Zev Asher remembered at Cinematheque


The Cinematheque pays tribute to one of its alumni this week. 

On Thursday (January 16), filmmaker and avant-noise pioneer Zev Asher will be remembered with a screening of three documentaries, including his last completed film, 2010’s Subcultural Revolution: Shanghai, a portrait of extreme performance band Torturing Nurse.

Also scheduled is the doc that put Asher on the filmmaking map, 2004’s explosive Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat.  

In an unpublished interview conducted when he came to town for the premiere of Subcultural Revolution at the Vancity Theatre in 2011, Straight contributor Allan MacInnis managed to capture a fitting epitaph for Asher, who died last August at the age of 50.

Speaking about his 2000 feature What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band, Asher said: “It was in Vancouver that I contacted them and said, ‘You guys have a huge reputation in Japan…I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager, and I’d like to do a film.’ And they wrote me back and said, ‘Five people have tried and failed! You’re welcome to give it a shot.’ I said, ‘I don’t fail.’ ”

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A. MacInnis
I'm having great fun transcribing this interview, and wishing I'd gotten to know Zev better. Though he might actually have taken a subtle shot at me at one point - we were talking about a video collage used to illustrate his noise performance here in 2011, before his film about Torturing Nurse (which will screen at the tribute). The following conversation takes place:

A: Is video a regular component of your performances?
Z: Yeah, since I got into film. Especially if I’m playing a laptop or an iPod, in this case. It’s like cheating the audience if there’s nothing else to watch. I’ve seen plenty of shows of a guy sitting in the spotlight or in the dark - okay, it’s fine, but keep it brief. Some of them go and on. And I’m just a fan of visuals.
A: What you doing yesterday?
Z: That was a DVD I made in China for a festival there, and it just seemed to fit perfectly. It was outtakes of that film.
A: I noticed you cut some hardcore into it.
Z: That was a Chinese band. It was all shot in China.
A: No, I mean the facial cumshot.
Z: Oh, hardcore. That was just to kind of to see if I’d get a reaction. That was just something I downloaded.
A: Was there a reaction?
Z: It was so brief and subtle - no, I just got a few nudge-nudge wink-wink reactions, but nothing major.
A: Were you disappointed?
Z: No! I didn’t even know people would notice it, but if you did then I guess it’s pretty obvious.
A: It pops up twice!
Z: But quick. It’s just me being cocky...
Rating: -7
R.I.P. Mr. Zev Asher. You are missed by many.
And, thanks so very much, Al - for the celebration of Zev's life- so to speak.
Rating: +4
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