Russian Fairytales: The Animation Edition

Friday’s festive screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ went with a real swing – thank you to everybody who came along.

…but there’s no time to waste, it’s focus forward to our next event: Sing Russian! Earlier this summer Opera Coast approached us to create some animated projections to accompany two concerts of arias and pieces from Russian operas – one concert in Brighton and one in London. We have been beavering away ever since, creating pen and ink drawings of backdrops to create a projected ‘stage set’ for each piece in the performance. We hope you can join us at one of the concerts. Details follow at the end of this blog.

Photographs and clips will be available after the first performance, but in the meantime you might be interested to see some of the fabulous Russian fairytale animations we have come across during our research.

The Snowmaiden (2006)

Fairytales should be, in my humble opinion, 1 part magic, 1 part romance and 2 parts horror! This rather delightful 30 minute stop motion animation adheres to that formula – just check out the wood goblin… *shudders*

Rusalochka (The Little Mermaid) (1968)

An intriguingly stylised combination of hand painted cel animation and cut outs, ‘Rusalochka’ sticks somewhat more faithfully to Hans Christian Anderson’s original tale than the 1989 Disney version. Bold, experimental and beautiful to behold, this is definitely worth a watch.

The Ball of Yarn (1968)

Something about the uncanny nature of stop motion animation gives many stop motion short films a strange atmosphere, but the story of this short also adds in to that strangeness – it is about a ball of yarn, and a knitting hobby which quickly escalates and becomes something altogether more sinister.

Nalim Malinych (2015)

This imaginative mixture of styles and techniques tells a delightful tale inspired by the works of Stepan Pissakhov, famous painter, writer and storyteller in the tradition of North Russia.

Hedgehog in The Fog (1975)

This charming short film is probably the first Russian animation I ever saw. Master animator and storyteller Yuriy Norshteyn weaves a tale that is so enchanting it completely transports you. If you only settle down to watch one film from this list: get yourself and cup of tea, relax and enjoy this atmospheric little tale.

Hopefully that little taster has whet your appetite for some Russian fairy tales and folklore. If so, be sure to come along to ‘The Old Tales of Kitezh Grad’ – to book tickets, at Unitarian Church, Brighton: Saturday 10 December, 7.30pm, click here or Pushkin House, London: Friday 16 December, 7.30pm, click here.

Full details of the project are on our website


Stairway to Heaven: A Matter of Powell and Pressburger

We’re getting very excited about our screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ this Friday at St Michael’s Church, Brighton. If you haven’t already booked, be sure to do so – due the limited space, we often sell out at this venue, and this festive occasion looks like it will be no exception! Full details to book follow at the end of this post.

Its no secret that we’re huge Powell & Pressburger fans here at Filmspot, so we thought in preparation for ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, we’d provide a ‘beginner’s Guide’ of sorts with a taste of a few of The Archers’ greatest hits!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

This profoundly moving film is a portrait of a man who would on first glance be just a stuff British caricature (in fact, it was based on a satirical comic strip character created by David Low), but is in fact a true gentleman – and one of the most unexpectedly lovable characters in cinema.

Canterbury Tale (1944)

Both eerie and beautiful, this strange tale is one of Powell and Pressburger’s most intriguing films. The bucolic side of England is at the heart of this film, with some wonderful little vignettes of rural life, such as the small boy in the clip above.

I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)

A swooning love story – this is surely one of the very best British romantic films. Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey both give wonderful performances, while the rich cinematography really captures the essence of the Scottish Isles.


Black Narcissus (1947)

This is (with the exception of Powell’s solo work ‘Peeping Tom’) the most terrifying work by The Archers – and there are many instances of unexpected horror throughout their filmography. Kathleen Byron has a truly ghostly presence as a nun whose delusions and lust for the local British agent, Mr Dean, drive her insane; whilst Deborah Kerr’s conflicted Sister Superior attempts to ignore her own attraction to Mr Dean, and to forget her past life in Ireland. Stunning use of colour, and a ‘prince and the pauper’ subplot make this multi layered tale one of Powell and Pressburger’s most memorable films.

