UNDER the strapline “diverse adventures in a cinematic medium”, Edinburgh collective Screen Bandita unearth lost, abandoned and forgotten film and recontextualise it with judicious editing and live music.
Fuaim is Solas - Douglas Robertson Studio, Edinburgh
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The films shown here included a silent documentary chronicling the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge, another about early British oil exploitation in Iran, footage of gymnastics, and faded colour close-ups of sea-life in rock pools.
The whirr of twin 16mm projectors, directed at a crumpled pair of bedsheet curtains, underscored this richly absorbing performance, while behind the screen lurked Lau accordionist Martin Green, fiddler/producer Tim Matthew and harpist/composer Una Monaghan, responding to the images with a blend of music and electro-acoustic sound effects, sometimes abstract, sometimes mimetic, sometimes an oblique kind of commentary.
A sorrowful, slow-plucked harp melody, alongside shots of Forth Bridge workmen dwarfed by girders and cranes, evoked the cannon-fodder cheapness of labourers’ lives, while the captions’ chirpy imperial commentary on the oil-drilling sequences fed potently into the mounting trepidation conjured both by the musicians’ gradual crescendo into discord and today’s historical perspective.
Other implicit themes emerged – man-made and natural geometry; nature in retreat; the universality of conflict; the marvel of the human form – but individual spectators will surely have gleaned their own personal list, so open was the piece’s approach. While the fourth and final main segment felt both unrevealing and surplus to requirements, duration-wise, what came before was both intensely immersive and wondrously compelling.