CPH:DOX reveals the nominees in the artistic competition NEW:VISION!

The full line-up for CPH:DOX 2017 will be announced March 1.

13 films are nominated in the NEW:VISION 2017 competition, which presents ground-breaking experiments in the area between documentary and artistic reflection.

The films in NEW: VISION are all world premieres. The films are particularly characterised by being of an international  and experimental character, as are the heritages of their directors. Some are known for their work with documentary film, others for their work in the art world. The nominees therefore reflect themselves best what the NEW:VISION competition is about, that is the examination of the distinctive field located between film and art.

See all the competition nominees here

The winner of the NEW VISION Award 2017 will be selected by a jury and announced at CPH:DOX’s Award Ceremony on Friday, March 24 at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The winner will receive 5,000€.

The nominees are:

Common Carrier (James Kienitz Wilkins. USA). World premiere.

Artists live in a kind of permanent state of emergency. The are never fully integrated into the rest of society, but never completely isolated from it either. A precarious livelihood, rich in both uncertainty and freedom, which the American filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins leads to its logical conclusion in ‘Common Carrier’, where situations and characters float in and out of each other like digital phantoms on the fringes of New York’s arts scene. Here, a screenwriter, an art collector and an urban shaman are struggling with the role that their social position has attributed to them. Identity and performance are ephemeral qualities in the ritual role play, but the realities behind it all are still just as mundane as an invoice from the tax collector. James N. Kienitz Wilkins (‘Public Hearing’, CPH:DOX 2012) has distinguished himself as one of the most original young names on the American film scene, thanks to a series of works that employ both sociological acuity and ironic wit to deal with topics such as civilised conflicts, social identity and performance.

Purge This Land (Lee Anne Schmitt. USA). World premiere.

The history of racism and slavery in modern America is retold in a gifted and highly topical film, which spans from the 1850s to present-day USA, where the traces of the past are still present in landscapes and cityscapes, on gable paintings and in forgotten letters. And in the systemic violence that black Americans are still subjected to. John Brown – a white, militant activist and a fierce opponent of slavery – was sentenced to death in 1859 for a failed attempt to start an armed revolution. His story is a prism, through which the contemporary artist Lee Anne Schmitt’s beautiful and thought-provoking film takes a clear and sober look at the dark side of American history. The past is never dead, it is not even the past, as Faulkner wrote – and Schmitt finds its traces etched into the material reality like a language with a grammar that only (film) art can decode. ‘Purge This Land’ is dedicated to Schmitt’s own children, who by all accounts can look forward to growing up under the odious yoke of racism. But where civil rights movements are just as little a thing of the past.

Life Imitation (Zhou Chen. China). World premiere.

Chatroom threads, sexting and virtual scenes from Grand Theft Auto’s violent computer game version of Los Angeles come together with alarming and nightmarish ease to depict scenes from the Chinese artist Zhou Chen’s friends’ lives in his hypnotically dark film, where above all the young women defy social and sexual taboos, but at the same time mirror their loneliness and isolation in the screens of their mobile phones. Symptoms of a futuristic diagnosis from an almost post-human reality, where social identity and role play are two sides of the same coin. But also a diagnosis made from a critical and above all human perspective, which poses the question of what empathy means and whether feelings are still real when everything else is virtual. ‘Life Imitation’ was made in connection with the exhibition ‘After Us’ at K11 in Shanghai and New Museum in New York.

The Mærsk Opera ( SUPERFLEX. Denmark). World Premiere.

‘The Mærsk Opera’ is the story of the creation of the controversial Copenhagen Opera House. A work in three acts, which depicts the power relations of the day between individuals and society. The story begins in 2000, when the opera house is being built and the Carver is contacted by the Assistant, who desires to create ‘the most beautiful stone ever seen’. Apart from the musicians and singers, we are in the film presented with a range of protagonists, who all depict intrigue, conflict and power within Denmark’s recent history. With a twist that includes elements from documentary filmmaking, animation and aesthetic realism, the film’s diverse gallery of characters is brought into play: a lonely meteorite, a dog with a collar, a pair of gesticulating male hands, industrious ants, springboard divers and a sonically manipulated black liquid. The subtle symbolism of the film’s imagery and the classical, impasto opera together create a contrasting universe, which depicts the structures of capitalist society, and acts as a kind of multilayered catharsis – a film about an opera about a building. The film is an adaptation of SUPERFLEX’s opera of the same name, exhibited during Copenhagen Art Festival in 2012.

