Directed by Andrew Kotting with Iain Sinclair 2012, 94 mins
Free 4.30pm 5 October 2014
Introduced by Iain Sinclair In association with Gareth Evans Many thanks to Andrew Kotting
“This documentary by quirky British film-maker Andrew Kötting and the eccentrically brilliant urban historian and social geographer Iain Sinclair traces a journey they made recently by sea, river and canal from Hastings on the Sussex coast to the site of the 2012 Olympics. Their vessel was a pedalo in the shape of a swan, Kötting wore a dark three-piece suit and Sinclair jeans and a battered baseball cap, and the aim was to draw attention to the antisocial, hubristic stupidity of the Games and their chosen location. Along the way the pair comment on the surrounding countryside and its history, using old newsreel film and quoting from Edward Lear, Conrad, James, Eliot, Edmund Spenser, Edith Sitwell, Pound, Brecht and Werner Herzog, and occasionally they let others do some pedalling.
Like a cross between Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat and WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, this is a constantly beguiling movie with an underlying touch of bitterness, especially towards the end. The best line comes from the author of graphic novels Alan Moore, who takes over briefly at the pedals and remarks of Sinclair: “He doesn’t think that anything should happen in Hackney without his permission.”
– Philip French, from The Observer
Dawn til Dusk: A Swan Song. Freya Gabie Sunday 28th September, dawn until dusk plus viewing from the tower of St John at Hackney Church, 2-4.30pm
The Swan Song is an expression born from an ancient belief that the swan, a silent creature throughout life: emits a beautiful, haunting song only once, at the point of death. An articulation of loss, transcendence, beauty, entropy: it encapsulates a moment of both rupture and rapture. It is the boundary point between two states: the edge. In ‘Dawn til Dusk: A Swan Song’, artist Freya Gabie will give the ancient condemned site of St John’s Rectory Garden its own Swan Song, attempting to give the landscape a voice at the moment of its death.
7pm (doors at 6pm) – Main Hall, Ground Floor
For 4 weeks in the autumn of 2011, award-winning film-maker Andrew Kötting and cult writer Iain Sinclair pedalled a plastic swan over 160 miles from the seaside of Hastings to Hackney in East London, meeting all sorts of people along the way. This live multimedia performance, with Sinclair, Kötting and a host of others describes this adventure through spoken word, film and experimental acoustic sound led by Jem Finer. Not to be missed!
Venue: Festival HQ – Leigh Community Centre, 81 Elm Road, SS9 1HT, Leigh on Sea
BFI Film Fund-backed SWANDOWN will screen in the ACID’s 20th anniversary Cannes selection.
Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair’s “playfully absurd” travelogue documentary, Swandown has been selected to screen in the France’s Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (ACID) section at the Cannes Film Festival, which celebrates innovation and experimentation in filmmaking and aims to giving greater visibility to new talent. The film, which is backed by the BFI Film Fund, is produced by Lisa Marie Russo and executive produced by Kate Ogborn for Fly Film.
“Swandown is a travelogue and odyssey of Olympian ambition; a poetic film-diary about encounter, myth and culture. It is also an endurance test and pedal-marathon in which Andrew Kötting (the filmmaker) and Iain Sinclair (the writer) pedal a swan-shaped pedalo from the seaside in Hastings to Hackney in London, via the English inland waterways.
With a nod to Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and a pinch of Dada,Swandown documents Kötting and Sinclair’s epic journey, on which they are joined by invited guests including comedian Stewart Lee, writer Alan Moore and actor Dudley Sutton.
This was a perilous journey, akin to the river voyage of Bogart and Hepburn in The African Queen. It was also, for Kötting, a tribute to the legendary performer, traveller and conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, who in 1975 was lost at sea attempting to cross the Atlantic in a pocket cruiser.
This dual edition DVD and Blu-ray release includes caption subtitles, and 43 minutes of extras including the short films Glitter and Storm by Rebecca E. Marshall, Random Acts and Bunhill Fields, an excerpt from the Filmmakers’ Q&A, and the film trailer.
‘Swandown is utterly funny, deeply lyrical, wholly winning, unchallengeably unique. It converts Kötting at a stroke from an acquired taste to a required one.’ ***** The Financial Times
‘Swandown is a puckish, gently abstract, playfully absurd travelogue.’ **** The Daily Telegraph
Swandown was commissioned by the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival and premiered at Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2012.”