In many ways Theodore Ushev and Arthur Lipsett are a perfect pair, but funnily enough Ushev’s new film Lipsett Diaries isn’t the most revealing part of their union. Last week at LIAF, Ushev showed nearly all of his films, which were The Man who Waited (2006), Tower Bawher (2005), Drux Flux (2008), Tzaritza (2006), Yannick-Nezet- Seguin: No Intermission (2010) & Lipsett Diaries (2011). What a daring and dynamic body of work and whilst he appropriates different styles and mediums, there’s a strong graphic sensibility that is evident throughout. As if watching most of Ushev’s films wasn’t exciting enough, he then presented the films of Arthur Lipsett. Very Nice, Very Nice was made in 1961 when Lipsett was in his early 20’s. It’s so beautifully and confidently assembled. He used film scooped from the floor of the NFB and he cut together a collage of still images, the sound is key in creating the humour, although the films are very much political works, and evidently made by a melancholic. Lipsett’s films 21-87 (1964) Free Fall (1964) and A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965) followed. They are all worth watching on the NFB’s digital archive, which is where I first came upon the films of Arthur Lipsett last year.
Theodore Ushev was brought to Lipsett by a series of coincidences, and Chris Robinson (Director of the Ottawa Animation Festival) joined him by writing a script that sprang from Lipsett’s films. There are no diaries. Ushev has created the film using thousands of beautiful paintings, the impression is of great restlessness, which clearly chimes with the subject. The film is very masterful and engaging, but I would tentatively suggest that seeing the work of Ushev and Lipsett together was thrilling enough, and I’m not sure what more Lipsett’s Diaries was able to add. Ushev hopes that a curiosity can be created about the overlooked Lipsett, and I’m sure that he will succeed. This film is sure to arouse that curiosity and also sure to enjoy as much success as his other works.