A wealth of offbeat and surprising films from New Zealand

We are so looking forward to our annual visit to Isfield Community Enterprise Field this coming Saturday. It’s our first of two screenings as part of Scalarama Festival, and we have a sort of mini-festival within a festival planned for the marquee this year! We start with three fantastic short films by British filmmakers, ‘Infinite’ by Lowkey Films, ‘Next’ by animator Barry Purves and ‘The Cutter’ by Carl Prechezer. We will then cosy down to watch Taika Waititi’s ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. The evening costs just £5, payable at the door – it is a marquee screening, so do bring blankets and cushions – whatever you need to feel extra cosy and comfortable!

In preparation for this fabulous film, we have been thinking about some other great films from New Zealand. Here are just a few picks:

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

The first of two Peter Jackson films on this list. After gaining a cult following a couple of intensely graphic splatter-fests, Peter Jackson took critics and audiences alike by surprise with this stylish and fascinating thriller, with a fascinating study of the obsessive nature of teenage female friendships (here, taken to the extreme) at its centre.

The Whale Rider (2002)

An inspiring story of a young Maori girl, who’s ambition is to become take up the traditionally male role of chief of her tribe. On release, the 13 year old star, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest person to be nominated for the best actress academy award – well deserved, because her outstanding performance really carries the film!

An Angel At My Table (1990)

Jane Campion is possibly better known for ‘The Piano’, which should of course feature on this list, but I’ve opted for her adaptation of author Janet Frame’s autobiography. Beautifully shot, with a lightness of touch, the film takes its paint a portrait of Frame’s complex character.

Forgotten Silver (1995)

I don’t usually include two films by the same director, but I couldn’t resist – this is quite possibly my favourite Peter Jackson film, a fascinating mockumentary about ‘forgotten’ New Zealand film pioneer, Colin McKenzie. The beautifully shot ‘early’ film footage and colourful details of McKenzie’s life were all created by Peter Jackson, and betray a deep and obsessive love of cinema.

Boy (2010)

Finally, a film by Taika Waititi, Director of ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. Similar in some ways to our headliner next week, ‘Boy’ is a charmingly offbeat comedy/ drama set in 1984. A coming-of-age tale seen through the eyes of a Michael Jackson-obsessed child named Boy.

…so that’s it for a warm up. We hope to see you in the Marquee in the ICE Field (behind the Laughing Fish Pub) next Saturday night!

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Scalarama: Brighton & Beyond 2017!

Hi Filmspotters!

I can’t believe how long it has been since my last blog… suddenly here we are in September – and September can only mean one thing: Scalarama!

We love taking part in this fantastic DIY festival of cinema. Filmspot have been involved for the past 4 years. This year, the festival has been renamed ‘Scalarama Brighton & Beyond’ – and we’re delighted to be running two screenings in the ‘Beyond’ category – one in Isfield, and another in Seaford. Details follow below, but we thought we’d have a glance through the whole programme – here’s the trailer!

Scalarama Brighton and Beyond Trailer 2017 from Filmspot on Vimeo.

Exciting stuff, huh? Well, we’re five days in already, so sadly I’m too late to urge you to see ‘Lost Highway’ on 35mm at the Duke of Yorks, ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ at Seaford Community Cinema or the haunting ‘Mortido’ at Diva Coffee Shop (the latter two were both sell outs!)… HOWEVER, there is still time to see one (or all?) of the screenings in the Luxbry at BomBane’s ‘Spirit of 77’ series, which kicks off this Wednesday with Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, then continues with screenings every Wednesday through September with classics such as ‘The Great Rock n Roll Swindle’, ‘Sid and Nancy’ and ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ (if you haven’t been to BomBanes before, now is a good excuse to go – it’s a totally charming little gem of a place!). There’s also a screening of the documentary, ‘The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead’ at the Caroline of Brunswick.

There are a couple of ‘festivals with the festival’ – with Heritage Open Days this weekend, there are some great tours of the Duke of Yorks, as well as a tour of Brighton’s lost cinemas; and the Women Over Fifty Film Festival kicks off next week, with a screening of ‘Mama Mia!’ on 14 September, followed by a full weekend of short films directed by, written by or starring women over 50.

Shorts and experimental film feature prominently in the programme too, with Short Circuit screening unique and compelling short docs at the Nightingale Room, and Open Colour screening Isiah Medina’s acclaimed experimental film ’88:88′.

Our friends at Rain Goggles are screening the underground cult classic ‘Singapore Sling’, and The Old Market’s Film Club are screening two great features directed by women: Anna Biller’s ‘The Love Witch’ and Elaine May’s ‘A New Leaf’. Fabrica’s Fresh Perspectives group are organising a screening of underground coming-of-age classic, ‘Deep End’.

Silent film is another intriguing thread in the festival this year – as well as our screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ at the end of the month, Fabrica are screening the new silent, ‘London Symphony’, and the Duke of Yorks are celebrating their 107th birthday in style, with a live scored showing of ‘Metropolis’.

…and there are still some great screenings planned for the ‘Beyond’ arm – Seaford Community Cinema are launching their new programme with a screening of ‘Atonement’ on 15 September and there’s classic B-movie action with ‘Journey to the Seventh Plant’ at the Electric Palace in Hastings on 24 September.

A very special fundraiser screening of ‘Car Wash’ will run at the new Depot cinema in Lewes on Sunday 17 September, in support of Zest – a charity which supports and trains adults with learning disabilities and autism. The screening will launch a new documentary about the project, and there will be an afternoon of celebrations, including the chance to see two classic American cars on the Depot forecourt. The cinema are inviting attendees to join in the fun and wear 1970s dress!

Phew – what a month! Full listings can be found on the Scalarama website

…but of course, we can’t forget our own screenings!

