This is a fund-raising event for the Horse Hospital, a rare screening of one of Peter Greenaway's fascinating earlier films.
Chicago Reader review:
The Falls, finished in 1978 and released in 1980, might be considered Greenaway's longest short rather than his first feature. The incident it describes, known as the Violent Unknown Event, can also be seen as the turning point in Greenaway's career; after the Event he abandoned the documentary style and started making films that could more comfortably be called narrative. It stands as a fulcrum between the two styles.
We learn from the film that the Event (or VUE), about which little is understood except that it may have been caused by birds, has claimed 19 million victims, most of whom appear to be turning into birds. The names and characteristics of all of the victims have been compiled in a vast encyclopedia, and the film consists of short biographies of 92 of these people. Using both original and found footage--and footage shot for earlier projects--Greenaway creates a wholly convincing vision of an alternate reality. Vintage clips of people trying to fly with synthetic wings illustrate "Potagium Fallitus," or the affliction of turning into a bird. Some victims are played by actors, others are identified by found photos--including one of famous bird victim Tippi Hedren. A photo of the Brothers Quay, the real-life experimental filmmakers, introduces the biography of "Ipson and Pulat Fallari," victims suffering from high blood pressure and synchronized blackouts. Others fear darkened cinemas or drive compulsively in circles.
It's a documentary but it's not. And the revision of the form makes us adjust our expectations about how we get to know characters. Whether or not a particular character knows the writings of a famous ornithologist, or if he or she has become allergic to speeds over ten miles per hour, is far more important than his or her age or occupation.
Here (and above) is an extract.