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At the Valletta Film Festival 2016


Still from “Green” by Sebastian Kite

Debut: Monday 6th June, from 10pm
Café Society, 13 St Johns Street, Valletta VLT 1168, Malta

Following the success of the inaugural edition of Valletta Film Festival (VFF) in June 2015, Film Grain Foundation presents the second edition of the festival from Friday 3rd to Saturday 11th June 2016.
As a new sidebar to the programme, London-based curators Andrew Hancock and Tani Burns of ARTNAKED have chosen a selection of leading international visual artists working in the media of film to present as a series of ‘Art Shorts’. Submissions were received from around the world, and the final curation comprises an impressive roster of critically appraised and award-winning artworks, alongside several artists who have recently been shown in either art biennales or film festivals globally. All artwork to be shown as part of the ‘ARTNAKED Art Shorts’ series is previously unseen on the Maltese islands.
Encompassing animation, puppetry, abstract and surrealist video artwork, ‘Art Shorts’ juxtaposes the gruesome with the serene, the political with the purely aesthetic. Christopher Gray’s new work, “Death by Chair”, recently announced winner of the prestigious XL Catlin Art Prize, portrays through puppetry the gruesome scene of a medieval torture chamber, in stark contrast to Bongsu Park’s “Lethe River”, a captivating vision of light and movement choreographed through the filming and manipulation of traditional Korean dance, the artist’s interpretation of the Grecian myth alluded to in the work’s title. Wu Xiaohai’s animated drawing, created during a time of social distress in the artist’s natice China, stands as a foretelling of China’s recent and current social issues, while Vasiliisa Forbes presents the objectification of women in pop art and media through a visual arts campaign, stylised in the manner of a 'fashion film'. Andrew Hancock, presenting a fresh cut of his 30 minute contribution to last year’s Moscow Biennale, refers back to the art world itself, a playful, satirical, colourful and illuminating piece, rich in Art History and the struggles of the contemporary arts. Shin Kiwoun, also, considers the notion of value – this time in relation to the value and power of modern commodities, both in their being and in their destruction.
This year’s VFF will include a number of new elements intended to enrich the audience experience and expand it, including a curated strand of video art sourced from around the globe. ARTNAKED, the London-based curators, have been invited by the directors of VFF to curate this series of ‘Art Shorts’, a loop of video or filmic art to be shown in the heart of the city during the festival. Following their recent successes and contributions to the burgeoning art scene and cultural landscape of Malta – including the cultural sponsorship and part-curation of the Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale (November 2015 – January 2016), ARTNAKED’s Directors Andrew Hancock and Tani Burns, are delighted to return to the islands to present new, exciting and unseen content to such a discerning audience.
The loop – debuting on Monday 6th June at Café Society in Valletta – will be presented in various public places in Malta’s capital city, Valletta, which gears itself ever more to take on the mantle of European Capital of Culture in 2018.



Operatic Clay


Holly Birtles investigates the relationship between human expression, performance, tactility and the flat photographic document. The process obscures the surface of photographs, introducing a suggestion of three dimension and physicality. The act of re-photographing (flattening) is used as an antagonistic tool, eradicating vital sensory perceptions posed by the tangible and lumpy objects.
The short film ‘Operatic clay’ presents a range of stills that coincided with a project exploring operatic singers in the act of performance. The opera singers were photographed throughout singing; the portraits were then corrupted through visceral mark-making, using predominately paint and clay. ‘Operatic Clay’ isolates the applications of: lumps of clay, montages of horse bums, bridesmaids flashing and re- appropriates them into a fast pace film projection. Previously the work has shown in conjunction with large scale portraits, books and operatic performances.
Birtles continues to integrate performance portraits and the construction of physical objects. Recent staged subject matter performed on request includes actors reciting chanted poems in repetition 70s British rock band Dr Feel Good expressing negative words on repetition (project: Dr Feel Bad), iconic/web-based found imagery and sax player Terry Edwards repetitively playing a C sharp.  Performance techniques such as chanting, singing and repeating specific lines or words are constructed as a response from the James Lange Theory of Emotion, insinuating that the performance of an expression causes emotional activity only after cognitive evaluation of the event. This technique is arguably fictitious, which coincides with the nature of the project and in fact the nature of memory or subjective nostalgia.

