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Mar 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Documentary Poetry Cinema by Stephen Connolly

w/ Stephen Connolly and Richard Birkett

This work explores the fertile territory between documentary and poetic modes of moving image. From diary to essay-film to observational work, London-based artist Stephen Connolly employs a variety of investigative and reconstructive approaches to his non-fiction filmmaking. Serious, yet never solemn, and infused with wit and passion, the work combines an urgency and complexity in the short film form. Connolly combines and layers seemingly disparate images, sounds, and narrative threads to explore the relationships between individual and social agency.

Connolly’s film The Whale (2003) is described by the artist as “an oblique meditation on safety, fear and notions of faraway places”. The dispassionate camera of Great American Desert (2007) explores an Arizona landscape to the chatter of a flock of Snowbirds. Más Se Perdió (2008) wanders through a revolutionary ruin in Havana, while respectfully appreciating the nuances of image making in this politically contested space. The first section of the program includes the “.. angular, beautifully shot Film for Tom (2005), which broods upon the life and death of a bright, troubled outsider, …. breathtakingly measured and sure-footed.” ‘New Contemporaries’, Martin Herbert, TIME OUT LONDON 2006. Stephen Connolly will jury the 2011 Ann Arbor Film Festival,  March 22-27.


The Reading Room By Stephen Connolly
UK, 2002, 3 minutes, digital projection

This film traces the movement of visitors to the British Museum reading room through an entire working day in under three minutes. The film is an exploration of the changing place of the archive. Using an elevated camera, a single ‘ master’ shot film reveals the layout of the library as a panoptican, a structure envisaged as an ideal prison by Jeremy Bentham (1785).

Film for Tom by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2005, 12 minutes, digital projection

Based on a single evening’s sound recording with Tom, this film is a lyrical homage to a friend and formative influence. Tom in voiceover is eloquent and effusive, yet finds no resolution to issues that haunt him. Near the conclusion of the film, a dramatic offscreen event complicates our understanding of the images and spaces we have seen.

Special M ention, Tiger Awards for Short Film, I FFR 2006?Girot.

Award for Editing and Editorial, 45th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2006

Two Coronations by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2010, 16 minutes, digital projection

Two Coronations reworks 16mm film from a family archive, temporally framed by the eponymous ceremonies in the UK of 1937 and 1953. From the archive, documents the activity of ’ the procession’ , which feature both public events and private occasions, were selected. Through montage, notions of social collectivity are placed in question.

Postcard from Istanbul by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2002, 7 minutes, digital projection

The camera in Postcard from Istanbul seeks out the shoeshines of the city and exchanges the price of a shine for a short portrait on super8. A film shot in mid September 2001 while wandering through Beyoglu and encountering those working there.

The Whale by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2003, 9 minutes, 16mm

“A deliberation on the state of nature and the nature of the State…. The Whale combines several disparate components (including a parent-child dialogue on the relative threats posed by wild animals, an archival television interview with notorious RAF operative Ulrike Meinhof and citations from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan) to consider the need for a renewed communal sensibility in contemporary society.”- Jeremy Rigsby, Images Festival, Toronto 2005

Great American Desert by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2007, 16 minutes, 16 mm

The camera of Great American Desert observes a scrubby Arizona desert, occupied by thousands of ‘Snow Birds’ in the Winter months. Fragmentary discourses emerge in montage, including an account of the men who carried out the Hiroshima bombing and details of a Navy Day Spectacular, staged in the Los Angeles Coliseum, in celebration of the end of hostilities.

Más Se Perdió by Stephen Connolly

UK, 2008, 14 minutes, 16 mm

Explores a number of filmic options of showing place – in this case sites in Havana, Cuba. A public exercise area is shown in a single shot unfolding in real time. The ruins of the National School of Ballet – an example of a unique form of modern architecture – is explored through spatial movement and narrative. A street scene is repeated three times – with different sound treatments, suggesting questions around the sufficiency of the representation. This contested place is shown as a dialogue with representation – abstracted and ambiguous.

Recipient of the Ghostly Award for Sound Design, 47th Ann Arbor Film Festival 2009.


Stephen Connolly, born 1964 in Montreal, Canada, is a London based artist filmmaker who has shown extensively in international film festivals, had solo screenings at the National Film Theatre, BFI London, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and a recipient of Arts Council England film production funding. He is to be an Ann Arbor Film Festival Juror in 2011.

Richard Birkett is curator at Artists Space, New York. He was previously curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and co-founder and director of Whitechapel Project Space, also in London. He has contributed texts to artist’s monographs and art periodicals, and has edited publications including Dispersion (with Polly Staple), 2008 and Cosey Complex (with Maria Fusco), 2011.


Mar 20, 2011
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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