My day at Filmspot: Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari

Hello, dear reader! My name is Kathrin and I’m 22 yrs old, and come from Germany. Through my internship here in Brighton I came to know Rachel Hunter, who runs ‘Filmspot’ with her partner Rob Cunningham. It was an honour for me to accompany them to the screening of ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ in Eastbourne and to have an insight behind the scenes. Here is a little report about the day I had my first encounter with the ‘touring celebration of cinema’.

“It looks like a doughnut that has sunk into the ground.” Well, actually this is a pretty accurate visual description of the Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne that hosted the screening of ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ on Friday 26 September. I didn’t have any idea of what that fortress would look like, nor had I visited one before. But there is always a first time for everything!
In bright daylight, the fortress looked quite harmless. Imagining it as a sunken doughnut, as Rachel suggested, helped me to overlook the slight spooky atmosphere that lurked behind the closed doors. It is a little bit odd but these plain doors, that faced each other in a round circle, reminded me somehow of ‘Alice in Wonderland’: do you remember the room with the vast number of doors in different sizes and shapes? Basically they have nothing in common, but because there were so many of them in one space I could easily imagine various rooms and places hiding behind them – like in Wonderland. Sorry, moving on from the doors!

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‘Our’ room, served as our little cinema for the evening, was the perfect location for the screening of such a thrilling film. The narrow walls and covered windows conveyed the perfect feeling of being trapped – with nowhere to escape. Not a good thing when it’s dark and you are at the mercy of Dr Caligari.
But one step at a time – we were still in the phase of setting up the cinema. While the Filmspotters unloaded their kit, I was entrusted with a single-lens reflex camera to take some photos of the event. Just like that! Oh my God! I felt like I was carrying the crown jewels. I wouldn’t have dared to let it out of my sight or out of my hands. Forgotten was my small pink digital camera which I loved dearly up to that day. It was the first time I held something that precious in my hands and I could somehow understand Rachel’s fear of hanging up the projector – the most important part of their kit. It was a huge joy to spend the whole afternoon practicing and familiarising myself with the camera and taking pictures of everything and everyone around me. It was nice to have an actual task and to feel like a part of the crew. There was always something to do. The main aim was to set up the projector and adjust its height and angle as well as to test the picture on an actual screen. This might sound like no big deal, but it’s quite time consuming when you see the amount of equipment that is essential for these processes. The hours went by faster than I could have imagined.

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Not long after us the musicians arrived who were responsible for the live soundtrack during the screening. A big applause for ‘Partial Facsimile’ is in order at this point. Their whole performance was amazing, not only their focus on detail, but also their wonderful costumes. For a start there were Laila (who didn’t dare to catch a breath during the whole day) and Steve, both guitarists. I was amazed by the amount of stuff they brought into that little room. At some point I had real doubts that there was still space for the audience in the end.

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It was great fun to test my camera skills now on more than two people (I hope Rachel and Rob didn’t feel harassed by the constant clicking of me pressing the camera button, I swear I would have been). Taking pictures of moving people is harder than I imagined before, but it was definitely great fun catching people off guard and documenting their working process.

Time for the lunch break! Fish and chips are always a good thing to fill your stomach, especially when you had just a small breakfast and are rushing around all day. The break gave us a nice time to sit down and to get to know each other a little bit more. Steve is from Liverpool and composed most of the music as well as playing the guitar. The same applies for Laila. She was so engaged with the set up and preparation for the screening, she would not have a proper lunch. I know that feeling so well. When you are excited and stressed out at the same time, food doesn’t seem like a good idea. After lunch the remaining musicians arrived –Ben and Andy. Ben’s task for the screening was the impersonation of Dr Caligari himself (more about that outstanding performance later), while Andy was responsible for a beautiful bass.

At this point I’d like to stress the kindness of the people at the Redoubt Fortress. They were very friendly and quite excited to see the film themselves. Also, when I visited the Fortress’s museum, I got a very detailed tour of small, specific features the visitor may overlook. They had always a sympathetic ear for us, and were there whenever we needed a hand. Thank you!

