Please go in two by two! Sally Potter’s Fabulous Ark

Film Studies For Free has recently set up a small, but growing, new links list to ‘Filmmakers’ Websites Of Note’ (just scroll down on the right-hand side of the site). The list currently contains links to the following sites: Alejandro Jodorowsky; Fernando Trueba; Gonzalo Suárez; Carlos Saura; Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón; Tomás Gutiérrez Alea; Isabel Coixet; Bigas Luna; Alejandro Amenábar; Pedro Almodóvar’s blog; Aardman Animations; Álex de la Iglesia; Atom Egoyan; Bill Melendez; The Coppola Family; The Makhmalbaf Filmhouse; and Werner Herzog (please ‘excuse’ the abundance of Spanish and Latin filmmakers, but that was the cohort within which FSFF began its search). Any suggestions for additions to the listing are very gratefully received indeed. And, if auteur(ist)-resources are your bag, please keep an eye on it as FSFF is sure it will rapidly expand.

A new link to by far the most innovative and promising of any filmmakers’ websites ever surfed by this blogger has just been added to the list: Sally Potter‘s Archive SP-ARK! (Potter also has an occasional blog; and a more conventional company website, too). Potter is, as FSFF readers will know, director of radically innovative films such as Thriller, The Gold Diggers, Orlando (the principal ‘object’ of the SP-ARK archive), The Man Who Cried, The Tango Lesson, and more recently, Yes.

SP-ARK is currently in prototype (beta-test) form; it describes its amazing project as follows:

SP-ARK is a web-based open source educational project based on the multi-media archive of film-maker Sally Potter. SP-ARK is designed as a unique educational resource, tailored to the radically new learning preferences of students everywhere, which can be used as a model for innovative teaching and research in all disciplines and at every level. At this stage only a tiny fraction of the materials available in the Sally Potter archive has been uploaded to the site’s database. During the next phase the complete ORLANDO archive will be made available, followed by materials relating to all of Potter’s films and her work in dance, music and theatre. You are welcome to browse through the sample materials already available on the site, currently over 600 items. If you would like to access SP-ARK ‘s unique interactive features and become a trial user participating in the testing and future development of this prototype then please email us at beta [at] sp-ark.org with some information about yourself and your interest in SP-ARK. We will send you a username and password.

(Please note that you don’t have to email or register in order to browse – just visit!)

Film Studies For Free l o v e s the ethos of SP-ARK, and greatly appreciates what’s up and running on the site already; it very much looks forward to following its development. It also hopes that other living filmmakers (or the heirs of filmmakers from earlier generations) are inspired to build on Sally Potter’s generous example.

As for the educational implications of projects like these, the ‘Cloud‘s’ the limit, if you know what FSFF means. As Chris Berry, Professor of Film and Television Studies at London’s Goldsmiths College, brilliantly puts it in his endorsement of this archive:

The SP-ARK vision of social learning gives us a glimmer of the future today. Instead of locking archive materials away and restricting availability, it promises ready access to SP-ARK to anybody anywhere with a computer and the internet. Furthermore, the solitary archive user is transformed into a producer and a member of a community by the ability to build pathways of connections and commentary through the material. In the process, the cinema is extended from a fixed object to be viewed into a dynamic, interactive, and growing network of digital debate and active learning.

Some other, good, Sally Potter, online links follow:

Atom Egoyan (Adoration) and Directors’ Notes (Appreciation)

A quickie today. Film Studies For Free hopes you’ll check out the great, 10 minute long, podcast (and streaming audio) with Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan, whose new film Adoration showed at last night’s London Film Festival. The podcast is brought to you by Directors’ Notes (see below for more info). As for Adoration, Sandra Hebron, artistic director of the LFF (see a video interview with her HERE), writes,

This twelfth feature from Atom Egoyan begins with a teacher setting an assignment to a class of high school students, and this seemingly everyday exercise is the catalyst for an exploration of the ways in which we make connections – with each other, with our families and our personal histories, with new technology and the modern world. When Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian) asks her class to translate a news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend, this has a profound effect on one of the students, Simon ([Devon Bostick]). Re-imagining this to be his own family’s story, he begins to perpetuate this fictitious history via internet chatrooms. […]

Ambitious in structure and scope, Adoration unfolds as a multi-layered mystery story in which chronology is fractured, and narrators sometimes unreliable. The rich visual texture of the film reflects this, combining sumptuous 35mm photography with images from the internet and mobile phones. Woven through with themes of terrorism, prejudice and fear, Adoration is unfailingly intelligent and unquestionably timely. [with hyperlinks added by FSFF]

There’s a good detailed review of the film by Cinematical. Other good links to Egoyan include: his company website; Girish Shambu‘s Senses of Cinema essay on the director (‘The Pleasure And Pain Of “Watching”: Atom Egoyan’s Exotica‘); a very good survey piece at the Canadian Film Encyclopedia/Film Reference Library; another one at MovieMaker.com; and another, really excellent, very detailed, and more ‘academic’ one at Bright Lights Film Journal, by David L. Pike. Some great YouTube videos related to Atom Egoyan are HERE. And a really interesting Cineaste interview with Egoyan online HERE at The Free Library.

Film Studies For Free urges you to explore what’s on offer more generally at Directors’ Notes; it’s a nicely organised site that brings weekly podcasts with indie directors and other film personnel, along with up-to-date and varied reviews, and other news and articles. RSS feed available HERE.