ImagineMag May/June

by Kai Lossgott

07 / city breath:
festival of video poetry and performance 4 south african cities – 20 short experimental films

gasps of the city
Kai Lossgott, Director / Curator - CITY BREATH
Festival of Video Poetry and Performance

Four South African cities, twenty experimental films, four minutes each. The long-awaited CITY BREATH Festival of Video Poetry and Performance comes to Cape Town with two screenings at the Labia Cinema on Orange Street, before moving on to Main Street Life in Johannesburg and the National Arts Festival later this year.

City Breath

“Through their common city theme, these short video ‘gasps’ or ‘breaths’ of South African cities give voice to the private dreams and nightmares of local poets, dancers, performance artists and filmmakers. They interrogate, with or against rational logic, the way South Africans understand their cities and urban life. Rebellious in their nature, under 4 minutes each, the films represent a genre seldom seen in South African film and television. “Inspiring, sometimes beautiful, sometimes challenging, and over-all very impressive.” - Trevor Steele-Taylor, Director of the National Arts Festival Film Programme.

Apart from selecting existing works, the CITY BREATH project has initiated and developed new collaborations in the areas of the video poem, screen dance and experimental film. Screening submissions from around South Africa, a selection was recently shown as part of “New South African Cinema” at the British Film Institute in London. CITY BREATH has also been enthusiastically received for screening by the Africa in Motion Film Festival in Edinburgh. German and French screenings are currently in negotiation.

A selection of the CITY BREATH films was first screened at the Badilisha Poetry X-change in May 2009, since which time the organisers had been hoping to attract funding. “This has been an incredibly hard season for funders with the recession and with funding allocated to World Cup projects,” said festival curator Kai Lossgott. “But the art of poetry has always been to create something out of nothing. Sometimes, no matter what, an idea is ripe, and the time for CITY BREATH has come.”

See citybreathproject for more information.


CITY BREATH. 2009. 01:07:11. DVD. Experimental film selection from South Africa.
Curator / director: Kai Lossgott.
Filmmakers / artists / choreographers / poets: Terry Westby-Nunn, Louise Coetzer, Lolette Smith, Colleen Alborough, João Oreccia, Khanyisile Mbongwa, James Tayler, Niklas Zimmer, Mandilakhe Yengo, Alude Mahali, Ananda Fuchs, Tanya van Schalkwyk, Mduduzi Nyembe, Bandile Gumbi, Maia Grotepass, Mark Wilby, Fabian Oliver Wargau, Nileru, Jeanette Ginslov, Erica Luttich, Anni Snyman, Koeka Stander, Rat Western, Maaike Bakker, Sean Buch, Emma Jane Laurence, Anders Weberg, Robert Willim.

Biography: Kai Lossgott
CITY BREATH director & curator
visual artist, writer, director

German by birth (1980), South African by upbringing, Kai Lossgott currently lives and works in Cape Town as a visual artist, writer and director. Lossgott’s personal work has been widely exhibited for numerous South African art award shows and screened at avant-garde film festivals on five continents. He is represented in a number of top corporate art collections. Lossgott holds a BJourn from Rhodes University (documentary filmmaking and dance theatre), an Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts from UNISA, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, all three cum laude. He has lectured at various South African universities, as well as facilitating community arts initiatives. CITY BREATH is his second large-scale curatorial project.