UK, 1985, 24 min
16mm transferred to HD video
"In The Black Tower we enter the world of a man haunted by a tower which, he believes, is following him around London. While the character of the central protagonist is indicated only by a narrative voice-over which takes us from unease to breakdown to mysterious death, the images, meticulously controlled and articulated, deliver a series of colour coded puzzles, jokes and puns which pull the viewer into a mind-teasing engagement. Smith’s assurance and skill as a filmmaker undercuts the notion of the avant-garde as dry, unprofessional and dull and in The Black Tower we have an example of a film which plays with the emotions as well as the language of film."
– Nik Houghton, Independent Media 1987
- Director Bio
- Festivals And Awards
John Smith has been a leading figure in the British avant-garde film scene for more than three decades. His films are known for their formal ingenuity, subversive wit, and oblique storytelling. Inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, Smith has developed an extensive body of work that blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction. Often rooted in everyday life, his meticulously crafted films playfully explore and expose the language of cinema.
John Smith was born in Walthamstow, east London in 1952 and studied film at the Royal College of Art. Since 1972 he has made over fifty film, video and installation works that have been shown in art galleries and independent cinemas around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals. Smith regularly presents his work in person and in recent years it has been profiled through retrospectives at film festivals in Leipzig, Oberhausen, Tampere, St. Petersburg, La Rochelle, Lussas, Mexico City, Uppsala, Cork, Sarajevo, Munich, Regensburg, Stuttgart, Vilnius, Karlstad, Winterthur, Bristol, Hull and Glasgow. He received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award. Recent solo exhibitions include Alma Zevi, Venice (2017); Kate MacGarry, London (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig (2015); Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin (2015); Centre d'Art Contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec, Paris (2014); The Gallery, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne (2014); Figge von Rosen Gallery, Cologne (2013); Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2012) and Weserburg Museum for Modern Art, Bremen (2012). John Smith lives and works in London and is Research Professor of Fine Art at University of East London.