web analytics

Ben Rivers & Ben Russell (A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness)

The poster of Ben Rivers & Ben Russell's film A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, which shows a cloudy sky above a lake upon which a semi-submerged canoe is floating. The title's type is styled in a typical black metal fashion.

Ben Rivers is an English experimental filmmaker and artist whose work blends fiction and non-fiction, exploring themes of community, utopia, hermetic living and investigating spaces more broadly. His works include “I Know Where I’m Going” (2009), “Slow Action” (2010), and Two Years at Sea (2011), which won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the 68th Venice Film Festival.

Ben Russell is an American artist and curator whose films, installations, and performances seek to engage the history and semiotics of the moving image. His works include the Trypps series, an “ongoing study in trance, travel, and psychedelic ethnographies”; “River Rites” (2011); and Let Each One Go Where He May (2009).

The duo presented their co-directed feature, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. We were very excited to talk about their work together and apart at our studio space at OCAD U’s Graduate Gallery.

Our interview with Ben Russell and Ben Rivers was conducted in September of 2013 and was one of four feature interviews in the fifteenth monthly issue of The Seventh Art as a “video magazine.” It was released in October 2013 and is part of our TIFF 2013 coverage, along with interviews with Frederick Wiseman, Albert Serra, Corneliu Porumboiu, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Ben Wheatley, Don McKellar, Lukas Moodysson, Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, João Pedro Rodrigues, Ramon Zürcher, Götz Spielmann, Elina Psikou, Mark Peranson, Erik Skjoldbjærg, Bruce LaBruce, Aran Hughes & Christina Koutsospyrou, and Frank Pavich.

By Christopher Heron

Christopher Heron is one of the co-founders of The Seventh Art. He's conducted over 60 long-form interviews for the publication, while also writing and cutting several numerous video essays that investigate formal traits in films and filmmakers. He received his MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where his work explored cinematic representations of urban space with special attention paid to the films of Pedro Costa and Tsai Ming-liang.