New Cinema Shorts \\ Natasha Thembiso Ruwona: Beyond Bodies, Towards Waters

Beyond Bodies, Towards Waters curated by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona [71mins]

We float, in search of answers or,

m e m o r i e s

In search of a sanctuary on or below wet surfaces.

Towards, or instead of, a body of water

We are all fluid, geographical bodies

Meeting and passing through estuaries

Meeting and passing through particles 

Meeting and passing


Water’s archive can be traced across its various bodies; oceans, rivers, ports, rainfall. Water is our beginning, and a mark of transition across and through passages. But what does it mean to become a body of water? It encourages a fluid sense of being – movement and memories in constant flux. Water is always speaking to us – this programme of films inspires us to pick up a shell and listen closely to its rhythmic stories.


Films featured, in order of appearance: 

Reliquary 2 \ Dir. Larry Achiampong \ 2020 \ 12m 56s [Closed Captions]

The fifth film in the Relic Traveller series, Reliquary 2 acts as a response to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. Reliquary 2 is a work formed of animated sequences and unseen drone footage from Achiampong’s personal archives, complemented by an original score composed and performed by the artist.

arranged residues \ Dir. Sara Tammone \ 2020 \ 12m 32s [Closed Captions]

arranged residues is an exercise in measuring the space between my body and the body of water. It is a documentary of my attempts to follow the river and touch its water(s) from London to outside the city in Leigh-On-Sea where the Thames plunges into the sea. A testimony of the violent history that is being carried through its currents. A practice of re-organising time between quiverness and stillness through a mix of film photography, low quality video and written entries. It is a speculation between factuality and fictionality. An investigation of the traces left by movement in my memory. It is a process conducted through an introspective engagement with the water, a way to entangle collective and personal narratives to tell a story of, and from the water. The film translates my own journeys’ feeling of quest; a quest of observing and recording how the water functions within the space I inhabit.

arranged residues was created as a creative journal response to the course The Ocean as Archive led by Ayesha Hameed in 2019-2020 at Goldsmiths, University of London. The original soundtrack was produced by musician Itamar Henry.

Heavy Bones #2 \ Dir. Maybelle Peters \ 2019 \ 2m 19s

Interconnecting colonial histories of race, fungibility and blackness act as a point of departure. Following a trajectory where technology is implicated in the shapes of black bodies, Heavy Bones #2 is an intervention recalling mythologies of racial inscriptions.

Please note this film has no Closed Captions as there is no dialogue or music.

in the absence of ruins \ Dir. Cairo Clarke \ 2021 \ 27m 33s [Closed Captions]

in the absence of ruins is a moving image and oral essay, unfolding as a series of seven notes, in which “official sources” are asterisked with personal reflections and memories, narrated in first person by curator and writer Cairo Clarke. Her work proposes a generative methodology, queering archival practices to “develop different relationships to a past we are currently making and a future also forged by us”.

Clarke weaves together a layered narrative in which Pompeian materials – such as the carbonised remains of garlic, onion and lentils, as well as ancient marine shells – offer a starting point to read historical trade routes and geo-cultural exchanges across Europe, Asia and Africa, through the lens of her own personal history as a British-born member of a family of Caribbean and Indian heritage. Clarke notes how exoticism and curiosity have continued to extensively determine the fate of non-European beings – human or otherwise – over many centuries. Her considerations on the infinitely generative potential to layer and grow out of the absence of ruins offer an opportunity to engage with Pompeian heritage through a vision of complexity that celebrates entangled forms of interstitial knowledge, in contrast with Western taxonomical and museological practices set to dissect, display and order. Words by Stella Bottai

The Mail from Water \ Dir. Xuefei Cao (Cherphile Ciao) \ 2020 \ 11m 52s [Closed Captions]

This essay film is inspired by post-rock track Mail from The River by Chinese band Wang Wen, recorded for their 2018 album Invisible City, itself inspired by the fiction of Italian journalist and writer Italo Calvino.

The film proposes how humans understand the world through ideological fantasies and capital desires. Geography embodied in human’s fascination, imagination and artworks. Green palm trees, tropical islands and the emerald ocean feature as signals of mystification of the global south, where resorts are flourishing, attracting not only tourists but also artists, filmmakers and anthropologists. In parallel and fluidly – Science fiction about the cosmos, the space race and propaganda within geopolitical rivalries open alternative human ideological imaginaries of the world and beyond.


This collection of shorts premiered on Friday 4 June and was available to watch until Friday 11 June.

For New Cinema ShortsAND Festival 2021’s weekly programme of short form cinema, we have invited guest curators to each select week-long waves of moving images that ripple and reflect across the festival’s virtual, real and post-digital landscapes. This week’s shorts which premiered on Friday 4 June were curated by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, and are available to watch for a limited time.

Event info:

  • Fri 4th — Fri 11th Jun 2021
    @7pm - 8.10pm

Useful links