Tag Archives: NFT

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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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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Introduction to Bergman’s ‘Persona’ at the NFT

Bibi Andersson and Live Ullman in Persona

Bibi Andersson and Live Ullman in ‘Persona’

This week I was asked by Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts at National Film and Television School (NFTS) to introduce a screening of Bergman’s Persona at the National Film Theatre Southbank, London.

It’s taking a liberty telling an audience how to view a film minutes before seeing it.

I prefer to give them a perspective, often by referring to the director’s other work. I talk primarily about form and style, sometimes about subjects that recur. I try to keep it simple. The film’s the thing.

Here is a recording of the event, montaged with a few slides:

The film was shown as part of the NFTS ‘Passport to Cinema’ season – a continuous and comprehensive overview of every facet of cinema, from its beginnings to the present day.

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