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Just Hold Still

USA, 1989 (MIFF 1990, Video Programme)

Director: Jem Cohen

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 short works and collaborations into a reflection on the grey areas between documentary, narrative and experimental genres. Just Hold Still is made up of the following:

Part 1. . . the heart is attached
4:44 (From Her House Home)
With Gabriel Cohen
A certain kind of night collected: Trees, houses, footsteps and narrative skimmed. In support of unsolved mysteries.

Never Change With Blake Nelson
Coming down one California mountain in a quiet storm of film grain and mist.

Love Teller With Ben Hatchor
A surviving arcade machine and the science of the heart.

Light Year
"I'll be your mirror." - Lou Reed, Velvet Underground

Part 2. . . city song
Selected City Films
Brief photoplays from unrehearsed New York, including rare documentation of the Motorcycle Christ.

Glueman With Fugazi
A 'music video' with and without a song. A music video with nothing to sell.

Talk About The Passion with R.E.M.
Created as a music video for the popular American band R.E.M. "Some have seen this as being about the homeless. It is also simply about hidden costs and the human limits of numbering. Buildings, bones, weapon systems. Counting and accountability."

My own informal public service announcement.
- Jem Cohen

See also...

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 »

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 »


"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 ... More »

Patti Smith: Long for the City

Patti Smith and her poetry wind their way through the streets of New York City, as she voices her thoughts on her neighbourhood and her life. ... 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 »

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