The Troublesome Cases

Introduction and Conversation with Simon Field
Screening on Film

This is a collection of “troublesome cases” or mavericks who in different ways worked against the grain of dominant radical film thinking and filmmaking of their time. Brought together across several different issues of Afterimage, they create a fascinating selection with an intriguing continuity across different sensibilities for both a continuation of the spirit of surrealism and the possibilities of animation. Jeff Keen—or Dr Gaz, the flame-torch-bearing persona he developed for his expanded cinema performances—was a one-off eccentric in the British experimental film scene. Blasting forth a deluge of found pop images, he was once memorably described by Raymond Durgnat as a filmmaker who makes films on a shoestring and blows them up to Super 8.

Raúl Ruiz’s work was celebrated in a large part of Issue 10 centered around his films and writing alongside that of Jean Epstein. This was in 1981 before he became widely recognised as an extraordinarily inventive filmmaker and theoretician of cinema. Colloque de chiens makes inspired use of the French tradition of the photo-roman and the relative modesty of an animation budget to describe a murder mystery of a domestic life that paradoxically and disturbingly spirals back upon itself.

Jarman exemplified a new direction in British independent filmmaking: a queer cinema, sensual, theatrical. Afterimage 12 was devoted to his work. Imagining October, in his textured, slow-motion Super 8 style with its frozen, elegiac frames, is—at the same time—a visual meditation on a trip to Moscow (and Eisenstein’s apartment) with other filmmakers, and a passionate denunciation of Thatcher’s Britain.

The final issue of Afterimage turned to a very different tradition of cinema, one that combined surrealism with the fantastic to fully utilise the potential of animation to create the marvelous or the uncanny. Rich in black humour, Jan Svankmajer’s Surrealist films astonish with their invention and originality. Dimensions of Dialogue is a classic example.

The Troublesome Cases introduction and post-screening discussion with Simon Field and HFA Director Haden Guest.


  • Meatdaze

    Directed by Jeff Keen.
    UK, 1968, 35mm, color, 8 min.
    Print source: BFI
  • Dog’s Dialogue (Colloque de chiens)

    Directed by Raúl Ruiz.
    France, 1977, 35mm, color, 22 min.
    French with English subtitles.
    Print source: Cinémathèque Française
  • Imagining October

    Directed by Derek Jarman.
    UK, 1984, DCP, color, 27 min.
    DCP source: James MacKay
  • Dimensions of Dialogue

    Directed by Jan Svankmajer.
    Czechoslovakia, 1983, 35mm, color, 12 min.
    Czech with English subtitles.
    Print source: Athanor

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Afterimage… For a New, Radical Cinema