Venue: Harstad Cinema
Johann Lurf will attend AMIFF to screen and talk about his highly unique, sensational and ambitious experimental film ★, consisting solely of found-footage material of starry skies through cinematic history, collected from non the less then impressive 550 films! (That is, so far. Johann will continue the project by providing a new, longer version each year.)
"A film with no answers but as many questions as there are stars in the universe, Austrian structuralist Johann Lurf has chosen an audacious and ever-expanding subject for his feature film debut: the stars of cinema. Not the movie stars, but the stars in the night´s sky, pinpricks of light against the darkness excerpted from films beginning at cinema´s dawn and continuing to this present day in a project that is planned to be expanded yearly. These stellar instances, riven from context with sound intact—ambient hums, grand orchestral scores, pedantic explanations, dreamy speculation—are magical fields of darkness sprinkled with possibilities. Lurf´s jazzy editing, balancing tranquil concentration and jumpy jitters based on his methodology of retaining each clip´s length, image and sound, sends the audience on a journey across the tones of promise and threat that emanate from the cosmos. A subject difficult if not impossible to accurately photograph on film, we are therefore greeted again and again by the varied interpretations of the starry night by matte artists and special effects wizards, gazing now in stillness, now in careening motion across or into space at incandescent nebulae, distant twinkling dots, and the black void in-between. Surveying a history of cinema´s fixation with, and escape to, outer space, we find both what audiences in their own times saw up there, as well as mirrors of our own wonderment: Awe, terror, hope, arrogant confidence, melancholic yearning and blank, awesome silence. These are the rare moments when the movie audience, backs to the projector, in fact faces light projected at them: Our eyes are the screens for the cinema of the stars." (Daniel Kasman)
"Stargazers watch out! Johann Lurf went to the tremendous effort of collecting starry skies from no fewer than 553 movies and mounting them in chronological order, from 1905 all the Milky Way to 2017. The amazing result is an unadulterated, searched footage documentary with a stunning soundtrack, a vast catalogue of mostly imagined firmaments from throughout film history." (Diagonale 2018, mz)
"A film that defies easy explanation, ★ is filmmaker Johann Lurf’s inventive examination of how outer space has been portrayed in movies.
You don’t have to be a scientist to find space fascinating. Few things in the universe have enthralled, perplexed, and inspired such a diverse group of people, from astronomers and philosophers to artists and ordinary people walking at night. Artists were so inspired by the heavens that they created artwork of celestial objects — even when you see a “photo” of other planets and stars, it is often an artist’s rendering.
Lurf playfully shows how cinema turned the stars into endless metaphors, dreams, and warm blankets. There is no story or characters — only movie scenes worked together outside of their contexts. We put our own thoughts into the stunning scenes while each clip’s sound design presents us with ambience, brief dialogue, or loud music. The editing enthralls us as space is not depicted the same in every clip. If you have a love affair with movies and the sky, ★ is the ultimate romantic art film."
(Sundance Film Festival in January 2018)
"This film’s ambition is both precise and lofty: an exploration of cinematic history consisting solely of scenes of starry skies. No landscapes, not even trees or roofs. A cloud or a satellite perhaps. No subtitles either. The excerpts retain their original – often kitsch or bombastic – soundtracks and are in chronological order. Initially, the iconography is pretty naive, but later viewers are presented with a galaxy of stylistic approaches and technical solutions. The more recent, the more realistic. Besides a trip through film history, ★ is also a conceptual work that elicits questions concerning our relationship with time and space. Moreover Lurf forces us to reflect on human aspirations. Yet his own ambitions are also exceptionally high: he wants to make an unending director’s cut, providing a new, longer version each year."
(Rotterdam International Film Festival in January 2018)!
Director, consept and realisation: Johann Lurf Sound: Nils Kirchhoff Year: Austria 2017 Language: No dialogue, Running time: 99 min