Marc Karlin

BookMarc Karlin

Marc Karlin

Look Again


April 2nd, 2015





This book provides almost the only published material on the work of Marc Karlin. On his death in 1999, Karlin was commemorated as one of the visionaries of independent British film culture, with its roots in the seventies and its expansion in the first decades of Channel 4 television. This edited collection will profile his films and ideas, drawing exclusively on documents and correspondence from his recently recovered archive. It includes appraisals both from his collaborators and eminent film theorists, and is an illuminating addition to the sparse but rapidly expanding field of independent cinema studies. Marc Karlin was an incisive, witty man and a passionate advocate for an inclusive cultural space. He filmed his way through three decades of huge change, wrestling with the challenges of Thatcher’s free market economics; the demise of manufacturing; the imagining of socialist ways forward after the fall of the Berlin Wall; the role of art in society and the shape-shifting impact of digital technologies: all key concerns relevant to our world today. The book is structured through four contextualizing essays followed by twelve chapters expressing the focus and aesthetic of his documentaries and cultural politics. It combines academic analysis with memoir, and includes a recorded discussion on Karlin’s creative practice, his unpublished writings on cinema and over 150 images from his films. With a foreword by UK’s celebrated film director, Sally Potter MBE, this book presents the reader with an illustrated mosaic of encounters engaging with the spirit of this remarkable man, and will ensure that his work is restored to the canon of British cinema.