After my visit in the museum it was my time to head out to a work-related appointment while the others were getting ready to welcome the audience. To my relief, I made it back in time to take photos of the visitors before the lights went out. The appearance of the room we had prepared in the afternoon completely changed – not only because of the darkness that conquered every corner of the Fortress, but also the vast quantities of equipment had vanished. The musicians wore their theme matching costumes and had covered their faces with white colour – a perfect addition to the whole composition of this wonderful location, the upcoming film and their very own soundtrack.

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The room was filled with people and I used the remaining minutes to the start of the film to take pictures of the audience and the whole ambience. The Filmspotters did an amazing job of installing subtle lights in forms of candles and background lamps in different colours to create a haunting atmosphere.
I have never seen ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ before, so I was quite excited about it as well. While Rachel went to the front and welcomed everyone officially, Rob and the musicians got ready to start the movie and the soundtrack in the exact same moment. Their efforts definitely paid off in the end, because it was essential for the synchronicity of both elements.

I won’t talk much about the actual movie itself because I think everyone should watch it for themselves. As much as I can say is that it was gripping and fascinating at the same time. You don’t need voices to be sucked in that haunting story. You would sit at the edge of your seat, not entirely sure if you are able to stand the intensity of the close-up shots of Dr Caligari combined with the live soundtrack. But not only the soundtrack gave me the chills, it was Ben’s impersonation of Dr Caligari as well. His deep breaths, his laughter – I was genuinely scared of him, I hope he is satisfied. I almost forgot to take pictures at this point!

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At the end of the film I just sat there on my chair, dwelling in the post-film atmosphere, before I took some last photos.
One day with Filmspot actually reawakened my longing for watching classical movies again and my interest for touring cinemas. Not only because of the screening itself but also seeing the effort and love behind the scenes, seeing how much everyone have put into this project to make the best of it.
It was so much fun to be part of that team for one day and I would do it again immediately. I hope to be back again, maybe as photographer or just as part of the audience, we’ll see.

But I will be back.

P.S. Okay, that sounded like a threat, of course it wasn’t meant that way . . . or was it?

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Fun in a field in Isfield… and Scalarama!

We had a lovely time last night, running a marquee cinema screening of Disney/ Pixar’s ‘Up’ with the Isfield Community Enterprise (ICE). Everybody had a great time, and we’re looking forward to running more events there in the future!

The Audience in the ICE Marquee, in Isfield

The Audience in the ICE Marquee, in Isfield

Some of our younger visitors, enjoying 'Up'

Some of our younger visitors, enjoying ‘Up’springing into September with

We’ve hardly drawn breath, though, and we’re on to our next screenings! As you will remember from last year, September means Scalarama, and this year we’ve got involved with three exciting film events: one in Seaford, and two in Eastbourne.

Sat 20 September: SIDEWALK STORIES (1989)
Clinton Centre, Seaford, Clinton Place, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 1NP
7pm, tickets £4

Fri 26 September: DAS CABINET DES DR CALIGARI (1920) – with live score from Partial Facsimile
Redoubt Fortress, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQ
Doors 7pm, for 7.30pm start, tickets £5

Sat 27 September: CHILDRENS FILM FOUNDATION DOUBLE BILL: THE GLITTERBALL AND THE BOY WHO TURNED YELLOW
Redoubt Fortress, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQ
12.30pm, FREE

To book for any of the Scalarama screenings, please email info@filmspot.org.uk or contact me (Rachel) on 07525 357393

We’ll be looking at each of the titles in a bit more detail over coming weeks, but until then, you can see the full programme for this year’s Scalarama on their website: www.scalarama.com


Centenary cinema at Newhaven Fort

We are looking forward to our special weekend this week at Newhaven Fort, to mark the beginning of The Great War. We will be showing two classic WWI films in their atmospheric Romney Hut:

Saturday 2 August, Doors 6.30pm (film starts at 7pm)

‘Wings’ (u) [1927] A rare opportunity to see this classic silent film on the big screen, ‘Wings’ features Clara Bow, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper, and won the first Academy Award for Best Picture.

