Movement Nu 05: “Chain” from director Jem Cohen (2004)
Movement Nu Volume 5
Jim Cohen is a New York based film maker who created the Fugazi documentary film Instrument. He is also the person responsible for the background projections on the latest Godspeed you Black Emperor tour from this year. His films are incredible and use a minimal state of technology to capture some very rich settings for his films. Utilizing various lower standard sources such as 16mm, super 8mm and video, he has created an aesthetic with his films that shows how technique can greatly overshadow technology. Below is info on a 2004 film release called Chain that saw executive production from Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. This type of film is raw on every level and is something all it’s own in todays over produced world of arts. ~ Erik Otis
Director: Jem Cohen
Executive Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Ian MacKaye, Guy Picciotto
Cast: Miho Nikaido, Mira Billotte, Minda Martin, Tarik O’Regan, Robert C. Gibson
Music: Godspeed You Black Emperor!
From The Independent:
“I don’t really want to talk too much about the nuts and bolts because I think it spoils the experience to a certain degree,” says Cohen. “What I find most satisfying is that people who go to the movie are unsure as to where the documentary slips off and where the narrative begins.” When Amanda, the drifter, rattles off her low-wage jobs in voice-over, very often, Cohen says, she’s just talking to him about her life. And when Tamiko, who’s been sent to the United States by her Japanese company to consult for a steel company considering a transformation into a theme park, quotes the dogma of her bosses, saying, “Without a pure race, it will be difficult to have a pure goal for business,” she’s actually quoting a corporate speech Cohen read about in the paper; he studied the business pages, along with books like Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed for both inspiration and research.
He does offer this about his process: “I usually work kind of backwards, partly from pre-existing footage where I find narrative cues, and then I write very carefully, and so some of it is sort of stumbled upon and some of it is very carefully crafted.” He continues, “I shot for years just looking at these places and not really thinking about their narrative aspects. It’s that process that makes it half a documentary film. Half of it is undirected footage of the real world; it’s documentary footage.”
Below is a clip of the intro for “Chain”; the soundtrack from Godspeed you Black Emperor is incredible.