Tag Archives: Mamoun Hassan

Araña at Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals

” Chile, the early 1970s. A violent far-right nationalist group is looking to overthrow Allende’s government. Amid the fervour of crime and conspiracy, group members Inés, her husband Justo and their best friend Gerardo pull off a political crime that changes the course of history. The shadow of betrayal kept them apart for 40 years until Gerardo decides to jumpstart the nationalist cause of his youth.

Now, Inés is powerful businesswoman with a reputation to protect. As the police monitor Gerardo and his growing home arsenal, she will do whatever it takes to keep him from revealing her dangerous political and sexual past.”

The scenario of Andres Wood’s latest film  ‘Araña’ (Spider) for 20th Century Fox Chile.

It’s our third collaboration (Machuca 2004, The Good Life, 2008) and this time, Andres asked me to be Creative Consultant. The premier international screening of Araña is at the Toronto festival (TIFF) on 6 September and its European premiere at the the San Sebastian festival on 24 September. Sorry I cannot be there to see it but I wish Andres all the best of luck for for the film in the “Latin Horizons’ competition.

Mamoun Hassan

Read more on the Variety website: https://variety.com/2019/film/festivals/san-sebastian-horizontes-latinos-the-moneychanger-spider-chicuarotes-1203293556/Ines and JustoGerado at homeInes the beauty queen

Ines and Justo kiss

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Babylon screens at the BFI – An introduction

Following Mamoun’s introduction to Babylon in Calgary, he was invited to introduce it again at the BFI Southbank in London this July, as part of a coordinated series of events linked to ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now’ at Somerset House in London, which also included an event at the Jazz Cafe featuring a musical reworking of music from the film by members of the original cast/band. Mamoun was initially reluctant to revisit the film so soon, but chose, instead, to change his normal rule of not quoting or directly commenting on the impact of a film, as his own revisit to Babylon had been so powerful. We urge you to make your own voyage of discovery.

Filmed by Sherief Hassan
Edited by Sherief Hassan

Babylon can be purchased on Amazon in the UK here,  and on Amazon international/US here. Anyone wanting to own a restored Blu-ray copy, should follow the International/US link.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

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