Dean Kavanagh is an experimental filmmaker from Ireland.
Kavanagh's films have been described as part of ‘an important new direction in Irish cinema’. His work is said to reduce cinema to its principal elements of structure, genre, narrative and apparatus, while setting them against one another in a complex cinematic language. These films, which fluctuate between meditative and visceral, discern the conventional and provide a sincere and personal approach for 'a new way of narrating things'.
'Feeling around in the darkest recesses of what cinema can be’ , Kavanagh employs highly detailed sound design, haunting imagery, and often re-appropriated found-footage to create a narrative that continues to shift perspective. Paralysed in a continuum of beginnings and endings, the viewer is asked to submit to the rhythm of the film to glean yet another dimension: 'nothing is stable here’. Throughout all of his films 'there is present a desire to confront the image, to destroy it, break it open and see what is revealed from the pieces'.
Kavanagh utilises digital and analogue technologies, often experimenting with obsolete formats such as Hi8, VHS, Betamax as well as recent digital formats derived from DSLR, action cameras, CCTV and camera phones. His work with celluloid includes IMAX, 70mm, 35mm, 16mm, 9.5mm and 8mm involves direct chemistry or burning, bleaching, scratching and hand-painting the filmstrip. His work also involves repurposing and customising projectors for the telecine and other forms of digital migration of analogue materials. The image capture process plays a vital role in the dramaturgy of his filmmaking, with an expressive use of found footage being an important aspect of his work.
Dean Kavanagh has developed a successful practice, independently and collaboratively, resulting in a filmography that consists of 65 experimental short films and 5 experimental feature films to-date. These have exhibited worldwide at film festivals, museums, galleries and cultural institutions including the Director's Lounge in Berlin, Spectacle Theater in New York, Alchemy Film Festival in Scotland, Fronteira Film Festival in Brazil, Bogotá Experimental Film Festival in Colombia, Museum of Modern Art in Brazil, Tehran Museum of Modern Art, Quad Cinema in New York, Istanbul International Experimental Film Festival, ULTRAcinema Film Festival in Mexico, Galway Film Fleadh, Cork Film Centre Gallery, Cork Film Festival, Gardunha Festival in Portugal, Philippines Film Institute, IFI Irish Film Institute and Barbican Centre in the UK among many others.
Read a full list of screenings here.
Between 2008-2017 Kavanagh worked in a collaborative capacity with Experimental Film Society, a former international film collective that was described as '… the most active, prolific and intrepid group of experimental filmmakers working in Ireland.' Kavanagh was also involved in the Remodernist film movement and in 2011 he contributed to the portmanteau feature film based on the Remodernist manifesto. In 2012 he created a production label called Easter Film Group which he later registered as Easter Film Productions Ltd. He is a member of Screen Producers Ireland.
Explorations of time, biology and landscape have been identified as key concerns of Kavanagh’s filmography, which has been listed for ‘best new work’ by international film critics of the Senses of Cinema catalogue as well as mentions and reviews in other international film journals. His work has been subjected to academic research by Florian Maricourt, under the research direction of Nicole Brenez a leading scholar and film critic on experimental cinema, whose doctorate thesis 'Le Cinéma Remoderniste Histoire et Théorie d'une Esthétique Contemporaine' was published at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Kavanagh is a recipient of the Film Bursary Award, Film Project Award and Next Generation Artist Award from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
Read a personal reflection on his work and process, here.