Tag Archives: National Film and Television School

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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Movie Masterclass Revisited – Stray Dog

On June 13 2013, we posted an introduction to Kurosawa’s STRAY DOG at the National Film & Television School.
At the time the question of the use of clips was not clear and we chose not to risk infringing copyright.

We now include clips under the conditions of ‘Fair Dealing’ in the UK, or ‘Fair Use’ in the US.

So we are here with the first, ‘Revisit’ to Movie Masterclass introductions.

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L’Avventura at the BFI Southbank

Mamoun introduced L’Avventura at the BFI Southbank on 14th December to a packed NFT3. It was the last ‘Passport to Cinema’ curated by Dominic Power as Head of Screen Arts at the NFTS.

Mamoun did not have enough time to talk about many aspects of Antonioni’s work, so there will be a follow up soon: Antonioni and what the Eye can See.

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Passport to Cinema: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) by Werner Herzog

51EjuEKAvULMamoun would like to thank Dominic Power of the NFTS for inviting him to introduce Werner Herzog’s landmark movie, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser on Monday 2nd November at the BFI Southbank in NFT2.

Mamoun has this to say about the New German Cinema:

It is a mystery how and why a country suddenly finds a distinct cinematic voice and creates a ‘new’ cinema. Political, social and economic factors provide only partial insights. In Europe, the ‘new’ cinema moved from Italy to France, to the UK (culturally colonised by Hollywood, we preferred ‘free’ over ‘new’) to Poland to Czechoslovakia and, in the 70s, to Germany, or, more significantly, West Germany.

600full-ali--fear-eats-the-soul-posterThe creators of the New German Cinema – Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff , Werner Schröter and Wim Wenders, had diverse styles but collectively they were all radical-left/anarchist. At one end, Fassbinder was hostile to all institutions – and individuals as part of institutions – past and present; at the other end, Herzog focused on individuals whose obsessions, delusions, dreams, fantasies, aspirations made them impossible to assimilate – and led them to destruction.

urlThe question that is rarely addressed is how the filmmakers were supported and financed: public funding from the Länder, the federal government and private sector support from television, film distributors and exhibitors ensured the flowering of the talents of the New German Cinema.

Die_BlechtrommelHerzog has to date written and directed 18 features, including epics shot in the Amazon. Fassbinder made 41 films, intimate in scale, in 14 years – 41 ‘personal’ films, while Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz together made only some 30 feature films in their entire careers. But then our investors didn’t like politics (still don’t) – they followed Sam Goldwyn, who said: ‘If you want to send a message use Western Union’. Commercial viability was (and is) their only criterion. And we know how certain that is…

 

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My Darling Clementine – now on Blu-Ray – featuring a Movie Masterclass!

A fantastic new Blu-Ray release of John Fords ‘My Darling Clementine‘ was released on 17th August by Arrow Video – with both the original premiered cut in 4K and the longer pre-release cut in 2K.

Clementine Blu-Ray

They are beautiful transfers that are a joy to watch, but the extras really make the set something special. Included on the first disc is the Movie Masterclass on ‘My Darling Clementine‘ written and presented by the great british director, Lindsay Anderson. As regular readers of this site will know, Mamoun devised, produced and presented this series in the late 80’s. Mamoun is delighted that Lindsay’s masterclass has been included in this set, alongside other interviews and movies.

Other Wyatt Earp pieces in the collection include a transfer of Allan Dwan’s ‘Frontier Marshall‘(1939)  and two radio plays starring Henry Fonda and Richard Conte as Earp.

As this is a limited edition, we advise you to get hold of it while you can.

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Terence Davis ‘Children’ at the BFI South Bank – A discussion with Terence Davies

Here is a chance to listen to the discussion that Mamoun had with Terry at the showing of his first film ‘Children’ on 16th March this year.

Terry was, as always, charming, funny, witty and illuminating. Mamoun and the audience had a wonderful hour with Terry, taking him away from post-production of his latest film.

Special thanks must go to David Somerset of the the BFI for curating the event – It couldn’t have happened without his involvement.

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Introduction to ‘Rome Open City’ – 9th February at BFI Southbank

936full-rome-open-city-posterRoberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City is the first great epic of Italian Neorealism. Seventy years on, the movement still survives. At any one time a neorealist film is being made somewhere in the world. These films are forever ‘neo’ or new because they are fresh and unexpected, focusing on people not considered worthy of attention and/or events which are ignored or suppressed. The originating neorealists were not only introducing an aesthetic but also challenging the view that ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality’ in its cinema.

