Tag Archives: Mamoun Hassan

Babylon Premieres in Calgary – with an introduction from Mamoun Hassan

During a visit to family in Alberta, Canada, Mamoun’s elder son, Sherief, in England sent the barely credible news that Babylon was to be screened in Calgary as part of the Riddim West reggae festival. The last and only time the film had been shown in Canada was at the Toronto Film Festival in 1980. Anies, Mamoun’s younger son, contacted the reggae festival’s organiser, Leo Cripps, and mentioned Mamoun’s connection with Babylon.  Leo graciously invited Mamoun to introduce the film.

Filmed by Anies Hassan and Eric Giesbrecht
Edited by Anies Hassan

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses

Landmark British films at the BFI Southbank – 19 July 2019

The release of Franco Rosso’s Babylon in the US earlier this year triggered a series of memories for me of cinema in the UK in the 80s.  The film received rave review in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The LA Times and elsewhere. They spoke of it not only as a piece of compelling entertainment but also as a social and political document, as relevant today as it was four decades ago. British reviewers and critics have chosen to ignore the phenomenon.

For a time now, the term ‘social realism’ as applied to British cinema has been one of dismissal or even contempt. It was just about OK if you added a prefix of ‘poetic’ or ‘neo’ before ‘realism’ – or, of course, if the film was foreign.  We seem too caught up with stories of murderous psychotics and their multi-various and exotic ways of slaughter, and endless series of the lives of our dysfunctional Royals Through The Ages.

Meanwhile Babylon and much else is falling apart.…

The British Film Institute  Southbank is screening:

PRESSURE
Dir Horace Ove

Friday 19 July 2019  18.10
NFT3 GA

Intro by Dr Elizabeth M Wiliams
Goldsmiths University of London

BABYLON
Dir Franco Rosso

Friday 19 July 2019 20.50
NFT3 GA

Intro from Filmmaker Mamoun Hassan

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lecturing, News

Introduction to ‘The Lady with the Dog’ at the BFI Southbank

Mamoun was very pleased that the screening of Iosif Heifitz lyrical adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog was shown in the larger NFT 1 at the BFI Southbank. It is over 20 years since this classic film has been shown. The packed audience were moved to applause after the screening, and showed their appreciation to BFI programmer David Somerset for arranging this rare opportunity to see this masterpiece of Russian cinema.

We will be sharing the filmed discussion held after the screening shortly.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lecturing, News - Masterclasses

The Lady with the Dog – at BFI Southbank 13th May 2019

The Lady with the Dog will screen on Monday 13 May at 2.00pm in NFT I at the BFI Southbank.

Mamoun will introduce the film and there will be a Q&A at the end.

You won’t find many adaptations of books or plays in anybody’s list of Ten Best Films. Francis Coppola’s two-parter of Mario Puzzo’s The Godfather might figure and also Satyajit Ray’s trilogy of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s Pather Panchali, where it is difficult to know where the book ends and the film begins.  But where are the other great writers: Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Balzac, Ibsen, Melville, George Eliot…? So often we get illustrations of bits from here and there and dialogue, lots of it. Adaptation can be an inspiration but also a burden – a burden of responsibility to the original. Films need to break free, as in Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood  (Macbeth) and Howard Hawks’s liberties with Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not.

Books and films are more than plot, character and dialogue. To my mind, one of the most successful  adaptations, where the book and the film are one, where the film is the book and the book is the film, is the 1960 realization by Soviet director-screenwriter Josif Kheifitz of Anton Chekhov’s great short story The Lady with the Dog. The original is only 17 pages long – no longer than a film treatment.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses

BABYLON is released in the US this March

Unused poster concept for the film Babylon.
An unused poster concept for Babylon given to Mamoun Hassan

Kino Lorber Repertory and new distributor Seventy Seven are releasing BABYLON in the US next month. The film opens at the BAM Theatre in Brooklyn on 8 March, in Los Angeles on 15 March, and more widely after that.

