BABELDOM in the 'top ten future cities in film'
Peter Bradshaw choses Babeldom together with Blade Runner, Metropolis, Alphaville and Akira in his top ten future cities in film.
'This cult cine-essay by Paul Bush is all about a fictional mega-city called Babeldom. Where this city is supposed to be is a moot point. It is everywhere and nowhere. At first it is glimpsed through a misty fog: it is the city of Babel imagined by the elder Breughel in his Tower Of Babel. Then Bush gives us glimpses of a place made up of actual cities and then computer graphic displays take us through how a city develops its distinctive lineaments and growth patterns. Of all the future-cities on this list, Babeldom is probably the weirdest.' (Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian)
BABELDOM awarded at Anilogue Film Festival
Babeldom was awarded a special Jury prize at Anilogue, the jury commended the film 'as full of thought provoking ideas which was very refreshing for all of us. the film kept us talking a long time about its philosophical and scientific subject matter which rarely ever happens in animation'.
BABELDOM chosen as top five film of 2013
Sight and Sound critic Isabel Stevens choses Babeldom as one of her top five films of 2013.
BABELDOM will be screened at Anilogue Film Festival, Budapest
The Hungarian premiere will be at Anilogue festival, Budapest, with screenings on 28th and 30th November. Paul Bush will be presenting a retrospective of short films and a masterclass at the festival.
BABELDOM screening at Bogocine in October
Colombian premiere will be at Bogocine, the Bogota film festival, screening on Thursday 17th October 12.30pm at the Cinemateca, Bogota
BABELDOM is also scheduled for screening in Anilogue, Budapest in November/December
'I'’s a complex architectural vision equal parts awesome and terrifying…This is a film – and city – to get lost in.' Isabel Stevens – Sight and Sound
'Technically you can’t fault either Bush’s prowess or his non-narrative ambitions… Babeldom is a visual treat.' Derek Malcolm – Evening Standard
'A fascinating meditation on the cities of the future… There is something of Iain Sinclair, J G Ballard and Italo Calvino here, and of the night time Paris in Godard’s Alphaville.' Peter Bradshaw – The Guardian
'In a beautiful sequence, Bush skims over layers of maps of London, cut like lace so we see the previous streets beneath…all time is present at the same moment in different layers of the city.' Kate Muir – The Times
' Here is a film addressing the subtleties of the mind as well as the problems of the world.' Tony McKibben – The List
'A challenging and singular exploration into the (possibly grim) future of mankind …Bush beautifully examines the concept of nostalgia and memory on a molecular level' Matt Thrift – Little White Lies
'Bush lets the camera gaze accentuate the sublimity of the various edifices. It’s disorientating, and proves subtly arresting… It will be dismissed by some and relished by others. But for sure, you won’t see anything else like it.' Tom Yates – The Upcoming
'This extraordinary documentary is a kind of poetic treatise on the idea of a city. Bush has created an elegy about the life of a metropolis since its almost mythical beginnings' Martina Olszowska – Kino Magazine
'Mesmerizing and provocative science-fiction documentary…' Chris Robinson – Ottawa Animation Festival
'Brilliant speculative fiction ‘report’ from the urban frontier of a future city… Bush is a most compelling collagist, and he succeeds in his attempt to forge a type of Borgesian cinema of the future-present. His tower of images speak of truth and fantasy to yield an incredibly alien and beautiful work of the here and now.' Madeleine Molyneaux – FNC
'Some striking, others dizzyingly vertiginous, these images construct, by the use of montage/collage, the vision of a megapolis of the future which is unveiled by a melancholic voiceover dialogue between an urban explorer and an archeologist.' Marco de Blois – 24 Images
'An unusual, intelligent, found footage style gaze at the urban environment.' Patrick Peters – Empire
'Babeldom is most interesting when it expresses its ideas not in words but in rapid displays of visual ingenuity…the complete absence of people in the filmed footage makes Babeldom eerily beautiful, not dystopian.' Icon magazine online
'A worthy, well-meaning and imaginative attempt to illustrate the way we have created ourselves as cosmetic distortions.' Jeff Sawtell – Morning Star
'Babeldom recalls Chris Marker’s La Jetee, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera.' Chris Fennell – CineVue
