Category Archives: Bits and pieces

6th BFI Future Film Festival | Day 1

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I’m live-blogging from the BFI Southbank today, where the first day of the 6th annual BFI Future Film Festival is taking place. The festival is targeted toward young film fans between the ages of 15 and 25, and features a range of in-depth masterclasses, hands-on workshops, screenings of the best new films by young, emerging filmmakers and inspirational Q&As. Much of what’s on offer has sold out, but do have a look at the website to see if tickets remain for anything. It’s a popular festival!

This year the festival has expanded, taking place across three days, each with a distinct theme. Today’s is fiction, tomorrow’s is animation, and Monday’s is all about documentary.

I’ve got a mixed role this year. Right now, I’m blogging from the foyer, in the middle of a pile of beanbags otherwise known as ‘Blogger’s Corner’. I’m here to offer advice and ideas to any young people who might be interested in setting up a blog, or setting out into a career of film journalism.

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BFI Southbank

It’s incredibly laidback, and fairly close to the set-up I have at home in my other life as a freelancer. All that’s missing is the dressing gown (and the baked beans and toothpaste smeared down the front). I’m right next to Harry Harris of FilmClub UK, and you can talk to him about the film club services they offer to schools and young people countrywide.

Earlier I hosted an onstage interview with the very talented young director Rob Savage following a screening of his accomplished debut film Strings (which he made at the terrifyingly young age of 18). Also  present onstage was co-lead actress Hannah Wilder. The film went down a storm with the healthy crowd in NFT2, who asked some probing questions. Rob discussed such varied topics as his early immersion into life as a filmmaker, keeping to a very tight budget, and touring the film, while Hannah discussed her life as a young actress, and what it’s like to see yourself up on screen.

The day continues with a host of practical workshops, and right now, a screening of Saly El-Hoseini’s cracking drama My Brother The Devil upstairs in NFT3.

To sign off this blog post, I’ll leave you with the trailer for this year’s festival, directed by none other than the very talented Rob Savage:

Draw Something Wild | Criterion creativity

This came to my attention the other day, so I thought I’d share it. Some wonderfully talented creative type (with an enviable amount of time on their hands) has painstakingly reproduced most (if not all) of the Criterion Collection covers using the Draw Something mobile app. Criterion, for the uninitiated, is a DVD and Blu-ray label dedicated to lavish, special feature-heavy issues of classic and contemporary films. Their output leaves the dreams of cinephiles as wet as their bank accounts invariably end up dry.

The madcap intensity of this project nicely reflects the level of dedication and detail which Criterion brings to their work. Here are a few of my favourites:

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Visit Made-Up Stories for the rest

via @grady_hendrix on Twitter

Intel Four Stories campaign | The Mirror Between Us

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The other day I came across the online-hosted screening event, The Four Stories, which is the culmination of a campaign launched by Intel® in partnership with W Hotels to find some of the world’s most promising aspiring film-makers. Entrants were challenged to upload their original screenplays to intel.com/fourstories for their chance to see their idea brought to life on the big screen. The competition was curated by Roman Coppola and his production company, The Directors’ Bureau, with the winning scripts turned into individual ten-minute shorts, and a final film being created by Coppola himself. The winning screenplays were selected from global entries by a panel of judges including Coppola, Michael Pitt (once of Dawson’s Creekif you remember!), and the perma-trendy Chloe Sevigny (who I think I saw last year hanging about on Cambridge Heath Road, but I could be wrong…)

I had a butcher’s at the winner, and my favourite was The Mirror Between Us, directed by music video helmer Khalil Joseph (Flying Lotus, Seu Jorge) and starring the excellent Nicole Beharie (last seen – by me, anyway) in Steve McQueen’s top shagger comedy searing sex addiction drama ShameIt’s a beautifully shot short about two young who women embark on a dream-like adventure through the Maldives islands after an event turns both their worlds upside down. Here it is, check it out:

Competition | Win a trip to NYC with Reaction Replay!

At its most powerful, cinema can provoke a visceral, physical reaction, causing your face to do uncontrollable, unrepeatable things in response. Accordingly, Find Any Film‘s Reaction Replay competition is giving you the chance to win a 4-star trip to New York for you and your friends, simply by recreating your reaction to your favourite movie moment.

