Press On, Comrades

There’s been a bit of press this season. Leftwing daily Dagens ETC ran an interview with us in anticipation of our summer screening in Höja. Then they also ran a promo/ad for our screening in Katrineholm in August. The magazine published by the national artists’ union, Konstnären, had a piece about us in their latest issue, on the theme of politics&art.

poster 1

Waiting around the corner is the latest issue of Fält Magazine, soon to be published by Art Lab Gnesta. It includes a lengthy interview with us, and as a special treat the poster that Sara Granér did for us will be included, with important info printed on the back. The poster has been very popular and we ran out of free give-aways almost immediately last summer, so this will be a new chance for those who missed out the first time around. Get a copy of Fält #9 and you get a riso-printed Sunshine Socialist poster for your fridge door as a fine bonus!

poster 2

The back of the poster is designed and illustrated by Emanuel Hallklint. It’s a variation on or manual, really. Here’s an excerpt of the text…

Manual - Sunshine Socialist Cinema - V3.pdf


sunsoccin blog house

Election results are in. You may be wondering whether our presence in the village of Höja in the countryside of northwest Skåne has affected the way people vote there. Has eight years of socialist and environmentalist discourse swayed any minds? Well.

så röstade Höja 2018

Good news first: the socialist party, V, has doubled their share of the votes, from 1.4 per cent to 3! Bad news then: every other figure shown above. The fascist party (yellow bar) now attracts one third of the voting citizens of Höja. The Green party lost half their local votes, from 4.5 per cent to 2.1.

Of course, this is partly our fault, and we will try to remedy things over the next four years. Hope you stick around!

sunsoccin street poster


Program 2018: The Fiesta!

As previously stated elsewhere: On Saturday August 18 we’ll be presenting the first ever film festival in Katrineholm. Five films shown, plus various bobs and bits in between. The clips, pics and bits of chitchat we will use during presentation and audience interaction have been re-mixed from previous screenings this summer – the Disastrous screening and the Election Special screening. And the festival is influenced by comments and thoughts from those previous audiences, even down to the selection of films.

Knotweed 2

The Giant Knotweed Panflute Ensemble by Ingela Ihrman

The Giant Knotweed Panflute Ensemble by Ingela Ihrman will be screened continuously from 17.00 in one of the greenhouses. Quoting from the artists website:

“The Giant Knotweed is a garden escapee with Japanese roots that Environmental Protection Agencies in Europe and North America classifies as an invasive specie. Companies in these regions use poison, dynamite and excavators to help land owners in despair who want to get rid of “the growing curse of the Giant Knotweed”. By making pan flutes of it’s hollow stems, I suggest a different relation to the Giant Knotweed, based on mutuality and creativity.

In April 2015 eight people living in Malmö visited the place next to a highway where the knotweed stems that I made the flutes from once grew. Each member of “The Japanese Knotweed Panflute Ensemble” choose a flute and spent time in the shrubbery. The situation resembled a plant meditation or a “jam session” where perception and breathing was as important as playing tunes on the flutes. We closed our eyes, filled our lungs with air and listened to the roar from the highway and other sounds together.”

Knotweed 5

The Giant Knotweed Panflute Ensemble by Ingela Ihrman

Program 2018: The Festival!

On Saturday August 18 we’ll be presenting the first ever film festival in Katrineholm. Five films shown, plus various bobs and bits in between. The festival takes place inside the solar panel park run by ETC. The park is like an extended showroom for alternative energy solutions, soon to become mainstream. Check out their site for pics, presentation, and directions –

Gnsta Riso 2

Riso-printed posters, Gnesta

Inside one of the greenhouses, among the tomato plants, we’ve got a couple of films going on repeat, from around five o’clock. One of the films is Donna Haraway: Storytelling For Earthly Survival by Fabrizio Terranova. Quoting from the website:

“Donna Haraway’s groundbreaking work in science, technology, gender and trans-species relationships over the last four decades is marked by her deep commitments to feminism and environmentalism. Refusing to distinguish between humans and animals and machines, she proposed new ways of understanding our world that challenge normative structures and boundaries. Her approach to writing is equally distinct, breaking with prevailing trends in theory by embracing narrative techniques in painting a rebellious and hopeful future.”