Here’s a short clip showing some of the awe-inspiring airborne stunts from this incredible silent film:

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (PG) [1930] One of the most powerful anti-war films, this realistic and harrowing depiction of war is regarded as one of the greatest American movies of all time.

To give you a taster, here’s a haunting clip from the film:

Tickets are £7 per screening (£6 concessions) and are available from Newhaven Fort on 01273 517622.

We hope to see you there!!

To mark this special weekend, we shall be posting up some other films about WWI, so do check back soon!

 


Endless Summer…

Hi Filmspotters -

I hope you’re all having as enjoyable a summer as we are here at Filmspot HQ. We’ve just completed our the first leg of our summer screenings, and we’re now looking forward to a quick regroup before our August events kick off!

We ran our first Deaf Community Cinema Night, in support of the Brighton Deaf Diaspora on 21 June. We screened the short film, ‘Retreat’ by deaf filmmaker, Ted Evans, followed by a screening of ‘Gravity’ – both films featured subtitles for the hard of hearing. We feel it was a great success, with some great feedback from attendees, including:

Nice valance with deaf film andHollywood – next time I way to watch a long deaf film!”

“I enjoyed very much and [am] looking for more!”

“An excellent idea to create a community event”

Both films were very popular, but judging from the positive response we got regarding Ted Evans riveting film, I think we will be on the look out for more works by deaf filmmakers in the future.

Nadia Nadarajah from the Deaf Diaspora group gave an introduction to the event.

Nadia Nadarajah from the Deaf Diaspora group gave an introduction to the event.

Everybody in the audience really responded well to Ted Evans atmospheric short film, 'Retreat'

Everybody in the audience really responded well to Ted Evans atmospheric short film, ‘Retreat’

 

Last Saturday evening, we tagged our latest CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club event, with a screening of Ealing’s wonderfully dark Kind Hearts and Coronets. Again, the feedback from the event was great, including many people who admitted to never having seen the film before!

The audience settling in to watch 'Kind Hearts and Coronets'

The audience settling in to watch ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’

In honour of last weekend’s new Ealing comedy fans, we thought we would give you Filmspot’s top 5 Ealing Comedies, to get your collection started! Here goes…

5. Whisky Galore! [1949]
Alexander Mackendrick’s wonderfully subversive comedy based on the true story of the SS Politician which was wrecked in near the Hebrides.  Boats from the nearby islands soon set upon the wreck, rescuing some 7,000 cases of Scotch from a watery end! This was filmed in the same year as Kind Hearts and includes the same rather dark, biting humour.

4. Hue and Cry [1947]
The first of the post-war Ealing Comedies, Hue and Cry takes its inspiration from the children’s story, Emil and the Detectives. The story follows a group of East End children who foil a gang of robbers, and director Charles Crichton uses the chaos of the bombed streets of London after the Blitz for fascinating backdrops.

3. The Ladykillers [1955]
Perhaps the best known of the Ealing comedies (unfortunately in part to the completely unnecessary and baffling 2004 remake), The Ladykillers boasts a brilliant cast, led by the ever-charismatic Alec Guinness, and a splendidly twisted sense of humour.

2. The Man in The White Suit [1951]
Mackendrick’s deliciously cynical The Man in The White Suit appears simple on the surface, but the film gives real pause for thought. Alec Guinness is at his understated best as an idealistic young inventor who creates an indestructible, dirt-repelling fabric the threatens to overturn the entire textiles industry. Mackendrick said of the film, “Each character in the story was intended as a caricature of a separate political attitude, covering the entire range from Communist, through official Trades Unionism, Romantic Individualism, Liberalism, Enlightened and Unenlightened Capitalism to Strong-arm Reaction. Even the central character was intended as a comic picture of Disinterested Science.”

