The AIR DRAFT: What? And er, why?

Posted by Philip Ilson on

Everything you need to know about our inflatable PVC theatre barge this sentence didn't already cover.

By LSFF’s Creative Director, Philip Ilson

The Air Draft: What is it?

An inflatable PVC cinema boat!

The brainchild of architects Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers nodding to a late ‘70s legacy of avant-garde public art and spaces you can inflate inside other spaces, the Air Draft is a pneumatic performance venue worked into an old industrial barge. For LSFF 2019, we’re mooring it up at Grow, Hackney and taking residency for our opening weekend (Sat 12th-Sun 13th Jan), bringing aboard live performances from the brilliant Lone Taxidermist and crew, alongside documentaries to satiate you with all things inflatable.

Fun facts: the whole thing blows up in just 12 minutes, it’s striking yellow colour was chosen specifically for optimal selfie lighting and there’s only 30 places per screening so we’d recommend quick booking.


Still: Action Space, Dir. Huw Wahl

Why is it?

Previous LSFF-ers might be aware I have something of a thing for balloons.

Inspired by Brecht Debackere’s 2016 documentary EXPRMNTL (handily enough screening on the Air Draft!), I found myself hooked on the experimental festival that launched a thousand experimental film festivals - Belgium’s iconic Knokke. It’s ethos: “real films” in “unreal settings”, and boy were they big on inflatables.

Debackere’s archive footage of the festival’s 1967 edition shows inflatable structures of all shapes and sizes with naked bodies weaving through indeterminate mass and psychedelic projections. In tripping further down this inflatable rabbit hole of artists, expanded cinema and very excellent balloons, and in spite of all cries of lunacy from the festival’s producers, I was determined that we must secure an inflatable for LSFF - and that we needed to be in it, consuming glorious short cinema.

The Air Draft was a serendipitous find as it spent last summer floating on Regent’s Canal outside our office!


Still: Action Space, Dir. Huw Wahl

What is happening on it?


4PM, Lone Taxidermist Performs Trifle

A musical and visual journey into the unruly depths of sploshing, gender bending, food porn and squelchy mass ritual. Lone Taxidermist’s utterly bizarre and otherworldly dominatrix tactics, all wrapped up in plastic, turn audiences members into exhibitionists. Tickets.

4.30PM, Action Space (screening at Grow, Hackney)

Back on land, we’ll be screening Huw Wahl’s documentary Action Space, a portrait of his mum and dad and the radical late ’60s-early ’70s collective of the same name that constructed large interactive, inflatable structures to create interventions in public spaces. A must-watch to contextualise the interaction of self and space in pnuematics and public art. Tickets.

5.45PM, A Beautiful Body Horror Video Show

A programme of work by artist filmmakers whose work delves into manipulation of the human body, whether through animation or in real life, to create grotesque and stunning images which amaze and astound. We showcase work by Rachel Maclean, Ross Blake, David Lewandowski, Jasmine de Silva, Bart Hess, Nadia Lee Cohen, Monica Menez, Harriet Fleuriot & Sarah Cockings. Tickets.

7.30PM, Lone Taxidermist Performs Trifle Tickets.



Dir. Brecht Debackere, 2016, Netherlands, 65’

Belgium’s Knokke Film Festival, which had a sporadic life span between 1949-1974, defined the modern film festival away from the red carpet of Cannes, championing Expanded Cinema and the integration of multimedia arts, music and non-cinema spaces. By ’74, feeling their work was done, the festival decided to cease but continues to be a rich source of inspiration for LSFF’s own programming. Tickets.

5.15PM, Intentional Community

Dir. Nick Jordan/Clara Casian, 2017, UK, 59’

A documentary portrait of Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research, a progressive college-cum-resident community exploring co-existence, collective work and our place in nature. Founded by psychiatrist Norman Glaister and educationalist Dorothy Glaister in 1950, Braziers is the longest-running secular resident community in the UK, and hosts courses and festivals including Supernormal. Tickets.

6.30PM, A Beautiful Body Horror Video Show Tickets.

And we’ve got even more stuff happening back on land at Grow, Hackney! Including more docs, our emo video jukebox on Saturday night and live comedy from Short Sighted Cinema.


Final Q: will there be heaters?

Yep! Fret not, we’ll keep you toasty. The full LSFF programme is out now.

Lead photo cred: Jim Stephenson