Check out the trailer at

donna haraway

Donna Haraway: Storytelling For Earthly Survival by Fabrizio Terranova

Outdoor screening begins around nine in the evening, on a cinema screen set up in a field of solar panels. We’ve got popcorn popped and cinnamon buns baked in a solar oven. Entry and snacks are free. Check back shortly for more info on the films to be shown!

The festival is arranged in cooperation with Art Lab Gnesta, who we’ll be working with some more over the coming year. Check out their site for info on an amazing greenhouse project, and a swamp biennale among other great things –

Our work with the festival is funded by Konstfrämjandet –

Gnesta Riso 1

Riso-printed posters, Gnesta



Program 2018: We Just Do As We’re Told

The Swedish employment agency has registered 400 000 unemployed, and there are 40 000 jobs advertised – what then is the true function of the employment agency? And how do the people who work at the employment agency feel about the meaning of their work?

Vi Bara Lyder _ foto Fredrik Wenzel copy

Vi Bara Lyder, foto Fredrik Wenzel

In 2015 sociologist researcher Roland Paulsen published his study of the Swedish employment agency in the format of a reportage book, Vi bara lyder (We just do as we’re told). The book was turned into a script for Malmö Puppet Theatre, and the play Funktionell Dumhet (Functional stupidity) debuted the same year. In the play, the authentic lines from Paulsen’s study were voiced by cardboard puppets. Now the play has been filmed, and edited into a 30 minute documentary, by director Erik Holmström and filmmaker Fredrik Wenzel.

Vi Bara Lyder Roland foto Fredrik Wenzel

Vi Bara Lyder, foto Fredrik Wenzel

What is the true function of the employment agency? Well for one thing, they have provided us with a number of statistics which we will go through in connection with the screening on Thursday!

Vi Bara Lyder Väntrum foto Fredrik Wenzel copy

Vi Bara Lyder, foto Fredrik Wenzel

Program 2018: Are You Team Aniston Or Are You Team Jolie?

Screening in Höja on Thursday 19 July, and it’s an Election Special! Come by and help us make sense of this thing? We can talk about pizzas and personal voting, about hope found in demographics, about morality in the face of material reality.

Among the films shown will be Team Jolie by Hannah Black.

Hannah Black_Team Jolie 002.png

Hannah Black, Team Jolie, 2014 (still). Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa.

In the video Team Jolie we get to consider a number of statements which at first seem like arguments pro and con the two actresses Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie – not just regarding which of the two is a better soul mate for Brad Pitt but also everything concerning what they mean and stand for as icons. Are you Team Aniston or are you Team Jolie?

Hannah Black_Team Jolie 001.png

Hannah Black, Team Jolie, 2014 (still). Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa.

Rather than recounting a sexist media narrative, Team Jolie becomes both a poetic reflection and a theoretical analysis, point by point and line by line. Quoting from the script of the film:

Single bass beat. [Image of Jennifer Aniston’s left eye and text that reads “Team Aniston”]

I wanted to like her but I couldn’t. I could not stand her desire to be liked. I punished her minutely by withholding my affection as if this could do anything but affirm her power. Her achievement was the mirror of an indescribable failure. Even though when it became clear that although she was a machine for producing affection, she too had failed to be loved, I was not sure that I could forgive her the ease that she had previously been.

