The Sky Trembles, the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

Ben Rivers / UK / 2015 / 98 min
Fri 6 May / 17.45

With an introduction by Patricia Pisters, professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam

The Sky Trembles... begins with a dramatic view of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where Spanish filmmaker Oliver Laxe is in the midst of a complex shoot with caravans and horses. As Ben Rivers observes the director at work and the film crew in contemplative repose, a portrait of a mythic landscape emerges with the spectacle of long-abandoned film sets; serving as a reminder of the region's long history as a site of international film production.

With its enigmatic title coming from a whispered warning overheard by Paul Bowles in a Tangier café in the 1940's, Ben Rivers’ new film is inspired by ‘A Distant Episode’; a short story by Bowles in which a European man is abducted by bandits, forced to wear a costume made from old tin lids, and dance for the entertainment of his captors. Rivers’ interpretation blurs the line between fiction and documentary to delve into the different levels of reality created during the filmmaking process itself. It creates a new vision out of the cultural and physical debris left behind by Western film crews, who themselves have been using the Morocco landscape and people to create fictional worlds.

About the director

Ben Rivers (born in 1972) is a London based artist and experimental filmmaker. Rivers's practice treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, the raw film footage provides Rivers with a starting point for creating oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds.

Rivers’ first feature-length film, Two Years at Sea (2011), was presented at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. His second feature, A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness (2013), was made in collaboration with Ben Russell and premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. Ben Russel recently received the 2016 EYE Art & Film Prize, awarded to artists for their contribution to the developments in the field between art and film.


From the report of the EYE Art & Film Prize 2016:

“Ben Rivers is one of the new strong voices of his generation, where boundaries between cinema and the other arts no longer exist. In his visually stunning work, he shows his engagement with today's society. Ben Rivers has a poetic eye, which makes him an elegant and sensitive observer of life and nature.”


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