'What makes Bush’s film truly terrifying though is that these technologies and dystopian gemeinshaft images of cities are real. It is form this mixing of the real and mythical that Bush’s film finds its relevance' Kate McAuliffe – Dundee University Review of the Arts
'Paul Bush's film, shot within and without audaciously contemporary buildings in major cities throughout the world, is very beautiful. It is also strange, since it is equipped with various mathematical equations that light up the screen from time to time. Technically you can't fault either Bush's prowess of his non-narrative ambition. But you do ask what exactly it all means, as pedestrians and cars progress like ghostly specks through the dreamscapes of preposterous architects. whatever it is, Babeldom is a visual treat'. (Derek Malcolm - The Evening Standard)
BABELDOM screening in Dundee and Canterbury this month
and in Clwyd Theatr Cymru in June
Tuesday 11th June at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold
'There's a sort of refrigerated strangeness to this cine-meditation on the concepts of cities and the future, the debut feature-length piece by established short-film maker Paul Bush. It's about a fictional megacity called Babeldom, glimpsed initially through breaks in an icy fog: the Tower of Babel, as imagined by the elder Bruegel. Fascinatingly, it's not an actual model, or an animation, but something in between, and this image segues into perspectives of actual cities – lonely, dark, eerily untenanted places. Bush's own prose-poetry, decanted into two reading voices, tells us how the archaeological past is compacted underfoot while the future wafts airily overhead. These ideas are juxtaposed with computer-modelled graphics, whose purpose is to simulate, re-enact or anticipate the forms and growth patterns of future worlds and cities. There is something of Iain Sinclair, JG Ballard and Italo Calvino here, and of the night-time Paris in Godard's Alphaville: dark, cold and unromantic; a new city of the future.' (Peter Bradshaw - the Guardian)
BABELDOM screening in Cambridge, Dundee and Canterbury
Monday 25th March at Cambridge Arts Picturehouse followed by Q&A with the director
Wednesday-Friday 10-12th April at Dundee Contemporary Arts Cinema
Tuesday -Thursday16th-18th April at the Gulbenkian Cinema, Canterbury
'Awesome and terrifying... this is a film - and a city - to get lost in.' (Sight and Sound)
BABELDOM will open in 5 UK cinemas
The film will play 8th March for one week at the ICA London, Watershed Bristol, Showroom Sheffield, Nottingham Broadway.
There will be a preview at Glasgow Film Theatre Sunday 3rd March - Paul Bush will attend a Q&A
There will be Q&As at the ICA London Sunday 10th March and Nottingham Broadway Monday 11th March
BABELDOM will be shown at Flatpack Festival Birmingham
Paul Bush will attend a Q&A Sunday 24th March
BABELDOM will be shown at Monstra, the festival of animated films in Lisbon
The festival runs 7 - 17th March
BABELDOM will be released in UK cinemas by the Independent Cinema Office
UK Theatrical premiere at the ICA London 8th March 2013
This extraordinary documentary is a kind of poetic treatise on the idea of a city. At the beginning, the past, present and future are piling up levels of the tower of Babel only to melt into one at the end, Babeldom, the city of the future. Using images shot in several of the largest cities of the world, eg London, Dubai, Berlin, Shanghai, Barcelona and Osaka, Bush has created an elegy about the life of a metropolis since its almost mythical beginnings. Mythology blurs with historical facts so as to integrate the idea of a certain time parallelism found in contemporary cities. The past is below us, we live in the present, but we are the past of the coming centuries. As the archeologist says at the beginning of the film: 'The past is here, under our feet, we can't retrieve it, but we walk over it every day of our lives, until we die and become a part of other people's past.' (Martina Olszowska, Kino)
Best known for his conceptual short films Paul Bush presents an essay-film focusing on these ideas: that we live in a city so vast that it encompasses every city ever built, that we live in the stratum of the past while the stratum of the future already accumulates within us. During his travels the film-maker has shot images of cities concentrating on specific architectural details. Some striking, others dizzyingly vertiginous, these images construct, by the use of montage/collage, the vision of a megapolis of the future which is unveiled by a melancholic voiceover dialogue between an urban explorer and an archeologist. Paul Bush incorporates in his film animated data visualisation from recent science that also offer an image of the future by showing the latest results in the research of nanotechnology and astrophysics. These images become even more fascinating and uncanny since the director uses them without giving more explanations other then showing them as they really are. The film is presented as a science fiction documentary. (Marco de Blois, 24 Images)