Single bass beat. [Image of Angelina Jolie’s lips and nose and text that reads “Team Jolie”]

Because pain is for everyone, she represented the fierce enjoyment of pain with whatever necessary emptiness in present social conditions. Someone who once really made me suffer or who was the premise for suffering I somehow may have wanted sent me some lines from Marx where Marx seems to suggest that in communism we might experience pain and pleasure differently. I was pleased to see a solution to the problem of who in communism would work in the sewers—perhaps even the smell of shit will be experienced differently then. Perhaps, like animals, we will no longer be alienated from what Benjamin calls “the most lost forgotten land of our own bodies.”




Screening: The Free Election

On Thursday July 19 we’ll be screening a micro-filmfestival at our main facility in Höja. Gates open at 21, screening begins at 21.30. Since this is an election year in Sweden, our screening has been themed and titled as Det Fria Valet – translated as The Free Election or The Free Choice.

We’ve got films and videos from Malmö Dockteater, Hannah Black, and David Blandy. Check back with us at the blog for more info on the films over the next few days. To figure out how they relate to the Swedish election, though, you’ll have to come on over to the screening on Thursday! It’s free.

The What And The How: Sebastian Dahlqvist And A Cinema Of The People

Folkets_Bio_-_Malmö-1989 utomhusvisning

Folkets Bio arranging outdoor screenings, here at Lilla Torg in Malmö, 1989. Photo by Jonn Leffmann (CC, from Wikipedia).

Sebastian Dahlqvist, artist and curator, used to be the chairperson at Folkets Bio (the Peoples’ Cinema) in Lund We asked him about a debate within the Folkets Bio-organization about ten years ago, regarding a formulation in the statutes drawn up by the founders of the organization in 1973. The original founding document claims that Folkets Bio is intended to be “a socialist cinema”.

The definition of the organization as socialist was taken out of the statutes around the same time that we started our own socialist outdoors cinema in 2012. The reasons for the proposition to take this term out of the statutes were several. It was claimed that the financing of local cinemas within the organization was becoming more and more dependent on sponsorships, and that it would be impossible to find sponsors for a cinema which called itself socialist. It was claimed that not all people might feel welcome to visit screenings and to discuss films afterwards if they felt that their political views were not aligned with those of the cinema, which meant that a socialist cinema might not be a cinema for the people (Folkets Bio means The Cinema of the People). It was claimed that most people working within the organization in the noughties had only a vague notion of what socialism was, and no idea at all about what a socialist cinema might be. How could a cinema be socialist?

Kalle: We wanted to ask you about this, since you were chairperson of Folkets Bio in Lund, I don’t know which years?

Sebastian: It was later, maybe 2014-2015. Not that much later, two years after the change was made.

Kalle: So it was still a bleeding wound for Stefan Jarl?

Sebastian: Yes. But it was also an ongoing discussion when I went to the annual congress. It was a question which was continuously debated through propositions to the annual meeting.

Kalle: By people who wanted the original wording put back in the statutes?

Sebastian: Some/several people wanted it put back, people discussed it over coffee afterwards or at the dinner in the evening, saying: have we not lost something vital when this term has been taken out or blurred over?

Kalle: Why did they want it back then?

Sebastian: I think that many of the people I met who wanted it back were mainly older socialists, who maybe worked at older Folkets Bio cinemas around the country for a long period of time. These were people who, according to their own opinion, and it was probably true, had built Folkets Bio into a nationwide organization. And they hadn’t just built a cinema but also they had worked together with an idea about the role of cinema within the body of society, and the possibility of cinema providing perspective or offering us new glasses, or of cinema becoming an interface for meetings and discussions which wouldn’t happen after a visit to SF (ed: SF is a nationwide commercial cinema). And more than anything, to them the work of the cinema was ideologically grounded, it was a part of a socialist movement, or a socialist struggle.

Kristina: Where the cinema-part was just one of the pillars.

Sebastian: Yes, I imagine many people saw it that way.

Kristina: If you Sebastian were to imagine a socialist cinema, what would it be like, what could it be, potentially? What would be the best possible socialist cinema you could imagine? How would it work?

