LONDON ORBITAL (2002) [Feature]

UK (MIFF 2003 , Documentaries)

Revered for his hallucinatory essay films, Chris Petit (last seen at MIFF 1999 with Negative Space and The Falconer) has cooperated with lain Sinclair on a documentary version of Sinclair's scabrous novel, London Orbital. The controversial M-25 motorway encircles London with 200 kilometres of asphalt. Petit and Sinclair obsessively travelled the gargantuan ring road documenting the impact it has had on contemporary society, culture and psyche.

A documentary about a freeway you ask?! Far from it. Petit spins out a labyrinth of conspiracy theories, tales of terror (real and fictional), accounts of gangland slayings and investigations into the ecological and psychological devastation that the M-25 has caused. Lack of sleep, days on the road and a kind of cold fury put the filmmakers into a trance-like state. Their paranoia becomes manifest in actual events and confused with those they imagine. Is it pure coincidence that Dracula's London hideaway Carfax Abbey sits at the centre of the motorway? Did their cameraman really abandon the project to live in a home­made shelter on an M-25 traffic island? Was the event just a fevered mirage conjured up by interviewees like J.G. Ballard? Selected for Venice, Rotterdam and Vancouver Film Festivals, London Orbital is captivating viewing.

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