To enter, all you need to do is visit the Find Any Film Facebook page, look for your favourite film using their search engine, take/choose a photograph of your reaction to it, and then share it with your friends (or Facebook acquaintances – hey, this is where those people you haven’t spoken to in years might come in handy) to get votes. The more votes you get, the more chance you have of getting in the top 40 and winning the trip to the cinematic city of New York! The winner will then be picked at random and runner up prizes include nine iPad 2 16gb (!) and 30 £50 blinkbox download vouchers (!!). As well as Facebook, you can enter on Twitter, using the hashtag #ReactionReplay. The competition will run until 11.59pm Thursday 13th December, so what are you waiting for?

The organisers asked me to come up with a more personal angle to share with readers, so – because there was no-one around to record me at the time – I thought I’d fall back on the trusted facial expressions of Eddie Murphy to communicate precisely how I reacted to three particularly unforgettable movie moments:

1. Malik’s first murder (Un prophète – Jacques Audiard, 2009)

2. Johnny 5 gets smashed up (Short Circuit 2 – Kenneth Johnson, 1988)

3. The trip-out scene (21 Jump Street – Phil Lord, 2012)

And there you have it. Good luck, people.

Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival | 13-23 September 2012

Hark! The Peckham (née Pecknam) & Nunhead Free Film Festival is back, and it runs from the 13th – 22nd September. There will be tons of free film screenings, talks and workshops taking place in the local area. Of the programme, the Women in Film event stands out in particular.

Here’s the festival’s Lina Maria Caicedo:

“I have helped organise the event ‘Women in Film’, which will be taking place next week Wednesday 19th September. This year the focus will be on  ‘the female director’, and looking at female identity in film.

We will be showcasing a selection of short films directed by women and discussing our take on them. In addition, we will have two special guests: documentary director Tanya Stephan and Clapham Film Unit’s Charlotte Bill, who will be speaking to us about their experiences in the film industry. It will be an interesting discussion because each director has a different background and a different story to tell.

It’s not a huge event, but definitely thought provoking, offering insight as to where women stand in the film industry today. Can we really imagine a woman directing a Tarantino movie? Are there any social/cultural barriers still present? – There were no female directors nominated at the Cannes Film Festival – Why?

I don’t know the answers to these questions but if you are interested….come, listen and discuss!!”

Details: 8-10 pm (doors open from 7.30pm), Nunhead Library, Gordon Road, SE15 3RW – 50 capacity(Bring drinks and nibbles to share)

Check the website for more information and the full programme: http://www.freefilmfestivals.org/whats-on.html, and follow on Twitter @freefilmfest.

Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon

Over the weekend I watched a couple of excellent documentaries about key global anti-authoritarian figures. The first was Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, which intimately tracks the activities of the dissident Chinese artist from 2008 up until 2011 when he was detained by authorities. The second was Fela Kuti – Music is the Weapona short doc from 1982 which takes a look at the legendary Nigerian musician’s passionate interweaving of performance and politics set against the backdrop of tumult in his home country. The doc is on YouTube so if you find yourself with 50 minutes to spare, here it is. Credit to unpronounceable YouTuber n3ph3dh for the upload.

On a further Fela-related note, the BFI’s African Odysseys strand continues this weekend (Sat 18, 2pm) with a screening of the documentary Fela: Fresh From Africa which focuses on his long-awaited return to New York in 1986 and features extensive, exciting live footage. You can buy tickets here.

A few reasons to come and see Do The Right Thing at the Hackney Picturehouse tonight (or tomorrow)

If you think you’ve seen a post very similar to this one in the recent past, it’s because you have. But the last time I checked, copying and pasting was not a crime.

As part of Picturehouse Cinemas’ ongoing American Masters strand, the lovely Hackney Picturehouse is running two late night screenings of Spike Lee’s classic Do The Right Thing, tonight (Aug 10) and tomorrow (Aug 11), start time 22:40. I’ll be popping down to introduce tonight’s screening.

In case you were undecided about whether or not to come along, here are some reasons to convince you to part with your cash.