BABELDOM will be shown at the Waterloo Festival of Animated Cinema
The Festival runs from 15 - 18th November in Waterloo, Ontario
BABELDOM will be shown in the World Features section of the Corona Cork Film Festival
The Festival runs from 11 - 18th November in Cork, Eire
BABELDOM will be screened in Etiuda & Anima Film Festival
The Festival runs from 23 - 29st November in Krakow, Poland
more details to come
BABELDOM will be screened in competition at Sao Paulo International Film Festival
The Festival runs from 19th October to 1st November in Sao Paulo, Brasil
BABELDOM will be be screened in the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal
The Festival runs from 10 - 21st October in Montreal, Canada
Babeldom will screen in the FNCLab 12 October 15:30 and 13 October at 21:00
If, for some lovers, the future starts slow (or so The Kills would have it), it’s already way beyond for the doomed and divided duo (she, an archaeologist, he, an explorer) of Paul Bush’s brilliant speculative fiction ‘report’ from the urban frontier of a future city. The allure of the vertical sprawl, that which can ‘soon be built faster than a man can travel,’ is offered as temptation, perceived as threat and articulated as gospel. Babeldom is a scavenger hunt, both thematically and formally, as it presents the most terrifically bizarre found images of daily life from the present, culled from Bush’s handheld digital adventures in cities (his native London, Osaka, Barcelona, Berlin, Dubai, Shanghai) and clips from the present, whose center just may not hold. These include architectural dystopias, mapping technologies, gaming platforms and surveillance camera tapes, to name just a few, all of which serve to posit the film as its own ghost in the machine. Bush is a most compelling collagist, and he succeeds in his attempt to forge a type of Borgesian cinema of the future-present. His tower of images speak of truth and fantasy to yield an incredibly alien and beautiful work of the here and now. (Madeleine Molyneaux)
BABELDOM will be be in competition at the Ottawa Animation Festival
The Festival runs from 19 - 23th September in Ottawa, Canada
The Festival will also be showing Bush's new short film Lay Bare
BABELDOM will be shown at Encounters Festival in Bristol
6:30 PM Friday 21st September at Arnolfini
The Festival runs from 18 - 23th September at Watershed and Arnolfini in Bristol
Paul Bush will be on the jury of the animation section of the festival. There will be a retrospective of his short films and a masterclass.
BABELDOM will be shown in a special screening at Hiroshima 2012 International Animation Festival
The festival runs from 23 - 27th August
As a ‘science fiction documentary’, this portrait of a futuristic city is narrated by one of its inhabitants. The twist is that all the images in this found-footage film come from architecture, science and technology of the present day. The future is already here. In many ways this is a follow up to Bush’s 1996 short film ‘The Rumour of True Things,’ now with a minimalist narrative thread running through the accumulation of high-tech imagery. Two lovers try to communicate, one from within, the other outside the city. Eurydice regained? (Edwin Carels)
BABELDOM will be screened in competition at Holland Animated Film Festival
HAFF runs from 28th March to 1st April in the city of Utrecht
December 2010-January 2011 Zhe Wu mixing Babeldom at the National Film and Television School over Christmas and New Year 2010-2011. Also present composer Andy Cowton, actor Youla Boudali and Director Paul Bush, plus various presents to console Zhe for missing her holiday.
BABELDOM will have its premiere at the 41st Rotterdam International Film Festival
It will be screened at the Netherlands Architecture Institute every day from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 January
It’s easy enough to take cameras into the future - I’ve got a collection of old ones in my cupboard. The problem is that it’s very difficult to get the film back. How then to make a documentary of the future? Babeldom is a collage of images filmed in the most modern of cities edited together with moving images from the most recent research in science and technology collected from universities all over the world.