Xenoi (Deborah Stratman. USA, Greece). World premiere.

Sunlight glistens like diamonds on the water along the coasts of the Greek island of Syros, where the image pans to let us look out over the landscape and into caves and abandoned buildings. The light’s illusory glittering is meanwhile overshadowed by the unexpected appearance of some diamond-shaped foreign objects, which mysteriously and stoically float in the air like ideal, Platonic forms – according to geometric principles that man has studied since antiquity. With today’s crisis-hit Greece as the contemporary setting for her philosophical reflections on forms and perception and based on meticulous research, Deborah Stratman has created a multidimensional cinematic space for a historic encounter between the antique world of thought and today’s political and social reality. Note that ‘Xenoi’ contains stroboscopic flicker effects.

Desert of the Real (Christian von Borries. Denmark). World premiere.

CPH:DOX’s favourite maximalist Christian von Borries is back. Six years have passed since the housing bubble burst and swept everything but the banking world away with it, but already now the ruins of the noughties’ bling testosterone architecture in Abu Dhabi, Georgia and Arizona’s suburbs are being overgrown by weeds. The German techno-futurist and fearless contemporary philosopher von Borries is our tour guide in ‘Desert of the Real’ and takes us to the new (un)reality, and takes his arguments to their logical conclusion: a musical of critical theory, which takes place on a global stage of 3D holograms and bluescreen panoramas from selfie-friendly tourist spots, which are never further away than a quick click. Is ‘Desert of the Real’ in fact a social-realist documentary broadcast back to us from a future that is closer than we think? And is Christian von Borries a prototype of a new kind of thinker, who expresses his complex theoretical concepts through images and sound? Keep an eye on James N. Kienitz Wilkins (‘Common Carrier’) in a small cameo appearance.

Urth (Ben Rivers. UK). World premiere.

‘Urth’ documents the failed and shut-down ecosystem Biosphere 2.0 in Arizona. A science-fiction-like, pyramidal building and a laboratory for the creation of an artificial Planet Earth to deal with climate change’s destruction of our own version. But also a place where plants ironically are well underway in taking over the abandoned ruins of the utopian project. Fragments of a scientist’s surviving notebook are illustrated by Ben Rivers’ strangely beautiful and evocative film images from the  abandoned insides of the buildings, in a dark and dreamlike vision, where the immense complexity of climate consciousness finds its own (visual) language. For just like the artificial biosphere itself, the climate discourse is often also characterised by being isolated from the realities of the rest of the world. ‘Urth’ is created in connection with Rivers’ exhibition of the same name, and can here for the first time be experienced in the darkness of the cinema.

The Flying Proletarian (Phillip Warnell. UK). World premiere.

Through the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s words, ‘The Flying Proletarian’ conjures up a sensory world where the self, the environment and the gravity of thinking are anchored in picturesque scenes from Provence, where the annual ritual of the lavender harvest is underway under blistering sunshine. A scene of being-in-the-world, but also scenes from a world where humanity’s historical urge to subjugate both nature and outer space is making itself felt. The alien is a force of nature, which man must necessarily relate to in thought, language and action. And this is what both Nancy and Warnell do, as well as the farmers who have developed a gentle and delicate craft over generations, which Warnell immortalises on sensual 16mm. The premiere will include a perfume machine, so you can enjoy the smell of fresh lavender to accompany the beautiful pictures. The film is the third collaboration between Warnell and Nancy, and follows on from the films ‘Outlandish’ (CPH:DOX 2009) and ‘Ming of Harlem’ (CPH:DOX 2014).

Maybe This Act, This Work, This Thing (Joachim Koester. Denmark, Belgium, UK). World premiere.

