Perhaps of all visual art, film is the one thing which can most gamely bear the move online. Lucky, then, for Tako Taal and Adam Benmakhlouf, this year’s invited curators of the LUX Scotland Artists' Moving Image Festival, which normally takes place over a November weekend in Glasgow’s Tramway, and that has, this year, had to move to the internet.

“I got the invitation letter the first day, really, of coronavirus, last March. Friday 13th,” says Benmakhlouf, who had been “up north” at the time and found out the same day that they’d possibly been near someone who’d got Covid. Some ten months later, the festival Benmakhlouf and Taal have curated is about to open, and in very different fashion to previous years, “So the whole experience really has been parallel with the Covid timeline in a big way. But a positive way.

“It’s been amazing to collaborate with Tako and actually make something during this time when a lot of people have had to stop making.” The reimagined festival, free to book this weekend via eventbrite, opens with a set of five films, ranging from Korean Kyuri Jeon’s shocking Born, Unborn and Born again, to De’Anne Crooks’ Lief and Sherisse Mohammed’s documenting of Camille Turner’s brilliant Miss Canadiana.

These are artist shorts, varied, refreshing, some quiet, some joyful, some powerfully moving – all thought-provoking and a vast yet intimate broadening out from the very rigid and somehow dehumanised mainstream public conversation so dominated by coronavirus and Brexit. “For both of us, the main interest was looking towards ephemeral moments, the kind of lifestyles and experiences, maybe even the artists, that might be lost along the way,” says Benmakhlouf, who had never properly met Taal before, despite moving in similar art circles, before finding out they were curating the festival together. “A lot of the films really signal that.”

Benmakhlouf points to Hayes’ Fingernails on a blackboard: Bella,, which is a silent transcription of an audio tape of a vocal training exercise between a vocal coach and the American Congresswoman Bella Abzug, to “soften” and de-regionalise her voice. “This is about vocal exercises you do to be heard, so you don’t have an accent that isn’t respected or given agency. It’s about constructing a persona that commands a level of wonder and respect,” says Benmakhlouf. But at what cost?

There is Isabel Barfod’s hand-drawn animation about prayer, about the rituals of hidden religious lives, “doing some work to make them shine a little bit, to give them some dignity,” says Benmakhlouf. There are examples here, too, of artists working in documentary style, “that really challenges the parameters and expectations of the genre.” Kyuri Jeon’s film is a hugely affecting short, with a personal slant, on the historic yet enduring Japanese Korean belief that a girl born in a year of the Horse, would have great misfortune (largely, it appears, because she would be feisty and make a “difficult” wife) and the subsequent horrific practice of aborting girls in inauspicious years – particularly “White Horse” years – since the early 1970s with the coming of ultrasound technology for sex identification.

“That really flipped everything that I expected to see in that moment. And yet, in the artist’s relationship with her mother, you see that there is a possibility for a loving relationship even amongst all that baggage in which one was conceived.” The presentation is a mixture of narrative and document, interleaved.

“That’s what we were looking for across all the works we selected, an intersection of really experimental, unexpected ways of using film, and maybe histories and experiences that are not represented, or only normally done so in a hamfisted way. Something subtle, nuanced.” Realising that this festival was not going to be like previous festivals, and keen to avoid “festival fatigue”, the pair made their own innovation.

The festival will not last one weekend, but the whole year, grouped in seven instalments, aligned with the lunar calendar. “I think it was when we were at Cove Park last October,” says Benmakhlouf, who spent a few days at the international artist centre on the Rosneath Peninsula with Taal as part of the residency that comes with the curatorship. “There was a full moon and it felt so powerful at the time.

When we came back, we pitched it to Lux. If we can’t all be in the same room, we can be under the same moon. We’re all going to be doing this in our own homes or whatever spaces we have, and it was about trying to think about what can be shared. This idea that you can look out of the window, wherever you are, and the moon is there.” The films, then, seemed to fall naturally into particular parts of this lunar cycle of showings, all of which will be online, including events, although Benmakhlouf says they are considering whether the summer instalment, which contains a long documentary made mainly outdoors, could be screened outdoors, depending on the restrictions at the time.

“Depending, we might even have a closing party in December,” Benmakhlouf adds, buoyantly, hopefully. After all, we might all be living under a different moon then.

GIVE BIRTH TO ME TOMORROW: LUX Scotland and Tramway Artist Moving Image Festival, Until 24 Jan, then dates throughout 2021 (see website) Free, booking via eventbrite

Critic's Choice:

THIS An Lanntair project of shared island cultural and historical heritage has been in the making for some time now, meant for exhibition in the physical realm in galleries and museums the breadth of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

And yet Covid has meant that it was not to be, as so many things have not been to be, and now all this wealth of artistic and musical material, from exhibitions on peat cutting and fowling to a survey of works by the islands’ artists and writers and makers, both well known and the ordinary folk, is online in one place, as well as on a new book and CD. A shared Viking heritage, and a tendency to be in the thick of wind and waves, provides the backdrop here, as does a love of the fiddle, and the voice.

Alongside a short films series, there is music, for much of the work of Between Islands was in live performance. There are contributions here from Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Maggie Adamson, many wonderful Shetland and Orcadian fiddlers, singers and others, and also the odd link to an old story or song on the website, another trove of audio treasures that can keep you going for hours.

And for those homeschooling/remote learning and looking for interesting things to talk about with the children, there is much here, from fascinating museum photos on island life in all corners to a downloadable resource pack especially aimed at children. And trows of course, which for those uninitiated are cousins of the Scandinavian troll, but perhaps more partial to a good tune.

Between Islands, www.betweenislands. com. Book and CD available from An Lanntair, 01851 708480