Plaine du Nord


Gina Cunningham learned the language and culture of Haiti, after traveling there often; to research tropical food, to teach after the earthquake and to participate in local art events with Haitian artists. Plaine du Nord is part of a video series, a unique spiritual journey which captures the raw passion displayed during Vodou festivals. These events celebrate the rich pantheon of the gods of nature and take place deep in the mountainous countryside where fierce, African spirits take possession of the participants.
Best known for designing and creating South Beach's iconic Tap Tap where she curated exhibitions. Gina Cunningham taught art and film in the USA, and for impoverished students in Haiti and India. Gina's been awarded residencies in Miami, India, Korea and Iceland. She performed with pop artist Kenny Scharf during Art Basel Miami and at New York's Deitch Projects. She created installations for the three ghetto Biennales in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her digital video work has been featured in recent international video festivals.

Wax / Something Else


Wax is part of a series that discusses the objectification of women in pop art and media through a visual arts campaign. The visual aspect of the video is arranged to appear at first as a conventional or commonly stylised 'fashion film', but as the narrative of both the music and subtitled lyrics develop, the underlying darkness and meaning of the film is revealed, descending into extreme objectification towards the end.
Teaming the incredible force of real, existing song-lyrics from contemporary and early 20th Century pop-music (including famous artists like John Lennon, Black Flag, Def Leppard, Rolling Stones, Slayer, Weezer, Madonna), set against the highly sexualised, objectifying imagery, the question of our acceptance of tones of dialogue, pornography and the impact of popular culture are raised.
Vasilisa Forbes is a fashion photographer / film-maker / video-director who Is also the brains behind the #WaxChick project, about which she recently spoke at the ICA as part of the London Short film Festival, at which she also screened work. Controversial and thought-provoking, her focus on female sexuality in the insidious world of advertising is always eye-opening. WAXCHICK became a billboard story across various global cities; NYC, London, Tel Aviv, St Petersburg. She has been a contributing photographer to various magazines like Dazed, I-D, Vice and Super Super and has been exhibited and held/supported by collections like Saatchi, Art Contemporian in Paris, Barbican, Baltic, Art Naked, Thank You Editions.

Digi Sculpture Loops


Digi-Sculpture Loops is a series of animations and digitalised effects manifesting in to what appear as kinetic sculptures, which seem to exist but that on the screen are not even physical entities. All the works are based on a state of flux in the studio. Objects and tools appear as if they have come to life. 
Crystals that have been grown by the artist begin to spin and melt, paintings start to flip and warp, and digital doughnuts turn as if they are rotating on a sculptural turntable.

Death by Chair


Christopher Gray is the most recent winner of the prestigious XL Catlin Art Prize, which he was awarded on 17th May for his video artwork Death by Chair, presented now during the Valletta Film Festival. This filmed puppet show is set in an ancient torture chamber. There are two executioners, the ‘psycho-brothers’ as the artist calls them. Using the body of a dead chicken and using it to create a humanoid being, the idea is to replicate a gruesome act of medieval torture, yet in the sense of doing so through the filter of the artist’s own imagination.
An ex-boxer and graduate of Goldsmith’s University in London, Gray grew up watching horror films from an early age: “I was always fascinated by the replication of violence in film and I am intrigued by how the graphic nature of it has increased over the passed fifty years. When I began to develop my puppets within the context of fine art I was initially focused on replicating boxers with my hands. At this point I began to make filmed performances and later I also began to work on live performances. I have recently begun to make films that focus on the theme of medieval violence. I have drawn inspiration from observing the way medieval violence has been replicated in contemporary fiction. I am compelled by the duality of fear and fascination that it evokes.”
Gray’s method is to re-form his hands by attaching prosthetic limbs to his fingers, so as to replicate the human figure in motion. Through this he has endeavored to bring the physical dynamics of pugilism into my practice. Although this involves replication (with the use of my hands) it is also a demonstration of a desire to become something more. 

