Prototype commissions Peter Strickland’s ‘Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp)’

'Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp)'

Experimental film and video art platform Prototype has announced a collaboration with English auteur Peter Strickland, commissioning his new short Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp).

Set to premiere in the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section of the San Sebastián International Film Festival, the Australian/UK co-production centres on an aging porno director (Michael Brandon), who makes a 2022 commentary for the DVD of an underground 16mm film he made in 1972 that has recently been rediscovered.

As the beautiful stud in the film (Sebastien Kapps) undergoes a series of erotic reveries, the director laments his doomed love affair with his protagonist.

Serena Armitage of Red Breast Productions and Pietro Greppi of Lunapark Pictures produce, with Prototype co-founders and Lauren Carroll Harris and Arcadia Films’ Alexandra Burke executive producing alongside John Edmond. There is also additional support from Arcadia Films and Container.

Curzon Film will be showing Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp) in select UK cinemas ahead of preview screenings of Flux Gourmet during a Q&A tour this September, while Prototype will release the film on its platform in Australia and New Zealand in October.

Established in 2019 with the support of Arcadia Films, The Australia Council and City of Sydney, Prototype began as a way for audiences outside the traditional landscape of galleries, theatres, and festivals to engage with video art and experimental short films via a weekly e-newsletter.

The platform has since commissioned 30 new video works, including films by Samantha Lang, Alena Lodkina, Gabrielle Brady, and Malena Szlam, with Prototype works having been exhibited at the 10th Asia Pacific Triennial, MoMA, ACMI and Carriageworks.

Harris told IF that Strickland was introduced to Prototype early on via Edmond, who co-wrote the 2020 book Strickland: The Analogues of Peter Strickland, with the connection furthered through Arcadia’s distribution of his 2018 film In Fabric and this year’s Flux Gourmet.

“We’ve all been trying, over email and Zoom, against all the usual pandemic hurdles, to support Peter to make a Prototype project, something uncensored and unconventional and special that wouldn’t be supported through the usual commercial filmmaking channels and that we could exhibit with extreme liberty online,” she said.

In a statement, Armitage and Pietro Greppi described Strickland as one of the most “audacious and exciting voices working in contemporary cinema today.”

“His films continually surprise and take you through a rollercoaster of emotions with their unique characters, and Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp) is no different,” they said.

“It’s provocative but with a strong emotional core, and we have no doubt it will be another talking piece. We have also greatly enjoyed partnering with Prototype, Arcadia, and Container, who all fully embraced Peter’s vision and have been extremely supportive from beginning to end.”