GAZWRX The Films of Jeff Keen
Born in 1923 and a soldier in World War Two, Jeff Keen began making films at the age of 37 – prompted by a deficit of screenings at the local art school film society. So began over forty years of unique, imaginative, irrepressible filmmaking that's outlived the various scenes in which it thrived: the 1960s counter-culture, punk and beyond.

The British Film Institute has released a boxed set which brings together the films of the Jeff Keen, one of the most important and challenging of British experimental filmmakers. This release contains over 9 hours of films and videos which encompass the visionary filmmaker’s 60s beatnik movies and his multi-layered videos of the 90s, including the celebrated Marvo Movie (1967) and Mad Love (1978). As such, this collection provides an excellent introduction and overview to the work of one maverick, independent, underground British filmmaker.

Formally, the films range from post-apocalyptic home movies to Keen’s reflections on his World War Two experiences, and often reflect his interest in the so-called ‘trash’ popular culture of B movies and comics, alongside surrealism. Keen (aka Dr Gaz) has been called Britain’s answer to American underground cinema figures such as Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol. Born in 1923, the Brighton-based Keen started making 8mm films when he was nearing 40 – an inspiration to the late artistic developers among us. He helped develop the important London Film-makers Co-operative in 1966, and was a key figure in the development of Expanded Cinema. He died in July 2012 at the age of 88.

The four DVDs in the box set present over forty of Keen’s films. What comes across on viewing this beautifully presented material is the vast range of Keen’s experimentation. Keen works with multiple screens and noise soundtracks, for example. He also uses a range of film stocks, preferring 8mm, which he saw as a potentially oppositional, disposable, form. His interest lies not with film as a form that might capture reality, but instead the potential richness of surreal visual imagery – how film images might have the power to problematize and pull at our experience of everyday life. He is a master of the processes of animation, of collage, and of rapid editing to set up powerful rhythms. Often images are cut together at a furious pace, and feature strobes or other bright lighting. Keen also often uses props – purloined from skips and rubbish dumps – and spray paints them. Sometimes these are set on fire and filmed. There is a wonderfully DIY/homemade aesthetic to much of his work, and the films often feature his family and friends.

The first DVD includes early 16mm films, such as Cineblatz (1967), Rayday Film (1968-70 and 1976) and Dr G’s home movies, including The Cartoon Theatre of Dr Gaz (1976-9), and White Dust (1972).

The second DVD includes Super 8mm and 16mm films such as Keen’s Family Star diary films, Self Portrait films and Artwar Super 8 films of the 1990s.

The third DVD features more early 8mm films such as Wail (1960), Breakout (1962), Instant Camera (1964-5 and 2007) and The Pink Auto (1964). This disc also features Family Star Continued (The Mutt & Jeff Icecream Sundae + Mothman) and Self Portrait Continued (Spontaneous Combustion).

The fourth DVD contains Keen’s video works – Rayday Videos, Artwar Videos, and an informative documentary, Jeff Keen Films (1983), which shows the artist at work in Brighton.

-- New filmed interview with Jeff Keen.
-- Art Flies Free (2000): experimental documentary by Ian Helliwell.
-- Jeff Keen Films (1983): documentary with interview.

4 x DVD9 | PAL | 585 minutes | 26.8 Gb + 3% rec
Language: no dialogues

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