Photographic portraits of Akram Khan, Naaman Azhari, Lucinda Childs, (LA)HORDE, Lola Arias, Ibrahim Mahama, Angélique Kidjo

Image credits: Catalina Bartolomé, Lucie Jansch, Olivier Metzger, Julien Benhamou, Marie Jacquemin, Patrick Fouque, , Almudena Caso Burbano

A global pandemic, over a year of restrictions and a complete upheaval of how we live, work, and interact. So, what now?

Postcards from Now is a series of short films developed by artists during lockdown, premiering at MIF21. Co-commissioned by MIF, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Théâtre du Châtelet and Esplanade, the series is available to watch online for free 1-18 July.

Less ‘Wish you were here,’ more ‘Where do we go from here?’, the Postcards present five different perspectives from leading international artists.

BREATHLESS PUPPETS

AKRAM KHAN AND NAAMAN AZHARI

Co-commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, Breathless Puppets combines choreography from Akram Khan with a story written, directed, and animated by Naaman Azhari. It follows two men driven apart by cultural expectation, who in the maelstrom of the pandemic reconnect through dance.

Khan is an internationally renowned dancer and choreographer whose work is accessible and imaginative. His previous collaborators include the National Ballet of China, Kylie Minogue and Hanif Kureishi, and his universally acclaimed contribution to the 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony featured 50 professional dancers, a 9-year-old boy and Khan himself.

His collaborator Azhari is an animator and director whose film The Magic Boat was nominated for Best British Short Animation at the 2020 BAFTA Awards. Azhari’s medium is rotoscope animation, which involves tracing over live-action footage frame by frame, a technique he brings to Breathless Puppets. By taking the immediacy of dance and painstakingly retracing each gesture, the film speaks to the contradictions and possibilities of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the power of movement and the joy of creative connection.

DOWNLOAD AND RUN ZOOM: LUCINDA CHILDS MEETS (LA)HORDE – BUILDING MOMENTUM IN LOCKDOWN

LUCINDA CHILDS MEETS (LA)HORDE

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. When travel restrictions prevented Lucinda Childs and (La)Horde meeting in Marseille in March 2020, Zoom became their studio. This film documents the triumphs and frustrations of video-call choreography.

Lucinda Childs is an American choreographer who has created work for the Paris Opera Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet and Theater Kiel, among others. An original member of the influential Judson Dance Theatre, her choreographic career began with Pastime (1963) and she has since become widely renowned for her distinctive minimalist style.

Established in 2013, (La)Horde are Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer and Arthur Harel. Together, they have led the Ballet National de Marseille since September 2019, creating choreographic pieces, video installations and performances that fly in the face of convention.

Childs and (La)Horde’s online encounter is political, playful and intimate – a chronicle of experimentation and the rewards afforded to those who embrace the unexpected.

LOVE CAMPUS ABCD 2019-2021

IBRAHIM MAHAMA

On a special site in Tamale in Ghana, you will find six decommissioned aeroplanes. Their flying days are over, but Ibrahim Mahama is giving them a new lease of life.

Mahama is an artist known for creating monumental public artworks and installations. For MIF19, he repurposed lost and abandoned objects from Ghana to create a parliamentary chamber at The Whitworth, titled A Parliament of Ghosts. In the same year, he founded the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, an artist led studio and exhibition space designed to enhance Ghana’s contemporary art scene, and inspire the next generation.

The six planes form part of Red Clay, Mahama’s new artistic and educational complex which incorporates archives, lectures, film screenings, workshops and more. Love Campus documents a series of classes for local students, hosted in these spaces. Climbing aboard the aircraft, the children encounter modern drone technology in a project that asks what happens when the old and new share a space, as we salvage the past to shape the future.

FAR AWAY FROM RUSSIA

LOLA ARIAS

Lockdown has forced us to rethink some fundamental questions. For example, what does it mean to be vulnerable? Skilled? Productive? Lola Arias’ Far Away From Russia digs into all of these – and then some.

For the over-seventies, the pandemic has meant exclusion from public, social and political life. It’s also brought their carers to the brink, facing greater precarity and stress than ever before. In Far Away From Russia, the daily routine of one elderly person and their carer becomes an unexpected act of love and resistance.

Arias is an award-winning Argentinian writer and director. She has recently produced work for the Royal Court Theatre in London and the Maxim-Gorki Theatre in Berlin. Her work thrives in the margins between reality and fiction, bringing together people from all sorts of backgrounds. She makes documentary theatre and feature films, and has published plays, poetry, and fiction on subjects including her mother’s depression and the Falklands/Malvinas War. Her MIF21 film sits well within the realm of her politically charged and multifaceted back catalogue, casting a timely spotlight on those we dare to overlook.

A NEW FILM (PREMIERING IN AUTUMN)

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO

Like Arias, Angélique Kidjo is using her MIF21 film to explore what we mean by ‘skilled’ work and who we mean by ‘essential’ workers.

Kidjo’s home country of Benin is rooted in patriarchal culture. But it is the work of women, both at home and in the wider community, keeping things afloat. Kidjo’s film spotlights the women and girls from these communities.

Hailed by Time Magazine as ‘Africa’s premier diva,’ Kidjo is a four-time Grammy award-winning musician and activist who blends West African traditions with American R&B, funk, jazz, European and Latin American influences. Her latest album Mother Nature was created during lockdown and reaffirms her status as a singular talent on the international stage.

In a recent Guardian interview, Kidjo stressed the importance of speaking truth to power: 'We can’t just sit and watch. It’s up to us to act, to keep pushing further, to shape the future we want.'

This position conveys the spirit at the core of her MIF21 film, and perhaps also the Postcards from Now series as a whole.

Billie Collins is a writer from the Wirral.

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