1. Kind Hearts and Coronets
Of course, Kind Hearts had to feature – this black comedy started a run of what we now see as the ‘classic’ Ealing Comedies. Remembered for Alec Guinness’s incredible performance as all eight doomed members of the D’Ascoyne family, it is Dennis Price, who plays Louis Mazzini – the murderous, yet extremely elegant lead character, who holds the film together. 

If we haven’t convinced you yet, here is the wonderful John Landis, singing its praises as only he can!

 

….We’ll be back in a week to give you full details of our August screenings!


Seaford 150: A great success!

Welcome to the weekend, Filmspotters. We are looking forward to our inaugural screening in support of the Deaf Diaspora tomorrow, details about the screening follow towards the end of this blog post.

Thank you to all of you who came out to enjoy the celebrations of 150 years of the Seaford to Brighton branch line. We were in Bishopstone station, working with the Seaford Community Cinema to show a selection of films made by pupils from the Harbour Primary School, Newhaven, along with some archive films of local, national and international significance, all based on the theme of the railway. We were kept busy with a range of visitors, of all ages, who all found something of interest in the film reel.

The station itself is a real architectural gem - and it was great to see so many people enjoying this fascinating building.

The station itself is a real architectural gem – and it was great to see so many people enjoying this fascinating building.

 

 

 

 

Here's a panoramic of some of our visitors enjoying the film reel.

Here’s a panoramic of some of our visitors enjoying the film reel.

 

…and here is the special visitor, down specially for the occasion!

…and here is the special visitor, down specially for the occasion!

 

…everybody gave our visitor a warm welcome, it felt just like we were in 'The Railway Children'!

…everybody gave our visitor a warm welcome, it felt just like we were in ‘The Railway Children’!

 

Our thanks and congratulations to the Sussex Community Rail Partnership who worked so hard and made the day a great success. Also, we would like to thank our new friends at Seaford Community Cinema. It was great to work with them, and we can’t wait to go to some of their screenings next season!

Our Inaugural Deaf Community Cinema Screening

We are very excited about our screening tomorrow: Saturday 21 June, 7.30pm (doors 7pm) at Claremont Hall (WI), Brooklyn Road, Seaford

We will be screening a short film entitled Retreat by deaf film director, Ted Evans, followed by Alfonso Cuaron’s exhilarating sic-fi survival story, Gravity, shown with audio descriptive subtitles for the hard of hearing.

Here’s the teaser for the very atmospheric Retreat:

There are still tickets available: Tickets cost £6 adults, £4 children (12+); £18 family ticket (2 adults, 2 children aged 12+.

Advance booking essential, from Nadia Nadarajah: deafdiaspora@gmail.com

….Kind Hearts and Coronets at the CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club

And finally, a reminder about our upcoming screening of the deliciously dark Ealing Comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets, which we are looking forward to presenting on Saturday 28 June, 7.30pm (doors 7pm). 

Tickets cost £5 in advance (£6 on the door), and an be booked by contacting  info@lja.uk.com or 01273 328683.

Look out next week for some of Filmspot’s favourite Ealing moments!

 

 


A successful start to our 2014 season – and June screenings

Hi Filmspotters,

We have been a little bit quiet the past couple of months, because we have been working on a new website, and booking in some great events for our upcoming season!

Firstly, let’s have a quick look back at 2014 so far…

Launch of the Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club

During March, we launched our pop-up cinema club with the CMPCA in Brighton, with a sell-out screening of Billy Wilder’s fantastic Sunset Boulevard in St Michael’s Church Hall, Brighton. 

he audience settling in for 'Sunset Boulevard' at St Michael's Church Hall

The audience settling in for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ at St Michael’s Church Hall

The film received a great reception from the audience, and the CMPCA did a fantastic job catering for everybody who came along to the screening, with delicious pizzas and salads! There was a very festive atmosphere, and we are now looking forward to our next event with this friendly, lively community group, in June (details follow below).

Museums at Night: Newhaven Fort

We took part in a fun evening at Newhaven Fort earlier in May, to promote our upcoming WWI Commemorative Weekend. In August we shall be screening Wings and All Quiet on the Western Front at the Fort. Details will follow in a future blog post. For the Museums at Night event, we screened trailers for the two films in the entrance to the Fort, and were on hand to talk to visitors about the events we have run at the Fort over the past five years.

