘evidence’ while a very particular vision of creative activity emerges – one based on devoted experimentation, location specificity and process.
Speaking ahead of the film’s premiere, William says: “72-82 was edited at LCC on Saturdays and holidays when the facilities were closed to students – hence the credit to UAL and LCC at the end. Anna Jurkowiecka edited the film with me. She graduated from our Film and Television Course at LCC in 2012 and as soon as she left she edited my first digital production with me and the two others that followed. It is great to be able to employ ex-students and to ensure they get properly paid for their work and with LCC graduates you know that you are employing an aspiring professional. Because the film was assembled entirely from archive materials it was really an intensive editing job that took 18 months to complete.”
“The image above is of Stephen Cripps’ performance which is one of the highlights of the film. Stephen Cripps tragically died aged 29 in 1982. I filmed one of his last pyrotechnic performances at the Acme Gallery in 1981 from which this is a still. I think my film is the only surviving film documentation of Cripps’s performance work. Stephen Cripps has now been belatedly recognised as one of the leading artists of his generation and inspired the legendary Bow Gamelan Ensemble comprising Anne Bean, Richard Wilson and the late Paul Burwell.”
William Raban sees the film screen as both the window for external projection as well as a mirror through which the process of film construction is reflected and the space where spectators can reflect upon their engagement. His career in the early 1970s developed through the London Filmmakers’ Co-op with structural filmmaking and expanded cinema. The opening programme of the Tanks at Tate Modern (2012) recognized the significance of Raban’s contribution to expanded cinema by commissioning a one week Filmaktion event in 2012 in which Raban was a key contributor showing early multi-screen films and the new installation Duchamp’s Dissent. All his films adopt an experimental method in terms of their formal construction that is combined with a rigorous factual approach to the subject material.
For the last 30 years, Raban’s research has been largely concerned with making films in the visual essay and poetic documentary form. London and the River Thames have been two consistent themes in his work since the feature length Thames Film in 1986.
William says: “”I am delighted 72-82 has its premiere at the London International Film Festival. It is an excellent platform from which to launch the film and hopefully it will be showing at many festivals abroad and who knows, might even be shown on television. The London Film Festival screening is sold out but you can catch the film at LCC on 23 October and following the film I shall be in conversation with artist Richard Wilson who continues his sculptural investigations in a similar way that the radical artists at the Acme Gallery did in the late 70s which is what my film is all about.”
Commenting on William Raban’s influential role, UAL Chair of Global Art, Isaac Julien said: “This position at UAL has a lot of personal meaning for me. I studied Fine Art Film at St. Martins in the 80s and it was here that I made Territories for my graduation show under the influence of tutors such as William Raban, Tina Keane and Malcolm Le Grice. That same film is now in the Pompidou Collection, in large part thanks to the close support I had in making it over thirty years ago.”
The Festival also sees the premiere of A Little Chaos; directed by Alan Rickman, the film stars Drama Centre alumna Helen McCrory in a tale of social intrigue set in the Court of King Louis XIV.
The BFI London Film Festival runs until 19 October. Read the full programme on the BFI website
Find out more about the 72-82 screening and in conversation event on the UAL website
Read more about London College of Communication Professor of Film William Raban on the UAL website
Search film and performance courses on the UAL website