Contributor Biographies John Akomfrah, OBE, is a director, writer and theorist who creates documentaries, feature films and exhibitions to international critical acclaim. Born in Ghana, he was a founding figure in the influential cine-cultural group Black Audio Film Collective. In 1999 he set up Smoking Dogs Films with his long-term producing partners, David Lawson and Lina Gopaul. His body of work is considered one of the most distinctive and innovative in contemporary Britain Holly Aylett is a film-maker, writer and Senior Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University’s Global Policy Institute, specialising in audio-visual and cultural policy. In the 1980s she co-founded Broadside, the women’s collective which produced Channel 4’s first current affairs strand. With Marc Karlin and others she set up Vertigo magazine, being Managing Editor 2001–10. She founded the Independent Film Parliament, 2003–07, and currently directs the UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity (UKCCD). Jonathan Bloom is a director of photography. He photographed every film directed by Marc Karlin and also worked with many independents of the time including Black Audio Film Collective and Ceddo. With a wide range of work in documentary, commercials and features, his credits include The Last King of Scotland (2006) and Singh is King (2008). Hugh Brody is an anthropologist, author and film-maker. Educated at Oxford, and an Honorary Associate of the Scott Polar Institute at the University of Cambridge, he now holds a Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at the University College of the Fraser Valley. His books include Inishkillane, Maps and Dreams, Means of Escape and The Other Side of Eden. His films include Nineteen Nineteen, The Meaning of Life and Tracks across Sand. Carlos Fernando Chamorro is a Nicaraguan journalist and was editor of the Sandinista daily Barricada between 1979 and 1994. Since 1996, he has been director of the independent media Esta Semana (TV), and Confidencial ( a weekly publication combining investigative journalism and analyses of current affairs. Chamorro also has a radio show called Onda Local (Local Wave) and is president of the Centro de Investigaciones de la Comunicación (CINCO, the Center of Investigations of Communication), a nonprofit research and polling firm in Nicaragua. Michael Chanan is a documentarist, writer and Professor of Film & Video at the University of Roehampton, London. His books include studies of early cinema, Cuban cinema, the social history of music, the history of recording and The Politics of Documentary (2007). He made his first films for BBC2, and several documentaries on Latin America in the 1980s, mostly for Channel 4. More recently, with academic funding, he produced Secret City (2012) and Interrupted Memory (2013). Michael Eaton studied Social Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge before becoming a dramatist working in film, television, radio and theatre. His film Fellow Traveller, about an exiled, blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter writing a children’s version of Robin Hood, won Best Screenplay at the British Film Awards in 1989. His most recent play Charlie Peace – His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend, about the notorious nineteenth-century thief and murderer, premiered at Nottingham Playhouse in 2013. Gareth Evans is a writer, curator, presenter and producer. He was lead editor of Vertigo (2002–09). He programmes PLACE at Aldeburgh Music and has curated numerous film and event seasons across the UK. With Di Robson he produced the essay film Patience (After Sebald) by Grant Gee as part of his nationwide arts project The Re-Enchantment (2008–11). He is Film Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Alan Fountain has been involved in a variety of roles in independent film and television since the mid-1970s and was one of the founding commissioning editors at Channel 4. The Independent Film & Video Department was responsible for offering audiences a fantastic wealth of programmes and films from the UK and many other countries of the world. He is currently President of EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs). John Gianvito is a director, teacher and curator currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. His films include features – The Flower of Pain (1983) and The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001) – and documentaries – Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (2007) and Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010). He has twice ventured into collectivist filmmaking – Address Unknown (1986) and Far from Afghanistan (2012) – and perceives his community as a disparate, impassioned, far-flung constellation of committed directors, writers, programmers, activists and audience members. In 1974, clutching a degree from Oxford University in experimental psychology, David Glynn returned to London. He worked at the London film-makers’ co-op and apprenticed at Lusia Films as a camera assistant. He was a co-founder of Faction Films and an occasional script collaborator with Marc Karlin over many years. In the late 1980s he threw in the towel and trained as a group-analytic psychotherapist, in which capacity he continues to practise. Hermione Harris has a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she is a Research Associate in the Department of Social Anthropology. She was Marc Karlin’s partner, and has written extensively on Nicaragua where she worked for two years. She has also published on ethnic minorities in Britain, particularly from Nigeria. Sex Work and Ceremonies (forthcoming) concerns the rituals involved in trafficking young Nigerian women for prostitution in Europe. Monica Henríquez is a Venezuelan film-maker who has been based in London since the 1980s. She has worked as an editor and director on documentaries about Latin America, the Middle East and the United States for Channel 4, PBS, BBC and ZDF. Her current project is an extensive portrait of Venezuela during the Chávez years. She edited the Marc Karlin productions Scenes for a Revolution (1991) and Nicaragua Part 1: Voyages (1985). Don Macpherson studied English at Cambridge University and worked with Marc Karlin on the script of For Memory for two years while a film critic for Time Out. He became a screenwriter for film and television with credits including The Big Man, The Avengers, Fleming and The Gunman, and worked with directors including Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick. After arguing with Marc over Derrida in French, other collaborations came easily. Susan Meiselas, the US photographer, received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MA in visual education from Harvard University. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America, which were published widely throughout the world, including the monograph Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979, in 1981. Meiselas joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer ever since. Andy Robson is a film archivist. Before archiving Marc Karlin’s work, he was assistant producer on Mosaic Films’ London Recut, an interactive archive project. He was also archive researcher on Emily James’ Just-Do-It. A graduate of the MA in Film Archiving from the University of East Anglia, his placement on the course was with Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope. Sheila Rowbotham helped to start the Women’s Liberation Movement in the early 1970s and has written award-winning books on women’s and labour history. Her poems and two plays have also been published. Her most recent work, Dreamers of a New Day: Women who Invented the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2010) describes American and British women’s ideas and plans for changing daily life from the 1880s to the 1920s. Sukhdev Sandhu directs the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University, and is the publisher of Texte und Töne whose recent titles have been devoted to Wang Bing, Nigel Kneale, Chilean exilic cinema and Jef the Talking Mongoose. Steve Sprung has directed and edited imaginative documentary, experimental and essayistic films and has also worked as a scriptwriter and cameraman. He was a member of Cinema Action during the making of The Miners Film (1974) and So That You Can Live. He is a founder member of the Poster Film Collective and co-director of The Year of the Beaver and Men’s Madness. He edited Marc Karlin’s last four films. Brand Thumim was born in New York and brought up and educated in France from the age of five. He attended the London Film School, worked briefly as an assistant director in Paris and London before becoming an editor. He worked on several of Marc Karlin’s films and, now based in London, has worked on both fiction and documentary for, among others, Bill Douglas, Penny Woolcock, John Akomfrah and Angus MacQueen.

Author Information

Holly Aylett is Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute; Director of the UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity; and Special Adviser to the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA).