Distant Planet: The Six Chapters of Simona (28'44''), 2018
by Josh Blaaberg
Italo disco is often seen as the lesser cousin of US and UK pop, a cultural hierarchy built on a set of shared assumptions relating to nationhood, language, identity and originality. In Distant Planet, Josh Blaaberg combines fiction, archive and interview to explore how emotional impulses are at the core of these and all assumptions: how reality and desire are inherently intertwined. The film imagines a universe where mid- 1980s New York runs riot for the latest Italo releases and Campari fountains are installed by Presidential decree. It presents the genre in all its glamour and artifice, celebrating its anonymous stars who sang in borrowed English under invented American names. Starting from the premise that life is as ephemeral as a short-lived Italo hit, the film positions the genre as being defined by loss: of language, voice and dashed hopes for a better future. It goes on to explore how the eternal desire to overcome loss is the true meaning of luxury. The film draws parallels between the loss of loved ones, the strange unreality of experiencing grief in childhood, and the unique combination of happy and sad sounds that define the music. Through archive footage, interviews and newly-imagined realities, Distant Planet takes three Italo disco stars and journeys with them as they reconnect with the forgotten fantasies of the music. In doing so, our Italo stars are elevated to their rightful places in pop history. Immortalised as demi-gods on the slopes of Mount Etna, all loss is defeated and cultural hierarchies overcome.
Everybody In The Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (61'35''), 2018
by Jeremy Deller
Acid house is often portrayed as emerging sui generis, inspired by little more than a handful of London- based DJs discovering ecstasy on a 1987 holiday to Ibiza. In truth, the explosion of acid house and rave in the UK was a reaction to a much wider and deeper set of fault lines in British culture, stretching from the heart of the city to the furthest reaches of the countryside, cutting across previously-impregnable boundaries of class, identity and geography. With Everybody in the Place the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller upturns popular notions of rave and acid house, situating them at the very centre of the seismic social changes reshaping 1980s Britain. Rare and unseen archive materials map the journey from protest movements to abandoned warehouse raves, the white heat of industry bleeding into the chaotic release of the dancefloor. We join an A Level politics class as they discover these stories for the first time, viewing this familiar narrative from the perspective of a generation for whom it's already ancient history. We see how rave culture owes as much to the Battle of Orgreave and the underground gay clubs of Chicago as it does to shifts in musical style: not merely a cultural gesture, but the fulcrum for a generational shift in British identity, linking industrial histories and radical action to the wider expanses of a post-industrial future.