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USA, 2004 (MIFF 2005, International Panorama)

Director: Jem Cohen

"Modern civilisation is shown as a bleakly homogenous super landscape in the ambitious [Chain], which links narrative fiction filmmaking to the avant-garde with vision and authority... the cumulative effect is profoundly unsettling but is tempered by (director) Cohen's effortlessly eye-catching compositions." - Variety This Berlin Film Festival selection echoes the urban essay films of Chris Petit, and is dedicated to kindred soul Chris Marker. With highly original rock docs like [Instrument] (Fugazi), [Lucky Three] (Elliot Smith), [Benjamin Smoke] and [Road Movie] (REM) behind him, Jem Cohen's (MIFF 00 guest) fascinating new work is a hypnotic diary of two women's experience navigating the cookie-cutter offices, malls, motels and waiting rooms of modern society. The film incorporates Cohen's gorgeous footage of architecture, street scenes and faces into his chilling thesis on the loss of contact and communication. [Chain] has a wonderful score by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and is produced by one half of Fugazi, Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto. "At its best [Chain] has the oneiric power of fierce political intelligence of a Chris Marker cine-essay." - Village Voice
D/S Jem Cohen P Mary Jane Skalaski, Jem Cohen WS Gravity Hill TD video/col/2004/99mins Jem Cohen was born in Afghanistan in 1962. His previous films include [Lost Book Found] (1996), [Amber City] (1999), [Benjamin Smoke] (2000).

See also...


"Effectively applies Cohen's existing strengths to a familiar scenario and rejuvenates it by delivering a powerfully contemplative look at the transformative ability of all art." - Indiewire ... More »

Smells Like Teen Spirit

A domestic portrait of Patti Smith and her son, Jackson. Invoking urban New York and rural America, it's about picking up guitars and doing dirty dishes. ... More »

This is a History of New York (The Golden Dark Age of Reason)

A "history" of New York City from Prehistoric Times through the Space Age, illustrated entirely with documentary street footage. ... The filmmaker made a wide-ranging study of radically different ... More »

Amber City

Cohen's beautifully composed documentary, Amber City, is dedicated to writer Primo Levi. It was shot in countless locations across an unknown city in Italy with a soundtrack by musicians including ... More »

Witness Butthole Surfers

In which Cohen bears witness to the dark intensity of the American band Butthole Surfers filmed at a particularly exuberant show. Brooding and unsettling - an anti-music video??? ... More »

Just Hold Still

Essentially a compilation work made up of numerous short pieces, described by Cohen as: Where Documentary Collides. Music Video As Independent Film. Birds As Punctuation ... The project compiles ... More »

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