Sebastian: I imagine a socialist cinema as a cinema which could emerge anywhere whenever someone needs it. Out of necessity and need. I don’t know if it would be centrally directed or if it would be comepletely decentralised and what that would mean to the work. But that is how I would like to imagine a possible socialist cinema. One where everyone owns equal shares of the projector, or of the possibility, of the cinema. And then it could scale up or down the concept of cinema, and understand it in different ways. But it would be a cinema which is owned by everyone, and which could emerge anywhere, anytime.

Kalle: And what would be the need that it responds to?

Sebastian: I imagine it would fill this need for an interface for debates and discussions, which one may feel is difficult to create without anything which is held in common. I mean that there is a room and a time which is set aside, which is shared and which is common, and that creates conditions for a conversation which one might feel the need for having. Or that one has the need of showing something, and sharing an experience, to show something which has happened and which must be seen, told or heard of, which a non-socialist cinema would not bother with or which official media would not bother with.

When I attempt to answer your question I feel I’m moving away from a material reality, but if I were to say something about that, I think that if this were to be an activity which needs financing in order to create proper working conditions for those who choose to start up the cinema where it was needed, then I imagine some sort of common… I like and admire your and others work that deals with redistribution of resources, and I think a socialist cinema would be financed by having a large number of people paying a little, to create common pots of resources.

Kristina: Nice to think that the cinema is needed, that it emerges when there’s a need. Seeing film as a form of concentration.


The What And The How: There Will Be No Cinema In Utopia, By John Jordan

There Will Be No Cinema In Utopia

by John Jordan

22 March 2008

Dear Dad

I’ve always wanted to ask you about your experience of May 1968. You’d been living in Paris throughout the sixties, studying at the Sorbonne, then working for NATO. But on the eve of ’68 you were forced to relocate, De Gaulle kicked NATO out of France, you followed.

But you loved that city, you loved the Latin Quarter, the intellectuals, the bars, the drink. You might not have shared much with Guy Debord except for your age, but you were both simultaneously poisoning your livers in the great city of light. Did you ever bump into him? Did you ever cross his merry drunken drifting gang? Were you ever drawn to the glossy golden covers of the Situationist International journal? Did you ever realise that beneath the cobble stones Paris was simmering, and that soon its streets would belong to those who were digging them up?

As you were packing your bags in 1967, Guy Debord was publishing his most famous book Society of the Spectacle written in 221 paragraph long theses and forming the theoretical foundations for those hot May days that you missed. We have to “wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images,” he wrote. This awakening would happen throughout the creation of “Situations”: radical moments, actions, events that he believed would “bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art”. It wasn’t new forms of art that were needed but new forms of revolutionary everydaylife.

Debord’s revolution against the deep separations of consumer capitalism couldn’t wait, it had to happen now and take place through the “realisation and suppression of art”. Little did he realise that less than a year after publishing, French consumer society would be thrown into disarray by previously unimaginable events. Following the unexpected festival like riots two thirds of France’s work force went on strike, capitalist time stood still and the separation of dream and reality was broken for millions of people as they temporarily took back the streets and occupied or walked out of their factories.

Reading about those events twenty years later and the influence the Situationists had had on them, I realised that as an artist I had to fight against the separation of art from everydaylife, I had to denounce the role of the artists as specialist, the great monopoliser of creativity, the corrupt court jester of capitalism. Charles Baudelaire, another intoxicated Parisian drifter called art “Prostitution”, for me it was simply a lie, a lie trying (and failing) to tell the truth. Cinema was the worst exponent of this, it was a cold medium that immobilised us in front of glowing screens soothing us into becoming passive consumers. With cinema there is never the possibility of participation in the present, it is always a re-presentation of the past, even when it attempts to be a call to action in the future.

The Situationists taught me that people became radicalised through participation not spectatorship. Taking part in dramatic moments of everydaylife, in adventure, was what really changed people, not sitting still in a dark room. The trouble was I was deeply in love with cinema.