Oracle I. (Temple of the Unseen Artist) – remastered


The ‘Temple’ is built of an immersive landscape of ‘art-world altarpieces’. Viewers, immersed in a temple of aesthetic delight for a digital age, enter a shrine of imagery and sound, in which are celebrated the muses, death, work, chaos and harmony. All is dedicated to a new Apollo, the mystical, powerful, vast and faceless god Technology who leads our fate. Playful, satirical and illuminating, rich in Art History and the struggles of the contemporary arts, this ‘Shrine’ is a conceptual masterpiece, a pilgrimage for the weary art world dilettante. 
Andrew is a UK born artist with a rich family heritage in Malta. With a rapidly growing following in the UK and internationally, he has developed an extensive network of professional art world associates to enable the development of larger art projects worldwide. The importance of his oeuvre is in part borne from his parallel experience as a professional within the wider art economy, manifest in artworks created while engaging critically within the wider cultural sphere. The sensitivities in his work, whether plastic or conceptual, have garnered positive responses in a variety of diverse cultures due to an artistic and universal relevance, with consideration of recurrent and timeless themes of the spiritual, the corporeal and the relational. Despite a practice that is constantly evolving, Andrew Hancock’s work remains heavily steeped in the mythologies of artistic practice and the struggle with the specificities of key art materials. These are facets which may alter with technological or material developments, but which remain significant in spite of time and place.

Nine Days, Eight Months and Twenty Nine Years


Qin Jin was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, in 1976, and lives in Guangzhou, where she is a lecturer at the oil painting department of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Her range of artistic mediums is very broad, touching on painting, photography, installation, performance and video. Her solo exhibitions include Delete, Guangdong Museum of Art, 2006; Getting to Know You Again, Magician Space, 2009; andClose Your Eyes, Dear, Sabaki Space, 2012. Exhibition projects include We Are the Victim of Blessedness, a joint exhibition with Zhang Chunyang at the Shenzhen OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, 2006; Olhares Interiores: Documentaries of Chinese Performance Art, at the Macao Museum of Art, 2008; and Hong Kong and Macao, He Xiangning Art Museum, 2008.
"I ironed clothing until it burned. I like cleaning the bathroom best among household chores because the skill set is not difficult and the results are clear. Ironing ranks second; ironing is work that requires both care and patience as well as a grasp of the essentials. It is finally a very special and not easily discovered way of expressing one’s emotions. Washing, airing and ironing the clothes one wears (or those of others, strangers for example) is like farming, reciting scripture, and breathing every day...
I look back on my life aspirations and there is one in particular whose importance I still feel, hidden behind everything I do. I questioned myself on this constantly and endured everything so that I might someday be able to answer it: I wanted to achieve a certain view on life. This view would allow me, in the midst of my unceasing decline, to gain a certain flexibility; at times of dramatic life changes I could still clearly see that it was an illusion, or a dream, a single sway. Many years later, I discovered that this ambition of mine was not an ambition but only a defense mechanism, since a powerlessness had always filled my world, an indifference unspoken yet known by everyone. In this age I have no way of confirming what I believe in deeply—even keeping an introspective diary is seen as out of sync with the times. Here, that kind of desire developed into this unexplainable action, which looks so violent and determined, and which later became like a kind of ceremony for that desire, a private commemoration rite, too embarrassing to tell anyone else about.”
Selected in partnership with China Culture Connect (UK)



Sebastian Kite (b. 1986) is an installation artist, architect, set designer and maker based in London. Kite creates experiential environments to choreograph the sensory engagement of people with architectural spaces. His practice lies at the intersection of art and architecture, with a particular focus on site-specificity. Beginning with an analysis of the site, Kite's installations use structure, kinetics, light, projection and sound as strategies to illustrate new readings of spaces.
“Green” is a short film Kite made as part of the multimedia course with Kathy Hinde and Matthew Fairclough at Dartington International Summer School 2015. Inspired by Henri Rousseau’s fantastical painting of the jungles, this short film presents windows into the Dartington garden focusing on elements of green and juxtaposes jurassic plants with the linear features of the formal garden. Each scene is composed to be viewed as a still photograph, but in the detail, light is active. At the centre of the frame, a circle acts as both a lens and mirror, shifting the depth of the field, creating optical slippages of the garden. The soundtrack was created through live improvisation in an impressionist style, mixed with the environmental sound.
Kite graduated as an architect in 2010 (Glasgow School of Art, Westminster School of Architecture) and also has a background in music. Kite co-established Kite & Laslett, an art and design studio in London. The duo realise projects from technical drawings via engineering solutions through construction to installation. To date, Kite & Laslett have exhibited large-scale installations in London, Milan, Berlin, New York, Hannover, Glasgow and The Hague. Audiences have encountered their projects in off-sites such as prisons, railway stations, bunkers and warehouses, but also the white cube gallery.