The Red Shoes (1948)

Arguably the most famous of Powell and Pressburger’s films, The Red Shoes almost needs no introduction. It is, in our opinion, the greatest ballet film of all time, with a fantastic cast of memorable characters (many of whom were professional dancers), stunning technicolour cinematography from Jack Cardiff and sweeping, tragic romance. If you haven’t seen this film: go and see it!

…but of course, before you dash out to pick up copies of all the films above – don’t forget to book your tickets to ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ at St Michael’s Church Hall, Brighton

Friday 2 December, doors open 7pm, for screening at 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 including a festive drink and seasonal snacks

Advance booking essential, there will not be tickets available at the door!
Tickets available from eventbrite – or by emailing info@lja.uk.com 


Cosy and Chilling Gothic Tales from the South…

As the evenings draw in, and Hallowe’en is looming, we’re looking forward to our delightfully atmospheric (and ever so slightly sinister) screening of Charles Laughton’s ‘The Night of the Hunter’, this Saturday at St Michael’s Community Hall, in Brighton. Details of the screening can be found on our website. Be sure to pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment – they are going like hot cakes, and there is limited capacity in the venue.

Thinking about this Southern Gothic classic has got us in the mood for more in a similar vein, so we thought we’d take a look at some other choice films from the genre – something to cosy down to, with a cup of tea, this Autumn….

Wise Blood (1979)

John Huston’s adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name is an odd little film. Following the conflicted Hazel Motes (played by Brad Dourif with his signature strangeness), a young war veteran and founder and preacher of the ‘Church of Truth Without Christ’, the film affectionately takes in all manner of eccentric characters and misfits, and doesn’t miss a beat.

Sparrows (1926)

The Southern thriller, ‘Sparrows’ is classic Mary Pickford, who was easily the most powerful woman in Hollywood when she starred in and produced this film. Pickford plays Molly, an adolescent inmate living at a horrific ‘baby farm’. She looks after the children who are being held there, and plots their escape…

Down by Law (1986)

Mrs Filmspot has an enormous soft spot for Tom Waits… Mr Filmspot is less sure. One thing they both agree on, though, is this original and charming comedy by Jim Jarmusch. The slow-moving, simple camera work captures the landscape of the Louisiana Bayou beautifully, and the wisecracking camaraderie of the three principal actors (Waits, John Lurie and the ever-delightful Roberto Benigni) makes this essential viewing.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

A key element in many Southern Gothic films is the idea of children and their innocence. This adaptation of Harper Lee’s masterly novel is a great partner to ‘Night of the Hunter’, in that, like in Laughton’s film, it illustrates how children can ‘abide and endure’, dealing with circumstances beyond their control.

Mud (2013)

Another film looking at an adult world from the perspective of a child, ‘Mud’ is the most recent entry on this list. Said to be inspired by the work of Mark Twain, writer-director Jeff Nichols has created a modern fairytale, which also harkens back to nostalgic ‘adventure’ films of the 1980s. Matthew McConaughey’s escaped convict is a rather perfect flawed hero. One of our favourite films to come out of the US in the past 5 years.

…All the above are fantastic films, of course… however,’The Night of the Hunter’ is surely one of the finest Southern Gothic films. We hope to see you at St Michael’s this Saturday. Wrap up warm, as the film is a bit of a chiller!

ALSO! Don’t miss our next Doodle Animation workshop – this Monday 24 October at Arts@theCrypt in Seaford. We shall be at the gallery 11am – 3pm, and you can contribute to our short film about Seaford. The workshop is absolutely free, so come and join us!

We had a fantastic time at Hyperdrive Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival on Saturday. The small, but perfectly formed group of animators helped create an astonishing amount of animation in just over an hour. The final film will be released on our YouTube channel shortly, so watch this space!

 


Early Sci Fi… preparing for Hyperdrive

Hello Filmspotters!

Goodness me, I’m sorry that we have abandoned the blog for so long! We felt it was time to get back on track, ahead of our exciting autumn and winter season. There are lots of exciting screenings, workshops and projects coming up – so there will be lots to write about!

First off, we’re focussing on our upcoming Workshop at next week’s Hyperdrive Sci-Fi and Fantasy Festival at Hailsham Pavilion. We’re delighted to be working with this exciting festival for the first time this year. Its a fun festival where you can see what’s new from some of the fantastic up and coming talent in the world of sci-fi and fantasy film. International filmmakers will be showing off their latest productions, while raising money for two great charities: Demelza House Children’s Hospice and Smokey Paws.