I recognised the desires, pleasures and fantasies that art could engender, but I knew that these promises could never become reality. I wanted art to be deeply pragmatic, I wanted it to shape rebellions and I wanted to change it from being an end to being a means, from holding out a promise of perfection in some other realm to demonstrating a way of living meaningfully in this one. “Revolution” said Debord “is not showing life to people, but making them live.”

I remember the first time you let me touch your Super 8 camera, it felt like a rite of passage, a magic moment beyond which nothing would ever be the same again. We were sitting in the stands during the pageant of the Holy Blood in Bruges. The procession took place every year to coincide with the day when the vial of Christ’s coagulated blood miraculously became fluid again. Although I never actually saw the relic close up I had vivid childhood dreams of a dry brown crusty scab suddenly exploding into bright crimson wetness.

Soon after you let me make my first film. I squirted around lots of sickly sweet smelling ketchup and shot my 10 year old friend David being run over by your big white car. David was a “real” film star, he had just finished playing a key part in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 classic Barry Lyndon. I remember crying my eyes out when he was killed in a horse riding accident near the end of the film. Perhaps recreating and directing his death in a car accident was my first revenge against cinema’s cruel fiction.

I still cry easily in the cinema, even at some of the most synthetic Disney storylines. Your grandson Jack always knows at which point in the movie I start to cry, he leans across and runs his finger under my eyes to see they’re already wet with tears. Cinema sometimes wrings out my guts, it bursts my tear ducts and shoots electric currents up my spine, and yet I hate it.

David’s death scene was filmed besides the back gate of our house, where the waste bins were kept. One morning as I was putting out the rubbish I noticed a tiny strip of broken super 8 film discarded on the ground. I picked it up, held it to the sky and squinted, trying to make out what was in the half dozen black and white frames. A tingle of fearful excitement tore through me when I realised that in my hands I was holding images of a naked woman. You couldn’t see her face clearly, but a nude buxom body was spread across gleaming white tiles that I didn’t recognise. I stuffed the tiny fragile secret into my pocket and ran upstairs to my bedroom.

Ingeniously I worked out that I could take out the eye-piece of my telescope and sandwich the strip of film between it and the window, thus magnifying the tiny super 8 frames and creating my own private peepshow. It was to be the first of many addictive rituals which filled me with endocrine hormones. For most of my sexual life I struggled with a compulsive behaviour disorder which slid and hid me in a flickering trance world of porn, where every thing was possible and nothing real, except the fucking, and the coming, and the sucking, which was the only subject matter. Porn was the ultimate spectacle of separation, of escape.

In the universe of porn there were no lines between fiction and fact, people didn’t pretend and yet performed, wild fantasy was fused with fleshy reality. It’s a world which holds out the promise of miracles and yet imprisons the imagination. It’s warm, wet, dripping gynaecological glamour promises everything yet always disappoints. It’s a Utopia of non stop sex, “perfect bodies”, without bills or work – without jealousy, impotence, emotional baggage, headaches, fear, embarrassment boredom or deadlines.

The global porn industry has become a kind of postmodern Fourierist phalanster made up of millions of mirrors which distort the French 18th century Utopian’s ideas of society where everything would yield to the influence of the erotic. Charles Fourier’s extraordinary imagination anticipated many things: Freud’s psychoanalysis, climate change, the radical pedagogy of A.S. Neil, the non specialised working community of Marx and Engels, the affinity groups of the direct action movements and even the digging of the Suez and Panama canals. At the heart of his vision of a harmonious community were human passions. Written as a radical response to the violence of the French Revolution, he saw all evil as the consequence of repression and social peace could therefore only be achieved if society was built around the liberation and utilisation of passions. In his Utopia touch and taste were the highest senses, sight and hearing the lowest. Passionately attracted bodies were at its centre, not flat cold shadows shimmering on a screen. Four Fourier the only possible society was one composed entirely of lovers, therefore the only possible politics was a politics of the impossible.

Porn was the perfect capitalist cooptation of the 1960s sexual liberation, much of which was influenced by Fourier’s dreams of passional attraction. I was not a child of the sixties but became a citizen of the society of pornography. I saw porn go from super 8 to Skype, from hard to get magazines wrapped in plastic bags to ubiquitous corporate cyber porn available at the flick of a button. I was brought up in a society that was rapidly forgetting its own gravity, losing touch with the ground beneath it, everything was being thrown up into the air, unreal cities were built with unreal money, finance fused with fantasy, everything was becoming nothing, everywhere and nowhere, dematerialised, separated, disconnected. Being “down to earth” reeked of the past of uncool hippy joy sticks. Contemporary turbo capitalism colonised everything with desire and teased us with the promises of unlimited possibilities. It was the most pornographic society in history.

But dad, you never talked to me about sex, perhaps that was another liberation of the 60s that you missed, but I’ve always wondered whether that porn film belonged to you and was it mum on that fragile strip of film?

Guy Debord had a love hate relationship to cinema too. His “anti-films” mostly made up of cut and pasted archive footage included a film Howls For de Sade without images punctuated with interminably long silences. “Just as the projection was about to begin,” a voice announces over a blank white screen “Guy-Ernest Debord was supposed to step onto the stage and make a few introductory remarks. Had he done so, he would simply have said: ‘There is no film. Cinema is dead. No more films are possible. If you wish, we can move on to a discussion.’”

You might not have ever met Debord face to face, but I think you appear in his 1961 fake documentary – Critique of Separation – there is a long shot of crowded conference room where Khrushchev and Kennedy met just  months before the Berlin wall being built. I think you were in that blurry crowd of diplomats sitting at a conference table. “Official news is elsewhere” Debord’s soft voice narrates over the shot. “Society broadcasts to itself its own image of its own history, a history reduced to a superficial and static pageant of its rulers – the persons who embody the apparent inevitability of whatever happens. The world of the rulers is the world of the spectacle. The cinema suits them well. Regardless of its subject matter, the cinema presents heroes and exemplary conduct modelled on the same old pattern as the rulers.”

“Guy Debord made very little art, but he made it extreme,” says Debord of himself in his final work – Guy Debord, son art en son Temps. The film was a Canal + TV commission finished weeks before he shot himself through the heart, his nervous system was beginning to waste away, marinated in alcohol for too long. Impatient as always, he did not want to wait for death to arrive.

But when you died they laid you out in a white dress, put rouge and red lipstick on your face and surrounded you with flowers. Death didn’t suit you, not this kind of death. The skin cancer that covered your body had come from the sun which our industrial society had transmutated miraculously from giver of life to killer. Whether it was depleting ozone levels or the rising heat of climate change, nature was dying, and even as a teenage boy I knew then that I couldn’t sit back and watch.

A decade later I got involved in social movements, not to represent them, but to apply creativity directly to them, to dream up and organize collective acts of civil disobedience. The late 90s were my generation’s 60s, an irresistible global anticapitalist movement was erupting, its politics seemed exciting – it refused t see the revolution as a far off event, it preferred movements than political parties and street parties than A2B marches. It thought politics should be about pleasure rather than sacrifice, it valued diversity and the local, whilst refusing the failed monolithic global blueprints of the past. It had learnt a lot of lessons from the 60s but had the internet and communications technologies to propagate its desires.

