Flag Mountain

Flag Mountain


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

When video art is presented at film festivals it often suffers for the change of venue. Sometimes it's designed for galleries rather than cinemas, sometimes it's meant to play on a loop, and sometimes things just go horribly, terribly, wrong.

Two out of three for Flag Mountain, at the Glasgow Short Film Festival. That's the only 'rating' that it can be fairly given, because the screening Eye For Film was able to attend showed it without sound. It's also meant to be looped, so the best we can suggest is that you try to see it if it shows up at a festival, but keep your eyes open in case it's exhibited near you. In 2010 it was shown as part of solo shows at London's Royal College of Art and Berlin's Tanya Leighton Gallery, and it has an upcoming show at the Espace Crois in Roubaix, France in November 2011.

Copy picture

It's the director's first film shot on HD, and certainly the way that he's framed Nicosia's rooftops, looking north towards Turkish Cyprus is compelling. It's classed as 'experimental', and almost inevitably that means that there's a sequence of strobing, night and day shots interspersed. The focus is on a massive Turkish flag, painted on the side of a mountain. At nights it lights up, the Hollywoodland scale letters of a quote from Ataturk lost in the darkness. Star and stripes and crescent, flashing away. According to information from his own website, a BFI interview and the RCA programme notes there's meant to be the call of a muezzin, church bells, and there's certainly a recording of the Turkish national anthem used because it appears in the credits. It's not readily found online, so we can't tell you how it all pulls together, but John Smith's work is generally good and a change in format is unlikely to modify that.

So, to make it clear, this is rated three stars out of five because Eye For Film's systems can't record an 'abstention' or a 'play cancelled due to rain'. It's good, even stripped of one of its two elements, and it might be very good. Close shots of men lifting flags, retiling roofs, and the looming presence of that flag, that mountain, the border and all its implications. It's a bit like a pictorial Potemkin Village, glorifying our side of the line, if not denigrating yours. Unfortunately, much like that division, we can only see what's on the other side, not visit.

Reviewed on: 02 Mar 2011
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An introduction to the city of Nicosia, torn between Greek Cypriot and Turkish influences.
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Director: John Smith

Year: 2010

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2011

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