At the festival, we’re running a workshop entitled La Doodle Dans La Lune – creating a ‘reimagined’ version of George Méliès’s innovative silent science fiction from 1902. Full details can be found on our website. In honour of this, we thought we’d re-launch the blog with five early sci-fi picks!

5. The Lost World (1925)

Based on the Arthur Conan Doyle book of the same name, ‘The Lost World’ is an extremely watchable and fun silent film. The stop motion animation by Willis O’Brien was a great influence on Ray Harryhausen, a hero of all here at Filmspot HQ! You can see the film is what is thought of as its most complete form at the above YouTube link, so put the kettle on and settle down for a treat.

4. Paris Qui Dort (1925)

An early comedy/ sci-fi crossover, the plot involves a mad scientist ‘freezing’ citizens of Paris with a magical ray. Rene Clair’s first film as Director, this charming tale is possibly the first time a film explored the premise of ‘what would you do if everything was frozen apart from you?’

3. 20,000 leagues under the sea (1916)

Thought to be the first feature length sci-fi film, Stuart Paton’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel was renowned for its very early underwater photography, which was shot by the pioneering Williamson Brothers. The entire film is on YouTube, but the quality is not great.

2. Metropolis (1927)

When somebody mentioned ‘silent sci-fi’, I think ‘Metropolis’ is the first film that would spring to most people’s minds – and with good reason. Reconstructed and restored in recent years, if you haven’t seen the most recent and most extensive cut of this film, I urge you to watch it. It is incredible, iconic and breathtaking.

1. La Voyage dans la Lune (1902)

Of course, we couldn’t resist rounding off our list with Georges Melies very early short. Melies is often referred to as the ‘father of sci-fi’. It is a beautifully rich and imaginative short film – and we can’t wait to see what visitors to Hailsham will create in response to it next Saturday!

Hope to see you at Hyperdrive!


Collaborating with Movel Shoes UK

Hello there Filmspotters,

We’re now putting the final prep work together for our screening dance event for Jacob Krupnick’s Girl Walk // All Day, this Friday at Alive Fitness and Natural Health in Brighton.

We are delighted that Movel Shoes are collaborating with us for this special occasion.  Movel offers a new world of active, accessible urban shoes, with clean and contemporary lines. The brand was inspired by the Brazilian spirit of movement (called “ginga” in Brazil). The name itself comes from “móvel” , meaning “mobile” in Brazilian Portuguese

Watch out for Kit, Elz and Lewis, our dance troupe at the event this Friday, who will be wearing colourful, bold, fun Movel trainers. Be sure to follow Movel on Facebook and follow them on twitter,

As part of our collaboration, Movel Shoes are offering audience members and Filmspot Mailing List members the chance to win a pair of Movel Shoes. Simply fill in a form at the event, or contact info@filmspot.org.uk to be added onto the mailing list, for your chance to win!

12809616_842119079244726_312563802610182355_n

We hope to see you on Friday at Alive Fitness. Here are the full details of the event – remember to wear your dancing shoes!

Filmspot and Alive Fitness and Natural Health present

Girl Walk // All Day

25-27 Castle Street, Brighton
Doors 7pm, 7.30pm film start

The event is standing only, with plenty of space to dance!
All profits from this event will be donated to the Hummingbird Project
Note: Parental guidance advised, as the soundtrack contains explicit lyrics.

Tickets cost £5.50. Buy tickets here


Films to make you DANCE!

Hi there Filmspotters!

We’ve been warding off the miserable February weather by getting set for our first screening of the year – our dancing cinema screening at Alive Fitness and Natural Health in Brighton. We’re screening Jacob Krupnick’s Girl Walk // All Day on Friday 4 March – full details follow at the end of this post.

To help you all get your fancy footwork together in preparation, we thought we’d compile a few of our favourite dance scenes on film – we usually have just five picks, but we couldn’t limit ourselves this time, so we’ll go a bit lighter on the waffling and let the dancers do the talking. Ready?… 5, 6, 7, 8…..!