And so we reclaimed streets with illegal dance festivals attended by thousands and turned roads into sand pits for children to play in. Armed with jackhammers, saplings and audacity we planted trees on a motorway whilst hidden under the dress of giant carnival figure. We designed and distributed 8000 colour coded masks which choreographed a crowd of 10,000 rebels so that they could occupy London’s square mile on a hot Friday afternoon in June 1999. That was 6 months before the mainstream spot light discovered the movement of movements in Seattle, we called it “The Carnival Against Capitalism”. Parallel actions took place simultaneously in 75 cities, whilst the new neural network of the web streamed live images from the streets, it felt miraculous. The next day the front page of the Financial Times screamed “City of London Besieged by Anticapitalists.” We weren’t trying to convince people to join something through moral arguments, facts and figures, we were immersing them in events that they were part of creating, adventures during which they would momentarily taste the fantasy of what a better future could feel like.

The greatest crime in this society is to make rebellion more irresistible than capital and we paid for it. Things got hot around the turn of the century, media campaigns of criminalization, accusations of terrorism, infiltration etc. It all culminated in 2002 at the G8 in Genoa, where the Italian police killed a demonstrator and beat people to a pulp whilst they slept in sleeping bags. I was there with Jack, he was eight, we ran from the building as the teargas rose and truncheons fell. I had never felt so much fear. Two months later two planes flew into the twin towers. The movement of movements waned and a generalized culture of fear began to spread. Inevitably I retreated to my first great love, film.

As the dust from the twin towers was settling, Argentina’s fantasy economy collapsed, they defaulted on their debt, a grassroots uprising began and governments fell. I jumped on a plane armed with a little video camera. I filmed middle class people smashing up banks in broad daylight, I interviewed impoverished unemployed workers who were rebuilding their communities from the bottom up, it was the closest I have ever got to what May 68 must have felt like. Nearly every night thousands of citizens flowed into the streets, banging their pots and pans together in a symphony of disobedience that John Cage would have been proud of and singing “que se vayan todos” (they all must go) meaning that the entire political class goes, every politician from every party, the supreme court, the IMF, the multinational corporations, the banks – everyone out so the people can decide the fate of this economically crippled country themselves.

I had to get these stories out to the English speaking world quickly, there was no time to make a film, so I wrote instead. I never made my Argentina film. The footage was used by many other film makers, but I landed a job as a second camera with my friends Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on their film The Take, a documentary about the worker occupied factory movements. I left my academic job and moved to Argentina. Six months, hundreds of hours of tape, two film crews, several boom mikes, runners, production assistants, million dollar budget, boxes of equipment and translators later, I returned home with a foul taste in my mouth. Making cinema was so heavy, so resource consuming, so slow. I felt like I had become a filmmaker recuperating what revolutionaries were leaving behind, I had transmuted into a vampire, I was craving a return to action.

And so I had to think again and during one intoxicated London night I dreamt up a new methodology of protest, which replaced confrontation with confusion and merged the open magical body of the disobedient clown with techniques of direct action. It became known as Rebel Clowning and the meme spread across the world, by 2005 we had recruited 200 activists into the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army and we marched on the G8 leaders holed up in their luxury golf course in Gleneagles, Scotland. The last NATO summit that you attended was held there. Mum tells stories about how you were “piped” off the plane in your wheelchair and how you cried like a baby. Two weeks later I was walking behind your coffin through a Brussels cemetery blanketed with snow. You wanted me to make films, join the BBC etc. but I became an anarchist clown. What would you have thought? As I write, I’m checking the activists news wire Indymedia: over seven hundred people from 15 countries are trying to non-violently break into the Brussels NATO HW, your office. Four hundred and fifty have already been arrested, water cannon and pepper spray is being used, and guess what, many of them are in the international clown army. I wasn’t there, because I went AWOL after reading too many books about catastrophic climate change and falling into what felt like an interminable depression.

Dad, I’m sorry, this letter is already way too long, but maybe I’m just catching up – the last letter I wrote to you was 26 years ago. So, to keep you up to date. Well, after the depression and working on the camp for climate action I decided to go on a little holiday in representation, a 7 month trip through Utopian communities in Europe. I visited anarchist schools run by children, we met permaculturists living lightly on the earth and an ecovillage that freed love and sexuality from the guilty constraints of society, we lived with 1968 activists who had become sheep farmers and young punks who had squatted an entire hamlet, I passed through villages where precarious agricultural workers had expropriated the count’s land and factories which were running under self management.

