Glas, winner of the 1959 Oscar for short subject documentary, is an improvised short doc by Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra about a glass factory. Interesting and evocative invented sound collage midway through, and a wonderful illustration of the rhythmic, almost musical hand motions of the glass-blowers. And, at the end, an amazing example of mid-century closing titles.
This short is a collaboration between Jason Sweeney (creator of Stereopublic) and Fiona Sprott, as part of their joint venture, Unreasonable Films. I love the textures in this film, the sound collage and the tape hiss, the digital noise, the slight frame jump. It brings a lot of motion and life to a series of still images, and it’s all done in the editing room.
While we’re on a bit of an expressive montage editing kick, here’s one of the documentaries Karel Reisz alluded to, Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon, made in 1934 for Ceylon Tea Propaganda Bureau. Which is, firstly, an amazing name for an organization, and, secondly, should signal that we’re going to be seeing images of the kinder, gentler side of British colonialism here. (Wright doesn’t seem unaware of the problem; in an interview reported by Senses of Cinema, Wright says, “[In the Caribbean] I wished I could have managed to say more about the diabolical capitalist or British Colonial policy which was always so nice and fat. I got a bit of it into Song of Ceylon the next year, but, you see, if you’re working for the Empire Marketing Board in the British Colonies, you can’t do it.”) However, it’s also widely acclaimed as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the great documentaries, and Sri Lankan filmmaker Lester James Peries calls it the greatest documentary about Sri Lanka ever made in Sri Lanka. Continue reading