Afterimage: For a New Cinema

The British film magazine Afterimage (1970-87) was founded more than 50 years ago, in a very different time to our own – one of radical new directions in international cinema and its accompanying manifestos.

Over 13 irregularly published issues, each dedicated to a particular theme or filmmaker, a constant for Afterimage was its partisan position devoted to the avant-garde, to a radical cinema understood both aesthetically and politically. Early issues promoted the political cinema exemplified by the Godard of the Dziga Vertov Group and by the films of Straub-Huillet. Crucial too at the founding of the magazine were the examples set by the emergent Latin American filmmakers celebrated with Espinosa’s declaration “For an Imperfect Cinema”.

« Nothing that was politically and aesthetically revolutionary in the sphere of moving images was foreign to Afterimage – one of those precious magazines through which the great wind of history blows. »

— Nicole Brenez

The second issue was published to coincide with the International Underground Film Festival held in London in 1970, an event which continued the spirit of the legendary EXPRMNTL festivals of Knokke-le-Zoute. This gathering saw the magazine commit itself to a celebration of the ‘underground’ film, particularly the New American Cinema of Snow, Sharits and Frampton. Afterimage subsequently debated questions around contemporary experimental cinema and explored what was to be described by Peter Wollen as ‘the two avant-gardes’.

Continuing to follow new directions in cinema, Afterimage went on in later years to survey the English independent film and its eccentric figures, to look at innovations in the more narrative cinemas of Yvonne Rainer and Raúl Ruiz, the ‘troublesome case’ of Derek Jarman, and finally to explore the fantastic animation of Jan Švankmajer and the Brothers Quay.

Throughout its existence, Afterimage was committed to the publication of texts, writings, scripts and interviews with filmmakers, from both contemporary and historical avant-garde figures like Vertov and Epstein. No less important – and inspired by the George Maciunas designed issues of Film Culture – was the design of the magazine, some sense of which is given here with a small exhibition in the Cinematek lobby.

Drawing particularly on the remarkable CINEMATEK collection, these 12 screenings, each related to an issue of the magazine, have been organised to celebrate the publication of The Afterimage Reader (2022), edited by Mark Webber and published by The Visible Press, which returns to circulation a rich selection of critical essays, interviews and manifestos from the period. For these screenings, emblematic works have been selected to show something of the trajectory of the magazine and to highlight Afterimage’s commitment to radical cinemas both past and present.

Film series and exhibition curated by Mark Webber and Simon Field.

In collaboration with

Tuesday 06.06 19:00 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 1 1970
Film and Politics

Godard’s Maoist-inspired manifesto ‘Que Faire’ (What is to be Done?) was written especially for the first Afterimage soon after the production of British Sounds, made under the sign of the Dziga Vertov Group. His typical intertitle texts (also seen in his Ciné-tracts) feature along with simultaneous soundtracks, manifesto readings, students re-writing Beatles songs, factory workers, a blood red hand, and an extraordinary long and ear-shattering opening take along the car production line.

Wednesday 07.06 19:00 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 2 1970
Avant-Garde Film

Three strongly contrasting works from some of the major ‘New American Cinema’ filmmakers who made such an impact on the Afterimage editors. Brakhage’s sombre, highly edited film poem is notable for its use of found footage. In the deliriously camp Hedy, underground superstar Mario Montez (as Hedy Lamarr), Ron Tavel’s acid script and Warhol’s wandering camera vie for our attention. Finally, the fierce and ‘structural’ T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G by Sharits.

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Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 3 1971
Third World Cinema

L’Heure des brasiers: néocolonialisme et violence
La hora de los hornos
  • Fernando Ezequiel Solanas, Octavio Getino, Argentinië-Argentine 1968 ⁄ black and white ⁄ 89' ⁄ ST-OND: FR

‘Towards a Third Cinema’ by Getino and Solanas was a manifesto for a new militant revolutionary Latin American cinema with low budget aesthetics and guerrilla distribution. Shot on 16mm and without sync sound, La Hora de Los Hornos is a monument of that Third Cinema: polemical, partisan and agitational. An immense ‘essay film’, furiously encompassing often pirated documentary footage, intertitles, quotations and voice-over to tell a political history of Argentina, its oligarchs, its violence, its neo colonialism.

