Visual Rhythms by Two Eriks + Johan


Erik Gandini, Erik Pauser & Johan Soderberg that’d be. Fine (interconnected ) feature film fiends. Let’s start with:

Videocracy ( 2009 )
Directed Erik Gandini / edited Johan Soderberg
Imagine a country where the owner of the biggest Television network, and several press outlets, also becomes the elected leader of the country. That country is Italy, and because the several sprawling scandals around President Silvio Berlusconi are not covered in Italian news ( but widely elsewhere), it’s surprising there aren’t a greater number of critical documentary documentaries about this.

“Berlusconi has created a culture of banality so that collective societal desires are no longer important. People in Italy now just want to be television stars so they can be famous and rich. There’s a strong tension between those who are on TV and those who are not. For young Italians, power is embodied by those who are celebrities…. What I’m really interested in here is how you can destroy a democracy by tits and ass. It’s shocking that the banality of culture can destroy a once mature and politically engaged populace,” argues Gandini in an Indiewire interview.

The resulting film is an almost spooky glimpse of a society governed by an obsession with celebrity, and a Governor obsessed by the power that television can manifest. Those who have seen Mike Judge’s comedy Idiocracy, about society’s devolution through television will be mightily amused / horrified at the parallels. Director Erik Gandini is well known for covering provocative topics, including – Gitmo, Bosnian refugees in Sweden, and the 100,000 children American soldiers left behind in Vietnam, but we’ll mention here his other Soderberg collaboration:

Surplus: terrorised into being consumers (2003).
Directed Erik Gandini / edited Johan Soderberg
This film is Gandini’s personal visual odyssey about the destructive nature of consumer culture, threaded together with Soderberg’s trademark rhythmic, often musical editing. While the film as a whole doesn’t necessarily provide a strong coherence, it has plenty of powerful moments, many which derive from the ways in which Soderberg marries sound and vision, and understands the power of letting raw images to play out by themselves over time, or looping and repeating them as need be. ( Available on DVD )

Lucky People Centre International (1998)
Directed + Edited : Erik Pauser / Johan Soderberg

Finally, this vastly under-rated film is available on DVD, do yourself a flavour. Lucky People Centre was a Swedish artist collective known for their electronic music, video projects, a couple of audiovisual albums ( not just tracks with videos, but editing video source material samples to make music ), and this film as their pinnacle achievement.

“Lucky People Center International takes us on a journey around the world, navigating by means of people’s inner life. The use of music and rhythm and the pulsating form of the film are reminiscent of the aesthetic tools of music videos, and provide a fresh approach to documentary filming. The film team spent two years travelling the world looking for people and ways of living reflecting the world.. and so we encounter voodoo powers, the investigative methods of a brain research scientist, Buddhism’s view of death, a former porn actress (Annie Sprinkle) and her thoughts on pleasure, a banker and his ecstatic needs, and much more, all held together by musical rhythms and the song of the gibbon.”

On an entertainment and provocation level, the film is loaded with a fascinatingly diverse range of people and situations, but beyond that, the film’s audiovisual relationships, the layered multi-linear storytelling, and the rhythmic approaches to editing ( sound and vision ), mean this is
( Can’t link to them directly ( Oh, Flash, hai there~! ) but click through the interface to find a series of LPC videos at )
Tokyo Noise ( 2002 )
Directed + Edited : Erik Pauser / Johan Soderberg
This is a gentler documentary exploring the character of Tokyo through the lives of interesting characters, but again includes wonderfully expressive editing and audiovisual sequences.

Tong Tana (2001)
Directed: Erik Pauser
Powerful story about a Swiss man who went to live in the Borneo jungle, and ended up living with, and defending the locals.

The Voice ( 2005 )
Directed + Edited : Erik Pauser / Johan Soderberg
A well edited and animated music-video style exploration of global power. ( Available on DVD )

Read my lips, that Bush + Blair duet that blew up online a few years ago? That was Soderberg too.

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