Films screening (75 mins total running time) Sunday Oct 9, 7 pm


“You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”

River(s) brings together two films, photography and texts, by film makers Gillian McIver and Catia Ott. Each describes a river journey,on the Tiber through the city of Rome and down to the sea; the other on the River Volga in the heart of Russia. Each project was made independently and differently, yet despite their diversity of style and approach, they share a certain focus on the visual. Both films address the lived experience of the river journey, and on the role of cinema as a guiding principle in how to see the river itself.

River(s) consists of still photography, two books (Tarkovsky’s River by Gillian McIver and Tevere by Catia Ott, published by Parallel Project) and two films. The project can be experienced in a variety of ways: film screening, gallery exhibition or simply as books to be read.

Tevere (52 min) by Catia Ott is a boat trip – or an attempt at a boat trip – down the Tiber from the outskirts of Rome down to the old sea port. Tevere is narrated by a visitor to Rome, returning to the city after a long absence and wanting to see it from a different perspective to the one he thinks he knows too well, and seeks out the little-travelled river route, attempting to see the city with fresh eyes. Often his journey is frustrated: boats fail to materialise, or landing stages no longer exist, and sections of the water are inaccessible. But he persists, and in his journey we trace both the present city of Rome and its innumerable pasts, layer by layer as the flow of time is echoed by the flow of the river.

In Gillian McIver’s Tarkovsky’s River (15 min), time seems almost to have stood still. The film also traces a river journey, along the Volga to Yureyvets, the little town where the great film director, Andrey Tarkovsky was born and spent his childhood. Remote in a vast natural landscape, the town appears frozen in a post-Soviet stasis, aching with beauty yet falling apart. Yet life goes on and in the detailed exploration of the quotidian, the film seeks to reveal something about the nature of art and its origins in the nature of Man.

Both films have cinema as their guiding principle, embodied by seminal film directors. Tevere returns several times to Pier Paolo Pasolini, writer and director, who chronicled the “invisible” population of the the outcasts, the dispossessed, the poor who occupied the great city’s often-foul suburbs. The Tiber is haunted by the presence of the slain artist, as the film visits his former haunt and encounters those who knew him.

Tarkovsky’s River refers to a director whose work grappled with difficult ethical ,metaphysical and spiritual issues. But it is not only Andrey Tarkovsky who is being invoked here; his father, the poet Arseny Tarkovsky, lived in the town for many years. Tarkovsky’s River describes that intersection between poetry and image. Set up as an exploration of certain ideas expressed by Tarkovsky, the film explored the role of memory and the nature of cinema, as well as straightforwardly depicting everyday life in a remote and nondescript Russian town that time has forgotten. |