• Jem-Cohen

    Image: copyright Jem Cohen

The Whitechapel Gallery, Barbican and Hackney Picturehouse present a major film and music season for the first comprehensive UK retrospective of Brooklyn-based filmmaker Jem Cohen (b. 1962).

From empathetic and impressionistic portraits of cities, people and places, to his enduring relationships and collaborations with musicians such as Patti Smith, REM, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Elliot Smith and Fugazi, Cohen’s prolific body of work – more than 70 films over three decades – is widely considered as one of the most significant in international independent cinema.

Including features, essay and diary films, documentaries, installations and music works, Cohen’s output is rooted in experimental film, the traditions of street photography and urban aesthetics, and the collaborative qualities of the American alternative music scene.

Whitechapel Gallery Events


Museum Hours

Thursday 9 April, 7pm (£8.50 / £6.50 conc.)

Jem Cohen’s highly acclaimed 2012 feature is a lyrical and moving tribute to the power of art, a hymn to friendship and a subtle portrait of a city – Vienna – and its margins. The event includes a Q&A with the director.


From Gravity Hill

Saturday 11 April, 1.30pm – 6pm (£10.50 / £8.50 conc.)

A dozen short films capture the energies of 2011’s Occupy Wall Street and are discussed in an extended conversation between Cohen and Whitechapel Gallery Adjunct Film Curator Gareth Evans. The event also features a special preview of Cohen’s latest feature-length piece.


The Passage Clock

Thursday 23 April, 7pm (£8.50 / £6.50 conc.)

A rich collection of seven short films, including a tribute to Walter Benjamin with Patti Smith, a portrait of Jean Vigo’s daughter Luce and a sensory exploration of the lives and locales of Catania, Sicily.


the City and the Music

Thursday 7 May, 6.45pm (£8.50 / £6.50 conc.)

Two programmes of shorts explore both the people and sites of New York City in luminous detail alongside Cohen’s love of imaginative music, in collaboration with the bands Xylouris White, Blonde Redhead and more.


Amber City & Buried in Light

Saturday 16 May, 2.30pm – 6pm (£10.50 / £8.50 conc.)

Amber City (1999) presents an impressionistic take on an un-named city in Italy, while Buried in Light (1994) offers a cinematic collage on profound change in Central and Eastern Europe. Also included is a second programme of New York short films, introduced by poet and critic Sophie Mayer.



Thursday 28 May, 7pm (£8.50 / £6.50 conc.)

Cohen’s prescient and insightful 2004 feature Chain is an investigation of the new ‘non-places’, a hypnotic, original work about what it’s like to live in the rapidly globalising corporate landscape.



We Have An Anchor

31 March, 7.30pm

The European premiere of this major, multi-screen, live film and music performance, a love letter to the unique landscapes of Nova Scotia, sees Cohen collaborate with musicians from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fugazi, Dirty Three and more.

Hackney Picturehouse


Screenings: 17 May - 25 May

In May, four days of exclusive screenings at the Hackney Picturehouse showcase Cohen’s music projects, from documentaries to innovative short works.

• Benjamin Smoke + related extras
Sunday 17 May, 3pm (£8 / £7 conc. / £6 members)

• Instrument
Monday 18 May, 6.40pm (£8 / £7 conc. / £6 members)

• Building a Broken Mousetrap + short films for Patti Smith, Elliott Smith, REM, Sparklehorse and Vic Chesnutt
Sunday 24 May, 8.50pm (£8 / £7 conc. / £6 members)

• Evening's Civil Twilight in Empires of Twin
Monday 25 May, 9pm (£8 / £7 conc. / £6 members)