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A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS

Director: BEN RIVERS, BEN RUSSELL

98 minutes, France-Estonia-Germany, 2013, Colour, D-Cinema


EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI

This film closes on Thursday, September 18th.

Following a character who we first meet on the periphery of a 15-person commune in Estonia, experimental filmmakers Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s first venture as co-directors is an examination of darkness that begins in silence and ends with a 35-minute sequence of spellbinding clamour. Distinctly split into three parts linked together by Robert A.A. Lowe’s enigmatic central protagonist, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness is what the filmmakers describe as “a radical proposition for the existence of utopia in the present.”

Documentary-like in its presentation, the scenes at the commune suggest a cosy but outdated attempt to realise ideals and this is accentuated when Lowe travels alone through the Finnish wilderness, where a sublime natural world nevertheless remains unattainable. The final episode, in which Lowe electrifies as frontman for a Norwegian black metal band is suitably stark and revelatory. (Notes by Alice Butler.)

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★★★★★ Slant Magazine

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