Dis-illusion Coin-Face, 2007
Approach the Truth Alarm Clock, 2006


Shin Kiwoun’s work focuses on existentialist themes such as time, reality, being, illusion and disappearance: “The ‘disappearance’ I think of, means rather ‘birth’. There is a presupposition that everything is not different from each other before it is born. I wanted to visually show the fact that the beginning and the start of an existence are not different through the physical action of ‘grinding’. I tried to strengthen the intensity of ‘disappearance’ by choosing something everyone wants to have, as the object to be ground.” (the artist)
In his project ‘Approach the Truth’ and the work ‘Dis-illusion’, Shin terminates objects such as a mobile phone, a clock, an I-pod, English grammar books and coins. They are modern commodities and objects that somehow represent authorities and powers in our society. The artist designed various grinding machines to terminate these objects and filmed the process of crushing them. The expensive goods are transformed into dust and thus lose their value and power – they become nothing. On the other hand, they claim their true vitality through death.
Shin recently presented a solo exhibition Movement/Anti-Movement at Esplanade: Singapore Art Centre in Singapore and exhibited in the Liverpool Biennial (2010). He was a recipient of New Contemporaries 2010. His works are included in private and public collections such as Arko Museum Media Achieve in Seoul and Mori Art Museum in Japan. Shin graduated with a MFA from Goldsmiths College in 2010. Recently, he has had many international residency programs, including at The Guest House in Cork, Ireland, Raumas in Rauma, Finland, Lademoen in Trondheim, Norway.

Selected in partnership with Hanmi Gallery.

Lethe River


Bongsu Park uses dance and music to explore her theme. Dressed in traditional Korean dance attire, her character in the work ‘Lethe’ separates into three overlaid time frames; the visual composition creates harmony and dissonance as the dancer travels into oblivion. This passage of life, death and reincarnation is the artist's interpretation of the Grecian myth referenced in the work’s title, where the dead were required to drink the river's water in order to forget the experience of mortality.
Park completed her MA at the Slade School of Art (London) in 2013. In Korea and Japan, her early interest in photography blossomed to incorporate other media. Her diverse education includes studying at the École des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux where she developed her work thorough a diverse range of media, including video and installation. More recently, she has collaborated with a number of choreographers to integrate dance into her video works as well as live performances, including Platform 1 at Camden Arts Centre in London. Now London based, she has exhibited internationally. What unifies her work is a sustained and developing interest in the cycle of life: the fundamental questions of birth and death, growth and decay.
Selected in partnership with Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery.

Mama I Feel Sick


Wu Xiaohai graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing. He has held several solo shows and participated in collective exhibitions in Beijing, Madrid, Basel, Paris, Hong Kong, and Thailand. His work is in the collection of the FRAC Collection and the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.
Recently acquired by the French government art collection, his animation film ‘Mama I Feel Sick’ is a prime example of the transformative power of his work – bringing drawing to animation and responding to a series of social issues in China. In this film, with retrospect, we can see how forecasts have been made on notorious social issues in China, following on from such events occurring at the time of its making – such as earthquakes, toxic milk scandals and high-speed train accidents.
In 2008 he was named one of the “Ten Artists of the Future” by Beaux Art Magazine, Paris. in 1999, his work “In the Book” won the Award for Excellence of The National News Publication Bureau Fine Arts Work Exhibition, Beijing, and his “Bridge” won the Okamatsu Family Fund Art Award in 1997.
Wu was a research fellow of University of the Arts London in the year of 2011 and 2012.
Selected in partnership with China Culture Connect (UK)

Cooked Snow


Xiaowen Zhu is a documentary filmmaker, media artist, curator and writer. Described as a visual poet, social critic, and aesthetic researcher, she uses video, photography, performance, installation and mixed media as platforms to communicate the complex experience of being an international person and to wrestle with the notion of a disembodied identity.
Cooked Snow illustrates the limitations of conveying accurate thought (and therefore creating a seamless expression of ‘the self’) when speaking in a third language. ‘Cooked Snow’ shows tableau broken by text, beginning with a serene lake superimposed upon a woman’s torso, moving to a landscape with a fried egg sunset cooked on a buttered stomach. A narrative voice speaking a combination of German and gibberish explains that snow melts and a stomach needs to be shaved. During this descent into the inexplicable, distance is created as the meaning of the voice recedes further and further. The systemic return to disconnected text further implies abstract meaning that attempts to convey sensations beyond the realm of language.
Selected in partnership with China Culture Connect (UK)






The highly acclaimed American film director Terry Gilliam will be celebrated at this year’s Valletta Film Festival through the screening of a number of his films as part of the Masters of Cinema section.

Gilliam has brought his visionary and unusual mindset to an array of films that continue to provoke debate and entice audiences into new worlds of wonder and fantasy. Following a spell with the Monty Python team he broke into directing with Jabberwocky and has since thrilled and amazed cinemagoers with titles such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, The Fisher King, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Time Bandits. He is currently in pre-production on the on his long-delayed adaptation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote 17 years after it was abandoned. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will begin filming in September.

The free screenings of films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Fisher King and Brothers Grimm will take place from Saturday 4 June to Friday 10 June at Pjazza San Ġorġ. 

Every year, the festival celebrates the cinema of a film director by showing a retrospective of his or her works aimed at bringing local audiences closer to world cinema. In 2015, the festival celebrated the works of Giuseppe Tornatore.  


Sir Alan Parker, the director of Midnight Express is to return to Malta for a special screening of the 1978 classic to be held at Fort St. Elmo, where parts of the film were shot.

The British director whose filmography includes Mississippi Burning, Evita, Fame, Pink Floyd the Wall and The Life of David Gale will be in Malta on Saturday 4 June 2016. Prior to the screening, Sir Alan will be talking about the making of this film, his career as a filmmaker and cinema.

‘Midnight Express’ tells the true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. This event is being held to celebrate the links that the city of Valletta has with cinema.

In fact, as far as cinemas are concerned, Valletta can proudly claim its status as one of the foremost pioneers since the first cinema in the city opened only thirteen months after the exhibition of the first film in Paris in December 1895. For almost a century, Valletta has appeared in many audiovisual productions and it keeps lending itself to renowned directors that choose its diversity to actuate their dreams. Films such as World War Z, Munich, Agora and the upcoming Assassins Creed and The Promise have all used Valletta as their backdrop. Midnight Express was the first film to be filmed in the Capital City that went on to gain international acclaim by winning two Oscars in 1979 for screenplay (by Oliver Stone) and score.


The second edition of VFF will also consist of three competitive sections for independently produced feature films, documentaries and short films and three non-competitive sections – ISLANDERS, WITHOUT BORDERS and MASTERS OF CINEMA. Eight TRITON AWARDS will be handed out by 3 international juries to the BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER, BEST SCREENPLAY, BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST DOCUMENTARY AND BEST SHORT FILM.


Without Borders, is another non-competitive section of the festival that focuses on cinema from a particular country or region. The first edition of the festival focused on Scandinavia and exhibited 5 films from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Greenland.

In 2016, Without Borders will focus on the cinema of the Middle East.


Islanders is open to productions that are mainly set on islands or produced by filmmakers that are citizens or residents of an island. There are 49 islands in the world that are sovereign states and just as many that are dependent on other states or regions. There are also thousands of unpopulated islands, scattered like little dots, on the map of this planet that we call home.

Islanders is a cinematic archipelago of our planet, set in one of the smallest capitals of Europe – Valletta.


From 2016, Valletta Film Festival will have a new competitive section consisting of five to seven coming of age pictures with themes related to young audiences particularly teens between the ages of 13 and 18 years. The introduction of this section will help create a bridge between filmmakers and young audiences and will serve as a platform for discussions on subjects of interest to young people. Audiences attending screenings in this section will be invited to vote for the TRITON TEENS CHOICE AWARD that will be announced during the closing ceremony of the film festival on Saturday 11th June 2016.