Out of it will come a book of travel writing packaged with, you guessed it, a film, yes that medium haunts me once again. The film won’t be a documentary but in the tradition of Utopian literature it will present a vision of Europe after an economic and ecological collapse, shot in present it will represent the future. It was hard to film, I still feel that the camera creates a wall, a screen between people.

Returning to London has been a shock, especially going from months of collective life, with little commerce, no adverts and lots of outdoor work, to sitting indoors stuck to a computer screen, another fucking screen, back to the cold separator. In my Utopia screens will have fallen into disuse, peoples’ desire to directly connect to each other and the world, to participate in directing their own lives rather than watching the lives of others will take precedence. Those who have to spend their lives in front of screens will be pitied. Perhaps there will be no cinemas in my Utopia, but beautiful rooms filled with delicious feasts, designed for sharing stories together, face to face.

Guy Debord said that before its destruction by consumer capitalism, Paris was “a city so beautiful that many preferred to live there poor than to live rich anywhere else.” But you decide to move from the city of your dreams, for the dream of money I suspect, and so the “events” of 68 passed you by. What would have happened if you had refused the draw of power and wealth. Your bookshelves had anarcho-communist prince Kropotin’s Conquest of Bread on it. You avidly watched the 1970s TV serialisation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. You were “left wing” according to mum. So why did you work for NATO and why did you follow them against your wishes to Brussels?

Maybe you did meet Debord one drunken night after all, maybe he taught you the art of detournement. That was why [you] gave up studying history and started to make it, not by creating situations, but by sitting in conference rooms and convincing people not to lob nuclear missiles at each other. Maybe you saw yourself as a mole in the system, subverting it from the inside, using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house, maybe you really did believe that by bringing enemies together in the same room you could make peace. I’ll never know because the one miracle I never learnt was how to resurrect the dead.

I love you all the same;




The What And The How: Intro

As part of the re-structuring of our activities over the next five years, we’ll be discussing the question: what could a socialist cinema potentially be, and do, and mean? We’re looking for definitions and visions and plans for action, we’re aiming to better ourselves, and we’re asking you all for help to do this.

bloggbild Paletten

We were featured in issue #309 of Swedish art magazine Paletten. In the article we laid out our central question for the next five years: what could a socialist cinema be, potentially? How would a socialist cinema be organised and how would decisions be made, how would it be financed and where would it be placed? Who are the audience in a socialist cinema and what role does the audience play, why would they be there, and how would they watch the films, how would they discuss the films, and what would they take away with them when they leave? What films would be shown in a socialist cinema, how would they be produced, what would they look like, how would they be shown, how would they be selected, and what would watching and discussing these films do with us? What would happen to us in a socialist cinema? We gratefully accept thoughts and replies to these questions from everyone in what we call our audience.

We’ve asked writers, artists and thinkers to supply us with food for thought, to get the ball rolling. Meaning there will be some commissioned texts, which attempt to answer or go beyond the questions we’re posing. We’re very excited to launch this feature, The What And The How, which will reoccur periodically over the coming years. Our first three contributions come from John Jordan, Frida Sandström, and Lisa Rosendahl.

Today we begin with the text There will be no Cinema in Utopia, which was written by John Jordan on the occasion of the 40 year jubilee of the revolts in May 1968.

John Jordan is an art activist.  He founded the direct action groups Reclaim the Streets and the Clown Army, worked as a cinematographer for Naomi Klein’s film The Take (about worker-occupied factories in Argentina), co-edited the book We Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism (Verso 2004) and lecturers in theatre and fine art. Together with Isabel Fremeaux he founded the art activist collective The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, which is currently based in the ZAD, “a liberated territory against an airport and its world”.

Coming up next!