Forty years ago I backed my first film as managing director of the National Film Finance Corporation [NFFC]: that film was BABYLON. The Board members were invited to take a leap in the dark. The BBC had developed the script but had passed on it; the British Film Institute Production Board under Peter Sainsbury had rejected it. BABYLON was a first film for the director; it had no stars, a wholly unfamiliar cast, dialogue and accents that required subtitles in parts, as if it were a foreign film – which of course it was to most people; it was violent, and it had no distribution guarantee or co-investor. I recommended we invest 83% of the budget: anything less would not get the film made. It was unheard of. Historically, the NFFC offered 30% at most. Further, a couple of years earlier the NFFC had invested in Anthony Simmons’s BLACK JOY, described by a critic as a ‘lightly ironic clash of cultures comedy’. The auguries were not good.

The script of BABYLON was co-written by Martin Stellman and Franco Rosso. There was no producer attached, but Franco and Martin had Stephen Frears in mind as director. I knew Stephen and admired his work, but the script was uniquely authentic, born out of Martin’s and Franco’s direct experience of the lives of black youth in south London. I thought Stephen would make a fine film, but it would perforce be a foreign correspondent’s view. Although neither of the two scriptwriters had directed a feature before, I suggested that one of them should direct it. Franco became the director and Martin the associate producer. Chris Menges agreed to shoot the film and Gavrik Losey joined as producer. The Board finally agreed my proposal.

The first five minutes of the film will tell you why I backed BABYLON.

BABYLON lives.

Leave a Comment

Filed under News

Movie Masterclass has a new home

Welcome to the new home for Movie Masterclass – all news and updates on projects will be posted here. We’ve brought our archive over from the old site, so you should be able to find archive content here.

If you find something not working, please let our admin know.

Leave a Comment

Filed under News, News - Masterclasses

The 100 Greatest Foreign Films courtesy of BBC Culture – Number one? Seven Samurai

Seven samurai posterThree years ago, the BBC polled critics across the world to identify the greatest 100 American Movies, followed by Films of the 21st century and Comedies.

Finally, the spotlight fell on ‘Foreign’ films – those not made in the English language. 209 critics from 43 countries took part.

Bicycle thieves poster

The results were not a surprise to Mamoun, who has given and recorded masterclasses on and introductions to many of the films on the list, particularly the first three.

Above all, Mamoun has given masterclasses on The Seven Samurai in many different countries: from Sydney in Australia to Zimbabwe in Africa; the UK, Greece, Denmark, Norway and Bosnia in Europe; Mumbai in India; Colombo in Sri Lanka; Havana in Cuba; Santiago in Chile, South America; and in California, where the masterclass was given in three different venues (UCLA Extension, CalArts, The Psychoanalytic Centre for California).

Tokyo Story posterA 65-minute version (edited from a four-hour session) was recorded for Channel 4’s series Movie Masterclass. Kurosawa productions acquired the licence for the Channel 4 programme, which was screened on Japan’s NHK.

Mamoun’s brief ‘Encounter with Kurosawacan be read here.

 

 

 

 

 

The BBC top 10 list:

10. La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
9. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
8. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
7. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
6. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
5. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
4. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
3. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
2. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
1. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

In the top twenty foreign films are Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) and The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966).

Mamoun has contributed a 45-minute video  to Criterion’s amazing restoration of The Apu Trilogy.

Mamoun produced The Battle of Algiers for C4’s Movie Masterclass, and he presented it as a masterclass at the BFI Southbank. The film was one of more than 25 films that he has presented at the European Film College, including Ozu’s Tokyo Story and de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

Masterclasses and introductions can be accessed on Vimeo.

The full list of films can be seen here

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under News - Masterclasses

Some of the Palestinians – Restored

We have digitally restored the original ‘Some of the Palestinians’ – a 55-minute documentary directed and edited by Mamoun Hassan when he was stationed with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon in 1974.

The film opens with a day in the life of Dr Murad, a Palestinian doctor appointed by the UNRWA to look after the health of the Palestinian people in a Syrian refugee camp. It progresses to a recently bombed camp in Lebanon to the West Bank, via Jordan.