Steve from Newhaven Fort, at our trailer screening for Museums at Night.

Steve from Newhaven Fort, at our trailer screening for Museums at Night.

Elderflower Fields Festival

Over the bank holiday weekend, Filmspot had a great time at Elderflower Field Festival, in Ashdown Forest. We screened two films at this family festival: The Croods and Project Wild Thing. The screenings were very popular – with over 100 people settling down in the cinema tent!

Audience in the cinema tent at Elderflower Fields

Audience in the cinema tent at Elderflower Fields

Upcoming screenings…

We have three exciting events coming up in June.

On Saturday 7 June we are working in association with Sussex Community Rail Partnership and Seaford Cinema to take part in the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the Seaford to Brighton train line. We will be at Bishopstone Station 10am – 4pm.

Filmspot will be presenting local and well-known travel-related film in the atmospheric Art Deco Grade II Listed station building. Films will include charming advertisements created by children from Newhaven Harbour Primary School. As part of the celebrations, there will be events running at various locations along the Seaford to Brighton line. See the Sussex Community Rail Partnership website for details.

On Saturday 21 June, we are delighted to be working with the Sussex Deaf Community for this inaugural Deaf Community Cinema Night in Seaford. It will start at 7.30pm at Claremont Hall, Brooklyn Road, Seaford.

For this event, we are presenting ‘Retreat’, the riveting short film by deaf filmmaker, Ted Evans, followed by a screening of award-winning sci-fi blockbuster, ‘Gravity’. Both films will be presented for the deaf and hard of hearing, with subtitles – however the event is open to all.

Tickets cost £6 adults; £4 children (12+); £18 family tickets (2 adults, 2 children aged 12+).

To book, please contact Nadia Nadarajah at deafdiaspora@gmail.com

On Saturday 28 June, we are continuing our series of screenings for the Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club, with a screening of one of the most acclaimed, and darkest, of the iconic Ealing Comedies, ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’. The event is at St Michael’s Hall, Brighton, Doors open at 7 for 7.30pm start.

Set in 1900, Louis Mazzini (Denis Price) is a descendant of the aristocratic D’Ascoyne family. His mother was disowned by the family for marrying an Italian singer. After his mother’s death, Louis hatches a plan to murder all the D’Ascoynes standing between him and the cherished family dukedom. The film features an astonishing turn by Alec Guinness, who portrays eight different members of the D’Ascoyne family.

Tickets cost £5 in advance, by emailing info@lja.uk.com or telephoning 01273 328683.

We will be posting up features about all three events throughout the month, so be sure to check back on the blog soon!


‘Sunset Boulevard': change of date

Hello again Filmspotters!

A quick post today, to let you all know that due to circumstances out of our control, we have had to change the date of our upcoming ‘Sunset Boulevard’ screening. It will now take place on Saturday 29 March – the same time (7 for 7.30pm), same place (St Michael’s Community Hall, Brighton). The menu has also changed – we shall now be offering delicious pizzas to pre-order (including a vegetarian option).

As mentioned in our previous post, advance booking is strongly recommended to avoid disappointment. Tickets are £5 advance from info@lja.uk.com or 01273 328683, or £6 on the door. The homemade pizzas are available to be booked in advance only, priced £3.50 – please indicate if you would like to purchase this when booking tickets.

Hopefully, as it is now on Saturday, more of you will be able to come along!

As a reward for your patience, here’s the full trailer for the film:

The rest of our programme is  coming together, and plans include a new initiative for a deaf group where we shall be showing last year’s blockbuster ‘Gravity’, with audio described subtitles at a Seaford venue; a day of community films to celebrate 150 years of the Seaford – Brighton train line; a weekend of World War I films for Newhaven Fort in August; and our second visit to Salisbury Museum where we shall screen films inspired by their Cecil Beaton exhibition. 

We’re looking forward to seeing you at one of our events soon!


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