Ben Rivers


Ben Rivers (UK) studied at Falmouth School of Art. He’s made 30+ films since 2003, ranging in theme from explorations of unknown wilderness territories to candid and intimate portraits of real-life subjects. His film and digital artworks have been exhibited at nearly every major venue dedicated to moving image art worldwide, including CPH:DOX, Harvard Film Archive, Indielisboa, IFF Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand, Courtisane, Image Forum, Viennale, MoMA, Sarajevo Film Festival, TIFF, 25FPS and seven previous editions of Media City Film Festival since 2008. He won the Fipresci international critics prize at the 68th Venice film festival and the Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel 42 (2011), Robert Gardner Film Award (2012), IFFR Tiger Award for Short Film (2011 & 2014), EYE Art Film Prize (2016), was shortlisted for the Jarman Award (2010 & 2012), and numerous other prizes internationally, including an Honourable Mention at MCFF 2009. His most recent feature Krabi, 2562, co-directed with Anocha Suwichakornpong had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival (2019). Amongst other programming activities, River’s is co-founder of The Machine that Kills Bad People, a bi-monthly film club at ICA organized with Maria Palacios Cruz, Beatrice Gibson, and Erika Balsom.


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: December 2 – December 23, 2020

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Things, 21 min, 2014; The Shape of Things, 2 min, 2016; We The People, 1 min, 2004

Things, 21 min, 2014

Things is a travelogue in which the filmmaker leads himself and the viewer through a tour of the four seasons, without ever once setting foot across his doorstep—focusing on unexplored things inside his own four walls. A year-long journey through domestic surroundings that at the same time is a trip into imagination and collective memory—revealed in the collected fragments of images, film, objects and sounds, a bed, books and, observed through a window pane, a squirrel in the garden.

As the seasons change, parallels and associations are made with things previously seen; an intricate web of clues to a life, there for the viewer to unpick.

The Shape of Things, 2 min, 2016

It is always hard like this, not having a world,
to imagine one, to go to the far edge
apart and imagine, to wall whether in
or out, to build a kind of cage for the sake
of feeling the bars around us, to give shape to a world.
And oh, it is always a world and not the world. – William Bronk

We The People, 1 min, 2004

A person is heard fleeing an angry mob—yet the uncannily empty streets show no sign of the chase. A never-ending nightmare. Sound reveals the hidden history in an imagined place.


The idea that something could be straightforward was always troublesome to me. This applies to so-called realism too; most documentaries I saw on TV as a younger person put me off entirely. It wasn’t until much later when I saw those films, along with those by Rouch, Marker, Varda, Kramer and many others that the form started to open up to me and become more interesting, partly because it wasn’t about condescending the audience, and also because I began to see this space of, as you say, one living inside the other. It was only in 2005 that I began to make something close to documentary almost by accident. I wasn’t calling it that or thinking in those terms. The significant thing that changed for me was that instead of constructing everything – the space, inhabitants, objects – I was using existing ones. Then the editing became completely free from the actual and at that point it is all about constructing a film that works on its own terms, almost disregarding of the source. Each subsequent film has developed from this process, some films remaining more faithful to the actual place and person, while others veer off wildly in their own way. – Ben Rivers

Read full article in White Review here. 

Curated by Oona Mosna