The crew members and in Lebanon, the cinematographer, were Palestinians working in UNRWA’s Audio Visual Division, the rest of the film was shot by Ernie Vincze, the distinguished British documentary and feature cinematographer.

The final section presents a somewhat more acceptable picture of Palestinian life supported by UNRWA-sponsored humanitarian projects in women’s education and art in Ramallah.  This last section was not directed by Mamoun, he explains why…

I landed in Beirut with my wife and young family on 19 April 1974 to take up my appointment as Head of Films Branch, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). A leftist leader had been assassinated in South Lebanon the previous day and that event is regarded  as the start  of the civil war. A few days later I drove down to Nabatieh Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon to film the consequence of Israeli bombing. The camp had been obliterated. A few days later I filmed the effect of bombing in Rashidieh, a camp further down the coast near Tyre.

The brief was to document the services – Housing, Education, Health, Rations – that UNRWA offered the Palestinian refugees.  My immediate boss and chief of the AV division was the legendary Myrtle Winter-Chaumeny (writer, photographer, sailor, dancer); the director of Information was John Defrates, the bravest man I have ever met, who was a Navy pilot in the icy waters near Vladivostock during WWll. I was given a fairly free hand but editorial control rested with UNRWA. What I saw in South Lebanon and elsewhere gave me the form of the film: the experience of life in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan  – but not the West Bank because Israel refused me entry. Myrtle filmed that sequence.

So the story is about war in Lebanon; life in one the oldest camps near Aleppo established in 1948; work in Baqa’a in Jordan which accommodated thousands of fleeing refugees after the 1967 war;  and education in Ramallah.

Mamoun is keen for people to view this film. It is a timely reminder that UNRWA’s humanitarian work is not done, despite the decision of the US administration to cut $300 m from its planned annual contribution to the UNRWA budget in 2018.

He says,

“Since I made this film,  everything has changed for the worse for the Palestinian people. The locations for the film are now war zones or something very similar.  The tragedy continues.”

The restoration was made from an answer print of the edited film.  This version did not have English subtitles for spoken Arabic.  By referring to the only other known copy – a print held at the National Film Archive – we were able to transfer the subtitles exactly as they appeared on the film, which was invited to the London Film Festival in 1976.

LFF Certificate

Leave a Comment

Filed under New articles, News, Uncategorized

Bicycle Thieves introduction at the EFC online in time for Cannes Classics

The European Film College posts a select number of videos of events screenings and lectures to show in their ‘Screening Room’. A video of my introduction to Bicycle Thieves is now on site: https://vimeo.com/123839527
The  timing of the inclusion of my introduction is to the point, as De Sica’s masterpiece will be shown a at Cannes Classics later this month.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Lecturing, News - Masterclasses

LEY MACHUCA – THE MACHUCA LAW

Image from ‘Machuca’ dir. Andres Wood 2004

In Chile a piece of legislation is progressing through parliament, the Ley Machuca, the Machuca Law, which will make it mandatory for every school, public and/or private, to make a percentage of places available to girls and boys from the shanty towns and slums.

Why Machuca? At the centre of Andres Wood’s vastly successful Machuca is a friendship between a middle-class boy, Gonzalo, and Pedro Machuca, from a shanty town, who meet in Gonzalo’s Catholic private school following Allende’s policy of sending kids from the slums to private schools. Of course, after Pinochet’s coup, Machuca and kids like him were thrown out.

Andres Wood

Andres Wood.

Machuca is one of Chile’s most successful films. In just over a decade since its release it has become a classic and is on the syllabus of most schools, colleges and universities in Chile. It is even included in the UK’s A-level Spanish syllabus. But the Machuca Law is something different. At a time when Politics and Media have become the same thing, Machuca has escaped beyond the media. It promises to influence the lives of thousands of children and their prospects thereafter.

Related blog posts:

Don’t miss Spanish language ‘Machuca’ at National Film Theatre, Southbank, London, September 1

Congratulations to Andrés Wood: Machuca listed as top 20 Latin American film

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under News