Two Vaudeville actresses work on a new play on a dark stage. Spurred by the cinematic apparatus – the cinema, the projector, movement, sound – the two dancers try to transform themselves through gestures into the rotating gear of a projector, spinning reels and quivering electricity. The two women whisper, dance, stamp and wind around the axes of their own bodies in their interpretation of cinematic mechanics. Joachim Koester’s enigmatic and dialogue-free work for two dancers, a dark stage and a camera conjures up a picture of the cinematic medium as a powerful revolutionary force, a product of the 20th century’s industrialisation of culture, the body and possibly art itself – a force which may be ebbing away, if we take the two dancers’ actions as a sign that the film medium itself is conscious of having to seduce a new audience before it’s too late. A work that is created as an installation and which takes on a whole new meaning by being experienced in the cinema.

The Haunted (Saodat Ismailova (Norway, Uzbekistan). World premiere.

Saodats Ismailova’s symbolic and suggestive film is a cinematic letter to an extinct race of tigers, and uses an almost hallucinatory force to conjure up a mythological, Central Asian world of yesterday. A majestic animal that speaks to us about the historical changes that led up to its own extinction as a result of modern industrialisation and fur hunting, but which lives on in the collective imagination of Turkestan as a sacred image of the soul. Ismailova’s elegiac but vitalistic work lets us sense historical and cultural changes through a hypnotic smokescreen of visions. The patinated archive footage of urban life in the region at the beginning of the 20th century, which emerges before us between pictures of today’s vast landscapes, is haunting in its modest intensity. ‘The Haunted’ is a work that consists of admonishing appearances, but is also an aural experience of a different (and more spiritual) world.

The Lost Dreams of Naoki Hayakawa (Ane Hjort Guttu & Daisuke Kosugi. Norway, Japan). World premiere.

Naoki Hayakawi is an art director at an advertising agency in Tokyo – an environment where creativity and all-consuming work conditions become an alienating whole. Naoki lives off his imagination, which earns him enough to pay for Tokyo’s exorbitant rent. But as his (day)dreams become more and more vivid in the sterile office landscape full of post-it notes and PowerPoint presentations, an anarchistic and violent energy is released, which threatens to dissolve the borders between colourful dreams and grey reality in an absurd comic chaos in the middle of an environment of hierarchical control. Naoki himself is based on Daisuke Kosugi’s own dreams and experiences from an all too recognisable reality, where the creative class is a precariat dressed in attractive clothes. In cooperation with the Norwegian Ane Hjort Guttu, the two have made a subversive (and entertaining!) work, which in kinship with Michel Gondry re-conquers imagination like a modern human right. The film was commissioned by the Gwangju Biennale.

No Trace of Accelerator, Emily Wardill (Portugal, Norway). World premiere.

Emily Wardill lets elements of psycho-horror meet Brechtian theatre in her intensely disturbing reconstruction of a mystery, which with an untranslatable ‘unheimliche’ force shakes one of the great modern taboos to its core: the loss of control. Inexplicable fires devastated a small French village for several months in the mid-1990s. The mystery was solved, but by then the small community had invented its own fearful and superstitious explanations – a social psychological phenomenon that was studied by anthropologists, whose thorough research Emily Wardhill has based her work on. Fire is a foreign object that invades the home and violates its sacred status as a domesticated ‘safe space’, and which leaves behind a thick black veil of chaos and fundamental instability – two things that the home should be a protection against, and which seep completely into Wardill’s work. ‘No Trace of Accelerator’, which is commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall, on the one hand subscribes to an extremely controlled (and seemingly Nordic) aesthetic, but at the same time lets it be vandalised by a reeling and nightmarish sense of vulnerability

Nosferatu (John Skoog. Sweden). World premiere.

The shadow of a tall and hunched man moves around a labyrinthine apartment full of bookcases, video tapes and plastic bags – like a modern Max Schreck who is restlessly looking for something that has been lost forever. The mystery and melancholy from Murnau’s vampire classic is preserved in John Skoog’s interpretation of ‘Nosferatu’, which is a (self-)portrait of the Swedish ‘outsider artist’ Richard Vogel, with whom Skoog has created his latest film work. A film that gives a new meaning and dignity to the concept of Scandinavian Expressionism by being filmed on an antiquated video format and copied from an antique video projector, whose three colours constantly threaten to dissolve the porous picture into a vacuum of abstraction. The recently deceased Vogel was a close friend of Skoog’s family, but lived a quiet life dedicated to accumulating hours of videotaped television shows and almost aggressively meaningless own projects, which in an almost lexical fashion document the welfare state’s invisible corners and waste products in countless works.