Super 8: a short film about success

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The Independent Culture
"The end of the hypocrisy of the republic of democracy!" rants Lydia Lunch in Beth B's Thanatopsis. The New York punk filmmaker's psychotic documentary was shown in a retrospective showcase on Tuesday, launching the third annual "Viva 8" film festival, held by the London Filmmakers Co-operative (LFMC) to celebrate the work of Super 8 filmmakers. The festival's organiser Adam Clitheroe is quick to allay fears that the rest of the programme will be a similar orgy of anguish. He promises cult documentaries, such as Psychedelic Glue-Sniffin' Hillbillies, and even music videos.

This year the Co-operative received pounds 2,500 in Arts Council funding to help hold its four-day blitz of short, sharp shockers. "It's in recognition of the success of the last two festivals which have reflected a growing resurgence of interest in Super 8," says Clitheroe. "This year we had 230 entries and expect half as many again next year."

The possibilities for film-projection at techno raves have inspired a lot of budding directors - many Super 8 films appeared in last year's Channel 4 series entitled "Midnight Underground". But crossing into the mainstream is something that has been going on surreptitiously for much longer, according to LFMC workshop organiser Paul Murray: "It's well known that several big London advertising agencies regularly raid the BFI for source material. We crack it and they nick it. That said, there's no such thing as plagiarism in this post-modern world."

Partly assisted by the increased interest in Super 8 activity, the LFMC has been able to move, in its 30th anniversary year, from its dingy hangout in Camden to a purpose-built complex in the East End. A range of backers from the Arts Council to LFVDA (the London Film and Video Development Agency), have put up almost a million pounds between them.

They don't take kindly to the charge that perhaps they're selling out their principles. "That is cynicism," snaps Murray, adamantly defending the Co-op's integrity. "The place we were in was like a squat. It was falling apart. And everything we did had to be hand-edited. Now we can upgrade our technology and make better films. The LFMC will always be open to everyone."

n Viva 8, 1996 runs Fri-Sun, The Picture House, Toynbee Hall, 26 Commercial St, London, E1 (info: 0171-586 8516)

JULIUS DUTHY

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