Jem Cohen & Peter Sillen’s Benjamin Smoke
7.45 doors (8pm start)
£5 advance CLICK HERE £6.50 on the door
An evening of independent film and music
With a special live set by Bird Radio
A benefit event for the Horse Hospital Fundraising Campaign
Benjamin Smoke (2000, USA) 72 mins
Directed by Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen
“Cohen's is a cinema of transience and dissipation, of patient archiving and spontaneous revelation. Drawn to the derelict and dilapidated, he records his subjects - musicians, townscapes - piecemeal over time, sometimes on scraps of different film stock. Cohen and collaborator Peter Stillen outline the bare bones of dissolute drag queen and singer-songwriter Benjamin's biography, mostly as expounded by the man himself: early flirtations with his mother's wardrobe; musical and other adventures fronting the Opal Foxx Quartet and Smoke; his affliction with 'the HIV thing'; his death in 1999, aged 39. Cohen first arrived on the scene in '89, whence the film's scratchy, present tense scrapbook proceeds in fits and starts, with an eye for the changes fermenting in his locale of Cabbagetown, Alabama. Benjamin's music, meanwhile, heard in snatches of rehearsals and shows, occupies that dark hollow between American folk and punk, Harry Smith and Patti Smith.” – Nick Bradshaw, from Time Out London
With thanks to Jem Cohen, Bird Radio and Carroll Fletcher Gallery for their support (www.carrollfletcher.com)
Bird Radio (www.birdradio.co.uk):
Bird Radio is multi-instrumentalist Mikey Kirkpatrick who performs and records original songs using vocals, guitars, flutes, loops, effects and a suitcase bass drum. Described on different occasions as “a mix of old testament preacher and Captain Beefheart…”, “a flute-toting, bass drum-beating sensation…” and “… future medieval, as if J.G. Ballard had written The Wicker Man”, Bird Radio draws from primordial folk, blues and ritualistic sound to create powerful songs that combine the ancient art of storytelling with rousing and hypnotic beats and rhythms.
Bird Radio has performed at numerous venues, nationally and internationally, including Cecil Sharp House, Café Oto, Purcell Room, The Pataphysical Museum, The Harrison, The Horse Hospital and venues across the USA, Canada and Europe. He has composed music for experimental films and performance, been a featured artist on BBC radio, received the Knap O Howar arts award in 2012 and released his first studio album, The Boy and the Audience on SFE/Cherry Red in October 2013.
One of contemporary cinema’s finest film essayists, New York-based Jem Cohen has been making work for more than three decades. The pre-eminent street- and diary-film maker of his generation, he is also a crucial collaborator with musicians, having worked for many years with the cream of North America’s alt-music community, among them Fugazi, Patti Smith, Vic Chesnutt, Elliott Smith, Tom Verlaine, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Terry Riley, Sparklehorse and R.E.M.
His most recent feature, the Vienna-set Museum Hours, was released to great acclaim in 2013. Deeply committed politically, a strong advocate of 16mm, and genuinely independent in work, life and the relationship to financial structures, we’re delighted that Jem has given permission for this screening and is supporting the campaign to defend the Horse Hospital.