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LONDON BRIEF

UK / US / Portugal, 1997 (MIFF 1998, Documentaries)

Director: Jon Jost

To those familiar with the extensive array of films by Jon Jost, he is a figurehead, a pioneer amongst independent and experimental filmmakers. Jost is a one-man crew. With camera in hand, he has constantly toyed with cinematic aesthetics and politics, carving a singular niche.

London Brief is less overtly political in tone, but equally as impacting and forceful as prior projects. Jost has chosen the name of his latest film well: 'brief' referring to a letter, a file as well as something of short duration. London Brief is best characterised as a video letter, a tightly compacted file on the big city on the far side of the Channel. Jost uses his particular eye for rhythm and montage to revisit a city often filmed, but rarely examined on screen. The director cuts several incisions into the visual form of London, decontextualising the word 'Look' from the Underground signs 'Look Left, Look Right' - a motif to invite us to look beyond usual expectations when viewing a city afresh or for the first time. He visits an amusement park, tube stations, pubs, homes and skaters in a park, revealing new images in new contexts.

Jost exploits digital video and the Media 100 editing system, very specific technology, to original effect, celebrating the relationship between the individual and the modem machine. In the broader context of his lifetime's work, London Brief stands as a new visual document, bound to force a rethinking of the social meaning of independent filmmaking.

Jon Jost was born in 1943 in Chicago, and was raised in Georgia, Japan, Italy, Germany and Virginia. After serving two years in jail for draft-dodgin in the mid-1960s, he became politically active and involved in filmmaking. His films include Angel City (1976), Stagefright (1981), Rembrandt Laughing (1988) and Frameup (1993).

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