Saturday 3 March 2012

85a get Svanky

For Glasgow Film Festival 2012' "Crossing the line" program, 85A ecstatically present the work of genius Czech filmmaker, Jan Svankmajer, in all its demented glory! Each short film showcased this evening will be housed inside specially constructed theatres, coaxing his surreal imagery off the screen and into life before you!
Tailor-made installations, costumed performers, a cosy bar, all beckon you ‘down to the cellar’, and with the main cinema-space ultimately transforming into a thumping discothèque… a night at the megaplex, this is not! Přijít! Vidět! Slyšet!

85a are looking increasingly like the heirs to the great Glasgow Miracle - assuming that the anti-art law doesn't lead to a mass exodus of creatives to Berlin. A collective of talents based in the visual arts, 85a have been busy making films, building installations and events - including The Phantom Band's Christmas special at Stereo - and settled into The Glue Factory as a home. Svankmajer was a natural choice for them: surreal in his mixture of live action and animation, he gives personality and soul to inanimate objects without losing a dark, even sinister atmosphere. And while the film selections were imaginative and thrilling - his big hits like Alice were eschewed for a rounded retrospective - it was 85a's design of The Glue Factory that pulled away from the "night at the multiplex".

There's a palpable sense of occasion to the re-modelling of the space: one film is projected inside an old boiler, another in a home-made house. Grimm cabaret duo Louna introduce two programmes, before throwing down with an especially bloody number: affiliate Spud lends an electronic soundtrack to a tale of existential dread and humour. While Svankmajer's Prague is often the star of his shorts - as Missy Lorelei notes, The Ossuary is a twisted tourist advert - 85a make The Glue Factory a character in their play. Death, clad in monkish cloak and pale face, wanders around the rooms, collecting an audience for a special showing: that this seems normal, not surreal, is a testament to the thoroughness of 85a's vision.

Throughout the films, Svankmajer invites comparisons with Kafka, filtered through a sensibility informed by slap-stick comedy and compassion: yes, the universe is hostile and strange, but it can be funny to watch. Throughout the evening, 85a take the background of The Glue Factory - it's an old, disused space and has a health'n'safety nightmare vibe - and convert it into a fun palace for adults, with popcorn. 

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