Sunday 11.06 21:15 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 4 1972
For a New Cinema

Afterimage 4 included a long and important interview with Hollis Frampton (now reprinted in the Reader) discussing his masterpiece Zorns Lemma and the subsequent series Hapax Legomena of which four very differing parts are being shown. (nostalgia) is a photographer’s perverse autobiography, Critical Mass a hypervisual, sonic quarrel,Poetic Justice a script for the viewer, and finally Special Effects focusses on the film frame itself.

Monday 12.06 19:00 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 5 1974

  • Carl Theodor Dreyer, denmark 1964 ⁄ Nina Pens Rode, Baard Owe, Bendt Rothe ⁄ black and white ⁄ 118' ⁄ ST-OND: FR-NL

Centrepiece to an issue guest edited by Noël Burch was his polemical and controversial essay ‘Propositions’ (co-written with Jorge Dana) that categorised films according to the authors’ work on the dominant codes of cinema. Dreyer’s Gertrud was exemplary for its refusal of those codes. With its long takes, theatrical staging and extraordinary central performance by Nina Pens Rode, it is as one of Dreyer’s most remarkable – and more rarely screened – films.

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Inspirational for their writing on avant-garde cinema, this was Mulvey and Wollen’s first step into directing their own form of Counter Cinema. Inspired by Heinrich von Kleist, and by the examples of Godard and Rainer, Penthesilea is a film in five equal chapters. Each uninterrupted sequence relates to different media: a mime version of Kleist’s play, a spoken text, the theme of Amazons depicted in various artforms, silent film and feminism, and finally tv and video.

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Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 13 1987
Animating the Fantastic

The final issue of Afterimage turned to a very different tradition of cinema, one rooted in surrealism and the fantastic which fully utilised the potential of animation to create the marvellous or the uncanny. Rich in black humour, Czech Surrealist master Švankmajer’s films astonish with their invention and originality. Brothers Quay pay tribute to him and display their own distinctive vision and ability to conjure the uncanny with their Bruno Schulz-inspired Street of Crocodiles.

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Jarman exemplified a new direction in British independent filmmaking: a queer cinema, sensual, theatrical. Imagining October, in his textured, slow-motion Super-8 style, is – at the same time – a visual meditation on a trip to Moscow (and Eisenstein’s apartment), and a passionate denunciation of Thatcher’s Britain. The ground-breaking experimental narrative Borderline, which was rediscovered some five decades after its making, depicts the inner state of its characters involved in an inter-racial triangle, and also hints at a homoerotic subtext

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Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 11 1982/83
Sighting Snow

La Région centrale
  • Michael Snow, canada 1970 ⁄ color ⁄ 190'

To commemorate an exhibition of films and installations by Michael Snow, an entire issue of Afterimage was devoted to an artist regarded by the editors as seminal for his explorations of cinematic time and space. La région centrale is an extraordinary magnum opus for which a specially designed camera mechanism was constructed to move through an infinite variety of movements in recording the landscape of a remote and rugged mountain top. The result is a cinematic experience without parallel.

Monday 19.06 19:00 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 10 1981
Myths of Total Cinema

Two of international cinema’s most creative and unique filmmakers and essayists. Epstein’s last film, Le Tempestaire, ambitiously deploys sound and image to create a powerful poem to the raging sea. L’Hypothèse was described by Ian Christie as “a film unlike any other, an interpretation of some forgotten paintings that becomes a guided tour of a fantastic gallery of ‘living pictures’. In a series of haunting images Ruiz explores the relationship between words and pictures that is cinema.”

Wednesday 21.06 21:00 ledoux|upper Cart

Afterimage: For a New Cinema

Afterimage No. 7 1978

Kristina Talking Pictures
  • Yvonne Rainer, united states of america 1976 ⁄ Bert Barr, Frances Barth, James Barth ⁄ black and white ⁄ 150' ⁄ ST-OND: EN

Thursday 22.06 21:00 ledoux|upper Cart

These works by British filmmakers turn an apparent simplicity or calculated primitiveness into rich visual experiences. Sherwin uses the pre-determined length of the 3-minute, silent, 16mm reel to record often diaristic and domestic subjects, creating a particular poetry of theme and variation. Farrer generates brief abstract films by drawing geometric figures directly onto a grid of clear celluloid, with sound generated by theimage. A similar unity of sound and vision is present in Lis Rhodes’ Light Music, a dynamic work of expanded cinema for two projectors and a mobile audience.