Carrying a small digital camera on my travels for five years, I was drawn in particular to film those places in which the function of architecture seemed to have become removed from the requirements of everyday life, for instance in fantastical hotels, the over-whelming edifices of dominant financial institutions or the pragmatic tunnels of nuclear shelters. At the same time I began to contact scientists and ask for images of their most recent research, as I had done with my film The Rumour of True Things twelve years before, and for a similar reason: for the oblique and curious view they show of our society. Here I became drawn to some areas of research in particular: the modelling of crowd behaviour and fluid dynamics, nanotechnology and astrophysics. Above all else I was fascinated by the increasingly successful modelling of the chaotic, the indeterminate, the apparently spontaneous now for the first time yielding up its pattern to maths. From these, together with a few specially animated sequences using off-the-shelf digital models, grew the visual texture of the city of the future, Babeldom.
The result is a portrait of a city which has grown so vast it has encompassed places as distant and diverse as London and Dubai, Berlin and Shanghai, Barcelona and Osaka. But Babeldom is not merely a conglomeration of buildings assembled randomly; the city has evolved over millennia, building on the foundations of previous cities. At the lower levels of the city the past is buried – ‘we walk over it every day of our lives, until we die and then we become part of other peoples past’. Although compressed and deep below us, the past is accessible for those who search, and so is the future could one climb high enough, fast enough. But the city is growing at such a speed it is impossible ever to reach its topmost boundaries and only rumours and the sound of falling waste brings messages from the future.
In this city lives a kind of urban explorer who searches deep underground for traces of the past. The woman he communicates with is an archaeologist specialising in the ancient classical world. By chance he finds a relic of hers, a hair clip, deep at the bottom of the city and this is the moment that he begins to tell her his story, the story of Babeldom. Their correspondence come from two different episodes of history, the future and the present, separated by the enormous architectural structure of Babeldom, a mass so great that time is centuries different at one end of the city to the other. Their stories, together with two interventions by voices from the future, one describing the (fictional) Ubermath, the other the (historical) Solresol language, make up the narration of the film.
The central metaphor of Babeldom is that all of time is present at the same moment, captured in different layers of the city. The prehistoric lies beneath the Roman, the Roman below the Medieval. We too are buried below countless centuries in which the city has built upwards like a futuristic Tower of Babel. As in Boethius’s vision, all of time can be seen at once if only one could view the city from outside, but each of us is destined to live our lives in one small layer of the city, unable to move lower or higher more than a few levels.
The Polish writer Stanislav Lem, author of Solaris, regretted that science fiction followed only one of the many paths suggested by the writing of H G Wells. He pointed out another direction, one followed by authors such as Borges, Calvino and Lem himself. Babeldom attempts to take science fiction cinema in that direction. It is a documentary of a future city, narrated by one of its citizens. It is an elegy of city life, written and directed by a Londoner, born and bred, who is not unaware of the secret pleasures, dreams, and fantasies such a city holds for its inhabitants.
It is the strange fortune of unlucky circumstance that I have made my first feature at the point where in the UK there is no money left for film, but have made a film that probably would never have been commissioned even at the most enlightened periods of UK film funding. My thanks to all the scientists, many in difficult financial circumstances themselves, who generously allowed me to use their research in this film.
December 2010-January 2011
Zhe Wu mixing Babeldom at the National Film and Television School over Christmas and New Year 2010-2011. Also present composer Andy Cowton, actor Youla Boudali and Director Paul Bush, plus various presents to console Zhe for missing her holiday.
The Babeldom Choir creating a wide range of vocal sounds to be used in the textures of the background music. The workshop was lead by Melanie Pappenheim, Andy Cowton, Rebecca Askew, Mike Henry, Matthew Coombes and Jonathan Williams and it was recorded at Goldsmiths College Music department by Mariano Nunez West.
Paul Bush shooting (respectable) guerilla style at the Acropolis Museum, Athens.