Director Ben Rivers in person for both screenings. Director Ben Russell will be in person on March 22.
As collaborators, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, two intrepid and nomadic talents of experimental film and art, have created one of the most bewitching cinematic experiences to come along in a great while. In A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, Robert A.A. Lowe, the celebrated musician behind Lichens and Om, gives a strangely affecting, perhaps even trance-inducing performance as the film’s Parsifal figure, a quixotic man who embarks on a quest for utopia—the holy grail of infinite truth, self-knowledge, and spiritual connectedness. He finds some measure of it in three seemingly disparate contexts: in a small collective community on a remote Estonian island, in isolation in the northern Finnish wilderness, and onstage fronting a black metal band in Norway. While his experience seems to be a perpetual one of home, exile, and return, for us, it is purely magical.