As a movement neorealism is flexible, adaptable and generous. Its essence is to be found in its bone marrow and not in a set of rules – there are no obligatory twists and turns in a neorealist screenplay, for instance. Rome Open City ushered in a cinema that can flourish and is authentic in every society and every condition. Neorealism is universal.

Mamoun is very pleased to have been invited to introduce Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) on Monday 9th February 6.10pm at the BFI Southbank in NFT1 as part of the Passport to Cinema.

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Passport to Cinema: Ozu’s ‘Late Spring’ afterword

The great Alexander Mackendrick said that drama is about life ‘with the boring bits left out’. Yasujiro Ozu saw it differently. He embraced the ‘boring bits’, the everyday. Ozu weans us, for a while anyway, from the need for action and spectacle. He enhances the ordinary to the level of both entertainment and poetry.

At a superficial level Ozu’s films are not about very much. Many scenes comprise housework (the sequence in TOKYO STORY is simply thrilling), leaving and entering the house, making tea, drinking tea, preparing the bath, sitting quietly, drinking sake (a great deal of that) – and a lot of walking. There are shots of empty rooms and corridors, and abstract exteriors that are often just part of something. For instance, Tokyo in TOKYO STORY is first symbolised by a shot of three industrial chimneys – Tokyo is outside the frame. Ozu invites one to contemplate, think, consider and interpret. It sounds like Art House cinema at its nadir. It is the opposite.

Ozu made more than fifty films and they were regularly in the top five at Japan’s box office. His popularity is puzzling considering that the stories are remarkably similar – but then so are Jane Austen’s, Dostoevsky’s, Chekhov’s. It is almost an aspect of greatness. But one has also to look at the style; Ozu’s is like no other. The narrative is precise and plot is minimal, often perversely so; the mise-en-scène guides us to what is directly important; the editing is spare, creating a sense of real time; characterisation leaves out much, leading us to put in much; performance is almost free of ‘acting’. Ozu pares away everything and what is left is essence and engagement with the audience.

After seeing a couple of Ozu’s films, the rest of cinema and television seems overworked and loud, serving entertainment to a supposedly febrile audience. One goes back to Ozu and the everyday domestic world, where happiness and pain begin for most of us. Despite, or because of, his stylisation, he creates the real world, the inner spiritual world.

Hollywood, Aristotle’s town, admired Ozu but could not follow. For the rest of us Ozu is a miracle.

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An introduction to Ozu’s ‘Late Spring’ at the BFI South Bank, Dec 8th

Late SpringAccording to the lists of 10 and 100 best films the world is a small place consisting primarily of the US and Western Europe. It seems only a small number of films have ever been made as the same ones appear over and over again. Convergence is the first step to entropy. It comes as a surprise to find that Japan exists – thanks to Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and to Ozu whose TOKYO STORY occasionally makes it to the top of the pile. Ozu’s LATE SPRING got to 17 and was called the ‘perfect’ film. It is more important than that.

LATE SPRING is Ozu’s first film with Setsuko Hara as Noriko – and she carries that name, but not the character, in the following two films EARLY SUMMER and TOKYO STORY. The three films are sometimes referred to, somewhat arbitrarily, as the Noriko trilogy.

Ozu is an elusive director. His films appear to be straightforward domestic dramas; the stories are not very different; the characters are played by a repertory of the same actors. In recollection, a scene or a moment from Ozu could come from a number of his films, rather like a Beethoven or Mozart theme when you have to think hard about its context. Soaps work through scattering plotlines outwards; Ozu digs inwards and downwards. LATE SPRING started a process which ended with the sublime AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON.

Mamoun will be introducing LATE SPRING (Banshun) at the BFI South Bank, Screen NFT2, December 8th, 6.10pm.

Mamoun would like to thank Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts at the National Film and Television School for inviting him to introduce this classic of world cinema.

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Passport to Cinema: ‘La Ronde’ and ‘Persona’ at the BFI Southbank

I will be giving introductions to two great films at the National Film Theatre at the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank next month:

LaRondeDVDLa Ronde: Monday 2 September
France 1950
Max Ophul’s masterpiece – an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s controversial play Reigen.

 

persona05Persona: Monday 23 September
Sweden 1966
Ingmar Bergman’s highly influential minimalist work. Considered by some as one of the 20th Century’s greatest works of art.

 

Passport to Cinema

The films appear as part of the National Film and Television School’s Autumn 2013 ‘Passport to Cinema’ season – the theme of which is Masquerade! Cinema and its Masks.

The screenings are open to the public and National Film and Television School students.

For current ticket prices, reservations and further information visit the BFI website – www.bfi.org.uk.

The Passport to Cinema schedule and accompanying essays are published on the NFTVS website.

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