Arbeit. 2011. Great Britain. Directed by Duncan Campbell. 39 min.
"With old newsreels, photography and commercials, Campbell builds contrary tales of people, time and place, in which the picture is forever shifting depending on who is holding the camera.... Arbeit sees the artist's interests move from Belfast to Westphalia and beyond, examining the build-up to Europe's current financial meltdown. As former head of Deutsche Bundesbank and an EU top dog, [influential German economist Hans] Tietmeyer's story continually mushrooms from the particular to the epic, taking in Germany's reunification, the introduction of the euro and the current crisis. Largely made up of black-and-white photographs, the film is held together by a narrator who speaks with the crusty, antiquated lingo of an ancient Oxford don. He is constantly struggling with his material: from the accounts of hack journalists leapfrogging 'complex procedure' in favour of 'crude caricatures,' to his own tendency to let hindsight colour his descriptions. What emerges is an obscure trail of figures, economic theory and personal anecdotes, which have nonetheless led to where we are now. Whether he's making protean portraits of players or politicians, Campbell's constant is the problem of navigating the past itself" (Skye Sherwin, The Guardian).
Bernadette. 2008. Great Britain. Directed by Duncan Campbell. 38 min.
Bernadette presents an unraveling, open-ended narrative about the female Irish dissident and political activist Bernadette Devlin. Campbell fuses documentary and fiction in order to assess both the subject matter and the mode of communicating it. “Documentary is a peculiar form of fiction. It has the appearance of verity grounded in many of the same formal conventions of fiction—narrative drive, linear plot, and closure. Yet, the relationship between author/subject/audience is rarely investigated in the same way as it is in meta-fiction. I want to faithfully represent Devlin, to do justice to her legacy. Yet what I am working with, are already mediated images and writings about her. What I produce can only ever be a selection of these representations, via my own obsessions and my desire to make engaging art of her. My film is an admission of limitation, but I have too much respect for Devlin for it to be an expression of nihilism or irony. I am striving for what Samuel Beckett terms, 'a form that accommodates the mess.' I want to broaden the scope of the film to include this space and tension, which is typically excluded or concealed, and that is the reason for the overlapping strands in the film” (Duncan Campbell).