FILM PORTRAITS

 
PRODUCED, WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY NEAL LIVINGSTON, 1993

The Paper Age and Ancient Flight

Livingston has also produced a series of film portraits which profile unconventional people and their passionate pursuits.

Hot air balloons that are over three thousand years old? Diagrams of ancient airplanes and flight suits hidden in the design of jewelry, carved on the sides of pyramids, or even woven into rug patterns? Is it possible that what were commonly believed to be temples and palaces to the gods, could in reality be ancient airports and aircraft factories?

Absurd, crackpot notions to most of us, but not to William Deiches, an amateur Egyptologist living in Brentwood, a suburb of London. In the early 1980's he reassembled a piece of winged jewelry from the tomb of Tutankhamun into a hand glider. Three hundred scale models later, (with recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records, Who's Who in the World, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise) Deiches is convinced beyond any question of a doubt that the ancients had an elaborate system of aircraft and hand gliders. The technology was originally developed in ancient Egypt and from there made it's way to Turkey, India, China, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia linking all ancient cultures.

As you watch Deiches cut and paste his model aircraft from ancient designs you began to wonder. The designs seem to have some logic to them, even if few of them actually ever become air borne (Maybe a full size model would really fly if dropped off the side of a pyramid?). There are certainly numerous references to flight in ancient Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and Babylonian writings. Could this all be part of a technological age where papyrus was the primary element? A great "Paper Age" which ranks in importance with the Bronze or Iron Ages? Did this "Age" only come to an end after the depleting of the papyrus resources and the increasing popularity of the more down-to-earth wheel?

In the end, The Paper Age And Ancient Flight is not about either validating or the ridiculing of Deiches' theories. It deliberately presents no conclusion. Instead it is a portrait of one man's own personal quest to make the academic establishment reconsider its assessment of the ancients. Yes it is certainly amusing to imagine Mayan air fields, but they also laughed at Galileo once too.

"One likely looking oddball is Neal Livingston's The Paper Age and Ancient Flight, a 22-minute documentary interview with eccentric Britisher William Deiches, who expounds his theory that ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Tibetans and Incas few around in giant paper airplanes and left 'diagrams' of their planes in jewelry, paintings, and even carpet designs. Livingston's approach is entirely deadpan; if Deiches' theories weren't quite so loony, you could end up believing that everything happened just the way he says it did." - J. J. Kirchhoff, The Globe and Mail, September 16, 1992

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PRODUCED, WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY NEAL LIVINGSTON, 1987

JOHN NESBITT: SCULPTOR

Born in Montreal in 1928, John Nesbitt was originally trained as a cabinet maker. After the tragic death of his first wife during childbirth, he turned to art for solace. By the 1960's he had achieved a prominent reputation for his abstract metal sculptures. He then stayed in New York City for the next ten years.

Since the mid 1970's John Nesbitt and his wife Ann Richardson, have made the coast of rural Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia their home. With this move came a rejection of the New York art establishment. As Nesbitt notes it is what you do in your studio, rather than in the galleries that ultimately makes you a great artist. For him there is no separation between life and work.

The film captures both the poetic and the technical aspects of the creative process. We see what it means to be an artist who needs the beauty and the quiet isolation of Cape Breton Island to create huge sculptures of brightly colored metal and smaller works of metal and stone. In contrast to this is the harsh realities of the business of art, where ultimately it is the dealers who have the real power to get your work seen and sold.

 

John Nesbitt died in 2002.         

The film has aired nationally on CBC TV.

​"This videotape reaches far below the surface of a typical artist's biography to evaluate and compare the environment's effect upon a man's life work. Nesbitt, through his words and work, presents his viewers with his notions about art, the environment and audiences - which he prefers to be children.

"This is a beautifully produced and presented biography that should appeal to secondary and college students. It has special appeal in that it addresses sculpture, an art form that is woefully under-experienced at all levels of instruction. It is far from the how-to-do-it types that currently clutter the catalogues and shelves." – - School Arts Magazine, April, 1990.

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PRODUCED, WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY NEAL LIVINGSTON, 1989

JOHN DUNSWORTH: THE CANDIDATE

In 1988 John Dunsworth, an actor and theatre director (well-known from his role in the award-winning series, Trailer Park Boys) was asked to run under the progressive New Democratic Party ticket in a provincial election in Nova Scotia, Canada. A political novice and an underdog, we watch Dunsworth as he undertakes his grassroots approach. Seeing the campaign through his eyes we come away with a new understanding of the political process.

In the end he learns that in order to win it takes more than selling himself, you must first change peoples' basic attitudes towards government and political status quo. The 'Pick Of The Day' for MITV by the Daily News. A unique look at what it means to be a political candidate in the style of the Maysle film The Salesman.

"It ain't politically enlightening but John Dunsworth: The Candidate is quite entertaining. Neal Livingston's film show's the underdog candidate taking his message and his good humour door-to-door in a failing effort to convince the public he's the one to pick. The fact that it's very funny is a testament to the absurdities of the political process and the fact that Dunsworth is, after all, a performer." – Ian Johnston, The Daily News, May 27, 1990.

 
PRODUCED, WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY NEAL LIVINGSTON, 1990

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF JOHN ASHBY

Photographer John Ashby had lived and worked on Cape Breton Island in eastern Nova Scotia, Canada. Struggling to keep ahead, photography had taken a back seat to house building. Just when Ashby had created a successful construction business he abruptly disappeared to New York City.

His friends and neighbors began to immediately speculate on his whereabouts and the cause of his disappearance. Was it work, ... or a woman?

Meanwhile, we catch up to John Ashby on the streets of New York City, musing on life, his past and his future. Though the mystery is never completely resolved, the film uses humor to explore the serious side of contemporary life in rural Atlantic Canada, where leaving ones' community because of the harshness of life has become the norm.

"Livingston, in cinematic pursuit of a local character who has disappeared, retraces the steps of the absent subject to create a mystery without a murder and one of the more engaging documentaries in recent Canadian filmmaking." – Festival of Festivals (Toronto, Canada), September, 1992.