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1. We’re screening it in 35mm

Back in the day, any time you went to a cinema you’d be seeing your film of choice on a celluloid print. However, in recent times, for reasons both economic and access-based, exhibitors have increasingly tended to show films digitally (Won’t go into detail here, but this is a good read). But the boat’s been pushed out to source a genuine 35mm print from Universal, so you can appreciate Ernest Dickerson’s stunning cinematography in all its glory.

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2. Style tips for what remains of our wondrous London summer

You need look no further for inspiration than Ruth E. Carter’s costumes for the film. Here’s a little excerpt from a piece I wrote about the film’s style for the great website Clothes on Film“Carter’s contribution is vital in three key areas: establishing a sense of place and adding depth to the characters, supporting the film’s themes, and contributing to a bold onscreen representation of blackness which, as suggested by Ed Guerrero, ‘challenges and erodes the skin-colour hierarchy of Hollywood’s classic optical hegemony'”. If that’s a bit academic, I’ll put it straight: the clothes are fucking cool.

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3. It’s not only Spike’s best film, but one of the best of the ’80s

Spike’s third film marked the flowering of a major, major talent. An epic cocktail of drama, comedy, style, music and politics, Do The Right Thing wowed audiences and critics alike, and proved the major catalyst in the black American cinema boom of the early 1990s (think Boyz N The HoodMenace II SocietyJuiceFresh, Spike’s subsequent joints). Watch it now and you’ll be stunned by how it doesn’t seem to have dated at all (save for the occasional haircut). It’s also difficult to think of another film with so many amazing, unforgettable characters: Radio Raheem, Da Mayor, Mookie, Senor Love Daddy, Pino, Sweet Dick Willie, Tina, the list goes on. What’s more, Lee’s new film Red Hook Summer (out now in the USA, UK release TBC) sees the director return to Brooklyn for a pseudo-sequel – Mookie’s even rumoured to have a small cameo. This is a great chance to prepare yourself.

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4. Because… well, because FIGHT THE POWER, innit?

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Hop on down to the Hackney Picturehouse and buy tickets on the door. Map here.

Biggie Smalls vs. Thomas the Tank Engine

Bugger me if this has got anything whatsoever to do with film (though given enough time and effort there’s probably some kind of Nick Broomfield pun in there), but it’s pretty much the funniest thing I’ve ever seen/heard, so who cares? Been busy recently, back to regular (film-themed) posting soon, I promise.

Credit to YouTuber wasakwarrior for upload, and Tweeter @lizardhips for the spot.

When 80s paranoia pop funk meets mental 80s horror

Well it made me laugh anyway. Some bright spark (YouTuber MrsFreddyMercury) has cut bits of the late Ken Russell’s barking mad 1986 horror Gothic to the sounds of Rockwell’s cheesy 1984 hit ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’. When Rockwell starts doing his silly “everyman” voice and Gabriel Byrne whips out his quill, it’s pretty much a perfect storm of ridiculousness. It gets even better when Rockwell pipes (is it supposed to be an English accent?): “When I’m in the SHAR (shower) and I’m afraid to wash my HAR (hair)!” and MrsFreddyMercury cuts to a shot of Julian Sands flapping about in the SHAR (shower). Anyway, I’ve written too much on this already. Just watch:

For a more thorough appraisal of the film, head over to this article on great blog Cinemart.

Beyond weird: Phil Collins’ noir short film Calliope

You couldn’t make it up. And I haven’t. On a lazy YouTube Saturday (you know how they go), I happened across this genuine oddity starring Phil Collins (‘Sussudio’) as Jackson Dover, an unctuous thriller writer who creates a character – femme fatale Calliope – only for her to “come to life” and start blowing away his critics. Martin Jarvis (who I’ve only recently worked out is the spitting image of Geoffrey from Rainbow) gamely supports as Dover’s suave, Lego-haired, dickie-bowed agent.

It’s a kind of weird, wish-fulfilment, meta-noir that never quite manages to vault Collins’ innate smugness, and gets in a bit of a fangle towards the end due to its own clever-cleverness. But, you know what? It’s actually kinda fun (and keep watching to the end for a couple of great cameos, one of which connects it to Robert Altman’s The Player; a film it superficially resembles). Apparently it was made in 1993 as part of a film course at the Royal College of Art by director Alun Harris.

Credit to YouTuber (and massive Phil Collins fan, if his playlists are anything to go by) bastidiaz for the upload. Enjoy: