Review of Film Free and Easy Christmas Cracker at Primary
3 December 2015

Joseph Winsborrow

A deeply immersive and joyfully interactive evening, Primary was truly a technological playground during their Film Free and Easy Christmas Cracker event. More a pleasantly rowdy gathering than anything else pertaining to the typical tropes of ‘exhibition’, the Christmas Cracker was a perfect excuse to hide away from bitter winter winds and find cinematic fun within the appropriated school building.

The event marked the third occasion of Film Free and Easy, and still held the values of the previous events. With a lengthy list of names showing work, the evening boasted an eclectic range of installed work from artists and filmmakers, all the while showing that sensibility of “do it yourself” while still holding a wonderful level of quality and proficiency, creatively and imaginatively respecting the materiality of filmmaking. There was no snobbery to be had during the night, with its lo-tech and accessible means and the friendly disposition of the curators and artists involved, it removed itself far from the typical sterile film screenings one might be accustomed to. Being able to engage with the work as well having the opportunity to talk with the present artists, I left the event feeling particularly refreshed, with a revived inspiration for filmmaking and a thirst for enquiry.

With the installation work being spread throughout most of the ground floor and the mezzanine, as well as some artist studio spaces, it was clear to see that most of the work was well considered and creatively designed. One key highlight for me was the jubilantly colourful work of Jim Boxall. His intricate install was a menagerie of kit – both lo- and hightech – and an epitome of the celebration of all forms of video, much like Film Free and Easy itself. A curiously performative work, Jim tinkered and manoeuvred his equipment live in front of the inquisitive spectators, creating a myriad of moving colours and images. A whimsical presentation of contemporary moving image, Jim perfectly highlighted the malleability of technology and how one can think outside the box to create sophisticated yet-fun work.

Acting as a sort of antithesis to Jim’s open-air, no-secrets-withheld install, the work by REACTOR shown in their studio space was (almost) frustratingly difficult to glimpse. The studio door being locked or otherwise blockaded, the only possible way to see the work was to peer forcibly through the glass panes, revealing chunks of the video to be seen in the reflection of a mirror. I always take great delight in being forced to interact with work in particular ways – often we take the freedom to lazily look at things for granted. It’s eerie nature and slightly unsettling atmosphere ended up fitting in quite well with the more “fun” and cheery pieces, more for the feel of DIY and creative install than anything else.

The screened films taking place along side the installed work were equally fascinating and delightful. A varied and extensive mix of themes, formats, and tone, a particular favourite of mine was Chloe Langlois’ ‘Starpower’ – an eccentric and funny film, it held no airs of superiority, and relished in making film for the simple sake of fun. That isn’t to say that any  of the “less jovial” works were not enjoyable of course, it’s just that sometimes something fun to laugh with is exactly what’s needed.

One can only imagine the audio and visual pleasures Primary will host in the future, and I eagerly look forward to attending their future events. A welcoming and good-humoured event, the organisers and the space offer up a chance for anybody with an interest in film to showcase and become immersed in work, even if it’s simply to hide away from the rest of the world for an evening.

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