17 September – 11 October, 2020
Patrick is made entirely from 16mm film and sound recordings produced during a residency at Headlands Centre for the arts, Marin County. The film focuses on the life and work of Patrick Cowley; a singular producer of dance music who pioneered the hi-NRG “San Francisco Sound” in the late 1970s. —Luke Fowler
An introduction from filmmaker Luke Fowler
Some people’s favourite literary genres are biographies. At BFMAF, one of our favourite film genres are Luke Fowler’s portraits of cultural figures. Following studies on English musician Xentos “Fray Bentos” Jones, English composer Cornelius Cardew, Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing, Canadian composer Martin Bartlett and Scottish filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait, Fowler turns his faithful 16mm camera to the legacy of electronic music innovator Patrick Cowley.
A musician himself, Fowler draws on the audacious and experimental spirit of Cowley’s sound to throw an affectionate cinematic parade celebrating the life, work and memory of the music producer who we lost too early to AIDS in 1982, at the age of 32. Not preoccupied with constructing a neat and Wikipedia-alike “classic” profile, Patrick instead lingers through the places and spaces in San Francisco that Cowley inhabited and mixes them with the gentle testimonies of Maurice Tani, former classmate, musical collaborator and friend. The result is a visually and sonically joyful and textured elegy to a creative spirit who was both of his time and ahead of it. More commonly known for his audacious remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and his disco-infused, legendary and prolific partnership with Sylvester—Cowley’s visionary and talented creative skills led him to launch two solo albums as well as numerous artistic collaborations within the immensely rich gay cultural scene of the late 70s and early 80s, including creating gay porn soundtracks.
In line with BFMAF’s tradition to throw screenings at unorthodox and seemingly non-cinematic spaces, we can only hope to one day make justice to both Patrick Cowley and Luke Fowler by projecting Patrick in a bathhouse or disco dance floor. So what’s next for Fowler: Arthur Russell? Wendy Carlos? Whoever and whatever, we’ll be so grateful. —Ana David
Glasgow-based filmmaker and artist Luke Fowler questions the rhetoric and limitations of conventional modes of documentary filmmaking through a varied practice which encompasses the use of film, sound, installation and photography. Known for his filmic portraits of marginalized figures and communities within culture, Fowler has explored the life and works of R.D Laing, Martin Bartlett, Cornelius Cardew, The Pavillion amongst others. Fowler’s latest film centers on San Francisco-based musician and producer, Patrick Cowley – perhaps one of the most revolutionary and influential people in the canon of disco music, creating his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music, “The San Francisco Sound.” Born in Buffalo, NY on October 19, 1950, Patrick moved to San Francisco at the age of 21. He studied at the City College of San Francisco (where the film is shot)he also worked as lab manager of the Electronic Music Lab. During this time, Patrick, along with his classmates Maurice Tani (who is interviewed in the film) and Art Adcock, would create radio jingles and electronic pieces using the school’s equipment: first a EMS VCS-3, then an E-MU System, and finally a Serge Modular synthesizer.
Patrick (2020), Houses (For Margaret) (2019), Cézanne (2019), Mum’s Cards (2018), Enceindre (2018), Electro-Pythagoras (a portrait of Martin Bartlett) (2017), Country Grammar (with Sue Tompkins) (2017), For Christian (2016), Depositions (2014), To The Editor Of Amateur Photographer (with Mark Fell, 2014), The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott (2012), All Divided Selves (2011), A Grammar for Listening, Parts 1–3 (2009), David (2009), Anna (2009), Lester (2009), Helen (2009), George (2008), Bogman Palmjaguar (2008), An Abbeyview Film (2008), Paddington Collaboration (2007), Pilgrimage from Scattered Points (2006), The Way Out (2003), What You See is Where You’re At (2001)
Production CountryUnited Kingdom