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London Brief

Director,Photography,Editing, Sound: Jon Jost
Music: Erling Wold
Producer, Source: Jon Jost
11, rue de l'Orillon 75011 Paris FRANCE
Phone & Fax:33-1-4357-5693
U.S.A. / 1997 / English / Color / 35mm / 105 min

Jon Jost

Born in Chicago in 1943 to a military family, Jon Jost grew up across the United States, in Japan, Italy and Germany. Quit college in 1963 and began making 16mm films. He was imprisoned for 2 years for draft resistance. Upon his release he became involved in political activities and with other leftist student activists helped found the independent documentary film movement, Newsreel. He has directed a wide range of works including: Speaking Directly (1973), Angel City (1977), and Rembrandt Laughing (1988). At YIDFF 89 Plain Talk & Common Sense (1987) was selected for the competition section. In 1991 The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a touring retrospective of all of his work "Jon Jost: American Independent."


Whether one likes it or not, the rapid evolution of video technology in the last few years, especially its digitalization is shaking up the cinematic expressions of our time. A prominent filmmaker since the 60s when practically all the values of the existing world were shaken up, Jon Jost has, for the last 30 years, taken the challenge of shaking up and subverting existing rules and conventions in the way we see the world through images, creating a new vision. Now he holds in his hands a DV (digital video) camera, experimenting in the new possibilities this new medium offers. . . and having fun!
London Brief is, as its title literally says, a brief note on the city made by a passenger during a brief stay. The equipment itself being far lighter, and its operation easier than film-cameras, this work has no pretension of being a result of extensive research and long-term observation. Neither is it an homage to one's hometown. In brief, escaping all the pre-existing clich?s surrounding documentary of a city, this new phase of Jost's career is deliberately brief, light and frivolous. However, within the seemingly never-ending duration of this frivolity, for instance when the DV just stares at a reflection on the window of a tube train for what seems to be a couple of dozen minutes, we witness something that the conventional "cinema" camera has never filmed: the capturing of "the present."
--Mizuhara Fumito

Director's Statement

London Brief is, well, exactly that--a kind of sketchbook, notes of a short visit to London done quite by accident. I had no intention of making a film of any sort, rather I was having fun, experimenting with the new DV camera and its possibilities, as well as gathering certain types of imagery I wanted to have on hand for some other projects. The core of the film was shot in January 1997 in less than 3 days of mostly random, casual shooting while tending to other business in London; once home it became clear on looking at the material that there was in there perhaps a lively, vivid and maybe instructive portrait-on-the-run of London approaching the millennium. Once I'd done an edit I went back to London another week to gather more material to fill it out. All for, well, basically, fun and pleasure. As it happens it can bit fitted in--not just in topic but also in aesthetics (I'm worried about accusations of MTVization--to some of even my earliest films which were also portraits of places, towns and cities, the earliest being the short City, done in Chicago in 1964, and oddly sharing a remarkable sense of aesthetic kinship with London Brief.


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee