the republics

THE REPUBLICS

THE REPUBLICS

a 16mm film by HUW WAHL


A b&w 16mm artists' essay film, drawn from the book ‘Republic Of Dogs / Republic Of Birds' by Stephen Watts, exploring landscape, history, memory and the power of words to celebrate and resist.




CREDITS & SPEC

16mm film, editing and sound recording
HUW WAHL

in collaboration with
STEPHEN WATTS
and
PROTOTYPE PUBLISHING

based on Watts' book
‘REPUBLIC OF DOGS / REPUBLIC OF BIRDS’

studio recording, sound mix and design
SIMON CONNOR
assisted by

GIORGIO CARLINO

produced by
HUW WAHL
with funding from
ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND

run time 83 minutes
format DCP: Stereo




SYNOPSIS

“For four decades, poet, translator and activist Stephen Watts has been the quietly urgent, profoundly committed voice of the marginalised and the overlooked, whether person or place. He understands that the true ethical centre that matters lies at the edge, whether in the pull of outpost islands or the common ground of migrant streets. His tools are perennial witness and precise resistance through poem and prose, anchored in lyric anger for justice and praise song to the loved but fragile things. The language he deploys is one of dark illumination. His is fiercely internationalist writing, a challenge to the abuses of the age that is tense with solidarity, resonance and grace.  

Now he has found his collaborative equal in the engaged 16mm filmmaker Huw Wahl, who has translated the text of Watt’s book-length prose poem Republic Of Dogs / Republic Of Birds into a luminous feature-length documentary essay of remarkable beauty and spirited attention. The Republics moves from the early 1980s to the present, and from London’s Isle of Dogs and Scotland’s Western Isles - where Watts lived and worked as a shepherd in his youth - to the mountains of Northern Italy: at once a topographic journey and a highly personal meditation on history, memory, identity and belonging.  

Anchored in Watts’ biography and lines, it nevertheless explores the larger truths of being and the calibrations of response to often hard earned, lived experience. Considering the changing landscapes of settlement in London’s East End and Scottish islands, the destruction of working-class culture and an attendant sense of the collective, the film and its writing are themselves forms of cultural activism: elegy, celebration and a toolkit for ongoing resistance.  

Never rhetorical, always endowed with a profound empathy and a deep sense of relation – to time, place and human struggle – The Republics is one of the most impressive artists’ films of recent years, whose own poetry speaks as honestly and eloquently as that of the writer it portrays.” 

Gareth Evans, Moving Image Curator, Whitechapel Gallery




PRAISE FOR THE FILM


'It's so precise and yet so free. Rooted - and vagrant.
Or rather: seeking. It prickles and trembles. It really is exquisite.'

Sukhdev Sandhu, author of Night Haunts, A Journey through the London Nights


'The Republics is the perfect example of how different art forms can complement each other. Photography, cinematography, poetry, writing, architecture all come together in harmony, serving the purpose of telling a beautiful story.'
Danae Papadiki, Review for Indy Film Library


'A gentle and unassuming, but forever-smouldering defence of the Others and the Other'
CPH:DOX, website write-up


'The Republics is one of the most impressive artists’ films of recent years, whose own poetry speaks as honestly and eloquently as that of the writer it portrays'
Gareth Evans, Moving Image Curator, Whitechapel Gallery


Honourable mention from Jury
Litfilms, Munster


'Wahl réussit à accoucher d’un tout cohérent, sans forme, qui s’évertue à ne rien symboliser, ne romantise rien non plus, (...) le film devient honnête et invitant.'
Olivier Godin, Filmmaker
Horschamp Review




PRAISE FOR WATTS' POETRY


'I am moved and fascinated by Stephen Watts's poetry in ways I find hard to explain and extraordinarily powerful to experience. He is among the most fine and subtle writers I know on the relations of landscape and mind.'
Robert MacFarlane


'Such free play of voice against finely calibrated shifts of light and atmosphere is intoxicating. Stephen Watts shapes a prose of rare integrity and grace. There is no estranged otherness, no prussic scorn even for the despoilers and exploiters of place. The poet's generosity catches us off-balance, as we sift the local tideline and the deep time-line of the islands, acknowledging hermits and passerines.'
Iain Sinclair




SCREENINGS


*UPCOMING*


USA SCREENING

Cadence: Video Poetry Festival 2021
NorthWest Film Forum, Seattle, USA
16/04/2021 - 25/04/2021
Online festival run
https://nwfilmforum.org/festivals/cadence-video-poetry-festival


WORLDWIDE SCREENING

Whitechapel Gallery
London, UK
06/05/2021
Online screening + talk
https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/from-the-islands-to-the-thames/


GREEK PREMIERE

Athens International Video Poetry Festival
Athens, Greece
06/06/2021
Online screening
https://theinstitute.info/?p=4548


*PAST*


UK SCREENING

Becoming Earthly Film season
The Barn Arts, Banchory, UK
12/02/2021 - 26/02/2021
Online screening run
https://www.thebarnarts.co.uk


MEXICO PREMIERE

HELIOS Sun Poetry Film Festival
Ciudad de México, Mexico
24/01/2021
Online screening
https://www.instagram.com/helioscine/


UK PREMIERE

Leeds International Film Festival
Leeds, United Kingdom
14+16/11/2020 and online
Physical screening and online region restricted screening
https://www.leedsfilm.com/whats-on/the-republics/


USA PREMIERE

The 2020 Film and Video Poetry Symposium
Los Angeles, USA
19/11/2020
Physical screening
www.fvpsociety.com


ASIAN PREMIERE

West Lake International Documentary Festival
Hangzhou, China
07/10/2020 - 18/10/2020
Physical screening
http://www.westlakeidf.com/en/


NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Festival du nouveau cinéma - FNC 2020
Montreal, Canada
07/10/2020 - 18/10/2020
Online region restricted special preview
https://nouveaucinema.ca


LATIN AMERICAN PREMIERE

Universidad de los Andes - Gestos de la Poesía 2020
Bogotá, Colombia
07/10/2020
Online region restricted special preview
https://www.facebook.com/CentroCulturaUniandes/


GERMAN PREMIERE

Litfilms
Munster, Germany
30/09/2020
Physical screening
https://litfilms.de
Received an Honourable Mention from the jury


SCOTTISH PREVIEW

Imagining An Island
Online Symposium, North Uist, Western Isles, Scotland
25/09/2020
Online restricted special preview
https://imagininganisland.org


WORLD PREMIERE

CPH:DOX
Copenhagen, Denmark
25/03/2020
Competing for the NEXT:WAVE award
https://en.cphdox.dk/programme/the-republics

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