Singin’ in the Rain

Of course, Singin’ in the Rain is one of our favourites here at Filmspot HQ, but particularly Donald O’Connor’s fantastic comedy skit ‘Make Em Laugh’

 

Rumba

Again, another Filmspot favourite – but a more recent, and rather less well known one…

 

Funny Face

Ah, Hollywood loved riffing off Beatnik culture, particularly interpretative dance (see also ‘White Christmas’ and the charmingly OTT ‘Choreography’!).

Hellzapoppin’

Wow. Just…. wow.

Fisher King

A charmingly whimsical moment from Terry Gilliam’s sentimental ‘Fisher King’ – bear in mind, this was made before all those YouTube Flash Mob videos…

 

Coming to America

The sheer speed, scale… and costumes are somewhat mind bending. Choreographed by Paula Abdul – and of course, the film was directed by John Landis (who also directed the video for Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’), so you’re in good hands.

Xanadu

….OK, this one is a bit of a wildcard. It is certainly not Gene Kelly in his prime, but for sheer weirdness, Xanadu beats all the films on this list put together. And this scene includes ELO, so it gets extra guilty pleasure points for that too!

 

So, now you’re all limbered up, here’s what you need to know about our dancing cinema – please note, it is in a dance studio, with no seating – so there will be plenty of opportunities to DANCE! 

Girl Walk // All Day at Alive Fitness and Natural Health, 25-27 Castle Street, Brighton, BN1 2HD

Friday 4 March, doors 7pm

Girl Walk // All Day, the debut-feature from Brooklyn-based director, Jacob Krupnick, is a music video of epic proportions! The film, made with the support of 577 Kickstarter backers, won a ‘Best Music Video’ award from SPIN Magazine and was an official selection at the 2012 SXSW Festival.

Dialogue-free, the film is set to All Day, the 2011 album by the mash-up DJ Girl Talk, and follows three improvisational dancers, Anne Marsen, Daisuke Omiya and John Doyle, on an urban adventure shot entirely on location in the streets and public spaces of New York City.

Tickets cost £5.50, available from Billetto or in person at Alive Fitness.

All profits from this event will be donated to the Hummingbird Project

Hope to see you all there!


Burns Night, Filmspot style!

Hello Filmspotters!

With Burns Night tomorrow, we thought we’d bring you a blog with some recommended viewing that Rabbie would approve of (maybe…) – so here’s just a few of our favourite films with a distinctly Scottish flavour…

Small Faces [1996]

Set in Glasgow in the 1960s, this coming of age drama came out around the time of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. Gorgeously shot, well written and finely acted, the film stands up well to the test of time – 20 years later, it’s well worth a revisit (or a discovery if you haven’t seen it already!)

Gregory’s Girl [1981]

Our love of Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl has been well documented on this blog before. Uplifting and rather wry in a way you wouldn’t expect from a film about teenagers set in a secondary school. It’s also now deliciously dated – in a very endearing way!

Whisky Galore [1949]

No Scottish film list would be complete without the Ealing Comedy, Whisky Galore! Focussing on a group of wily islanders in the outer Hebrides who have an unexpected windfall in the shape of 50,000 cases of whisky from the wreck on a sinking freighter – a battle of wits ensures between the island inhabitants and a stuffy English captain of the homeguard, who wants to confiscate the loot!

Under the Skin [2014]

An unexpected entry on the list, but Jonathan Glazer’s tale of an alien disguised as a woman, who preys on unexpected Scotsmen from a transit van, somehow captures Glasgow in its vibrant, rackety glory.

Red Road [2006]

Definitely not a film for the faint of heart, but Andrea Arnold’s gritty Red Road is a stark thriller that feels undeniably Scottish. Partially shot on the now demolished Red Road estate in Glasgow, the film was filmed in Dogme 95 style, using handheld cameras and natural light. Although bleak in concept and story, the film ends with a feeling of redemption.

For a bonus, just thought we had better mention Sunshine on Leith [2013], featuring the songs of the Proclaimers, Mrs Filmspot has yet to inflict this upbeat musical on Mr Filmspot.

…and so, with that all that remains is to pour yourself a wee dram and have a very cosy Burns Night!

We’ll be back later this week with a big update – and details of our first exciting Filmspot event for 2016!