Scattered through CIFF you will discover small gems by the remarkable New Zealand artist, sculptor and animator, Len Lye. The animated films that CIFF is screening were mostly made in London in the 1930s and 40s when Lye was engaged by the GPO Film Unit and its successors, as well as corporate entities, to make short films that carried a message of community relevance or of commercial intent. They are still today among the most colourful, vibrant and inventive of all commissioned films.
When the GPO Film Unit commissioned Lye to make these films, the Unit was at the cutting edge of creative filmmaking in Britain, and arguably in the world. Under the guiding hand of John Grierson, the left-wing Scottish entrepreneur, the Film Unit sought the most innovative way possible to get its message across to the British public. The short films we are showing are both an extraordinary demonstration of Grierson’s unique aspirations, and evidence of the full flowering of Len Lye’s extraordinary gifts as an animator.
Lye’s films were unlike anything the British public had seen, with images often painted directly on to film stock and deriving from the manipulation of colour processing, These vibrant bursts of music and movement, coupled with lively Cuban dance music, were screened in cinemas throughout the UK, and in networks that Grierson established of non-cinema venues such as public halls, work-places and clubs.
The films have been assiduously preserved by the New Zealand Film Archive, Nga Taonga Film and Sound, in Wellington, and they have kindly supplied prints of these films for screening at CIFF.
CIFF is very pleased to welcome two Len Lye experts from New Zealand – film historian and Len Lye biographer, Prof Roger Horrocks, and historian and archivist from Nga Taonga Film and Sound Sarah Davy.
On Sunday 5 November at 11am, Roger Horrocks and Sarah Davy will give an illustration presentation about Len Lye and the full scope of his remarkable work. Tickets for this presentation can be booked here (all tickets $10): https://ciff.com.au/event/conversation-with-roger-horrocks-and-sarah-davy-on-len-lye-context-and-archiving/
A full list of Len Lye films in the CIFF program is as follows:
LIFE’S MUSICAL MINUTE (animation, c.1953, 2 mins) – screening before CAT PEOPLE on Thurs 26 October at 6pm
RAINBOW DANCE (animation, 1936, 4 mins) – screening before MY YEAR WITH HELEN on Thurs 26 October at 8.15
N OR NW (live action, 1938, 7 mins) – screening before BRIEF ENCOUNTER on Saturday 28 October at 3.30
WHEN THE PIE WAS OPENED (live action, 1941, 8 mins) – screening before IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY on Sunday 29 October at 3.30
KALEIDOSCOPE (animation, 1935, 3 mins) – screening before OUT OF THE PAST on Thursday 2 November at 6pm
A COLOUR BOX (animation, 1936, 3 mins) – screening before DJAM on Thursday 2 November at 8.15
MUSICAL POSTER #1 (animation, 1942, 2 mins) – screening before WESTERN APPROACHES on Friday 3 November at 8.15
EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATION (1933, 2 mins) – screening before ANNE OF THE INDIES on Saturday 4 November at 1pm
SWINGING THE LAMBETH WALK (animation, 1939, 3 mins) – screening before WHITE CORRIDORS on Saturday 4 November at 5.30