16 September: The Hunt for the Wilderpeople and British short films in the ICE Field

Wilderpeople_Ricky.0.0

We’re so pleased to bring a mini film festival to the ICE Marquee in Isfield. We are screening three fantastic short films by British Filmmakers: ‘Infinite’ by Lowkey Films, ‘Next’ by Barry Purves and ‘The Cutter’ by Carl Prechezer. These will be followed by the feature film, ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ – a quirky, big hearted charmer – this mismatched buddy movie follows a troubled orphan, and his grizzled foster ‘uncle’ as they go on the run across the New Zealand wilderness, pursued by the authorities. A hit with critics and audiences alike, this promises to be a fun family screening.

Tickets cost £5, at the door. The ICE Field is located in the Infield Community Enterprise Field, behind the Laughing Fish Pub!

29 September: A Cottage on Dartmoor comes to Seaford Little Theatre

cottage_on_dart_1‘Out Hitchcocks Hitchcock!’

We are bringing ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’, with our specially commissioned live score written and performed by Joss Peach to the charming Little Theatre in Seaford.

A simple tale, but beautifully told, ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ tells of assistant barber Joe, who is in love with Sally, a manicurist. His jealous reaction when Sally rejects him in favour of another leads to terrible consequences. This is, however, not a clean-cut ‘good vs. evil’ picture: the film has layers of both ambiguity and suspense. While touching on the themes of loneliness, lust and mental illness, ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ is ultimately about both the joys and savagery of love.

Tickets can be bought online from Eventbrite or in person at the Seaford Tourist Information Centre.

… September is going to be a busy month! Hope to see you at one of our screenings soon!

Anthony Asquith ‘greatest hits’

We’re greatly looking forward to our screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ tonight with composer-pianist, Joss Peach, at Fabrica in Brighton. As part of the preparations, we’ve been looking into the back catalogue of Director Anthony Asquith.

Asquith is noted for his family connections as much as for his filmography, because he was the son of the then-Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, and is the great-uncle of Helena Bonham Carter. He entered the film industry partly to escape his high profile family background and, although often belittled because of his aristocratic lineage, he was incredibly gifted. We’ve picked out a few of his finest…

Shooting Stars (1928)

A satire of the film industry, Asquith’s first film recently had the VIP treatment, with a new restoration from the BFI in 2015. It is sophisticated in its storytelling: a love triangle, with a treacherous British starlet, who gives the title of the film a clever double meaning.

Underground (1928)

This working-class romance is like a little time capsule of 1920s London. It was only Asquith’s second film (‘Shooting Stars’ was officially credited to A.V. Bramble), but you can see the gentle humour and warmth towards his subjects that also comes through in ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’, giving away his staunch socialist values.

Pygmalion (1938)

After the silent era, Asquith’s career declined slightly until in the late 1930s, he was involved in a number of screen adaptations of films. This, based on the play of the same name by George Bernard Shaw, staring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard, is delightful.

The Browning version (1951)

The first film adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s play, Asquith’s version stars Michael Redgrave in one of the finest performances of his career, as the generally despised, but inwardly vulnerable classics teacher, ‘The Crock’, Andrew Crocker-Harris.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

Asquith’s faithful adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” was his first colour film, and he approached it with a characteristic understated approach – rather than being full of bold, glitzy bright colours, the film has a largely pastel palette. The breathtaking costumes designed by Cecil Beaton are also worth a mention here, and of course, Edith Evan, who absolutely made the character of Lady Bracknell her own!

As a bonus (for local interest) we recently found this little gem, also directed by Asquith – ‘On Such a Night’ – a semi-documentary film about a visit to the Glyndebourne opera! Here’s the trailer:

Hopefully we’ll see you tonight at Fabrica – for full details, and to book, please visit Eventbrite

After this, we have the launch of the Bookshop Screening Room at Waterstones Brighton next Thursday, 9 February – tickets have already sold out, but details of future screenings and a full report will be posted shortly.

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

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!

 

Looking back at a busy Autumn – and a busy December!

Greetings Filmspotters!

Sorry for the silence. We’ve had a busy few months since the last post (all the way back in Autumn!). We’ve been busy with screenings and workshops across Sussex!

In September, we were delighted to revisit the ICE Field in Isfield, where we ran a fun stop motion workshop at their Arts & Crafts market, creating a short film called ‘Fish’, with the help of some young animators. We screened the rough cut of the film at our marquee screening of Spielberg’s classic, ‘Jaws’ that evening. The final edit of the film is being tweaked at the moment, but will be live on our YouTube channel by the end of the year. Keep your eyes on our blog for updates.

Preparations for our 'Fish' workshop in Isfield - the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

Preparations for our ‘Fish’ workshop in Isfield – the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

This year we took part in Scalarama during September, with a presentation of ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ at Fabrica, with a stunning live semi-improved score by Partial Facsimile. The screening was a total sell-out, and there was a fantastic atmosphere!

We had a short break until the mid-October, when we ran an exciting ‘Big Draw’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford. We used cut out animation to recreate, with the help of local children and families, Halas & Batchelor’s short animation, ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’. The final film is in the editing studio at the moment, but expect to see it on our YouTube channel by the end of December. We are also planning a screening of ‘Animal Farm’, with introduction by Vivien Halas, in the gallery in 2016. Once the date is confirmed, details will be posted here and on the Filmspot website.

Participants creating their 'cut out puppets' for our Big Draw 'Owl and the Pussycat' workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants creating their ‘cut out puppets’ for our Big Draw ‘Owl and the Pussycat’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our 'Big Draw' event.

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our ‘Big Draw’ event.

We are continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, our most recent event in October, with a screening of ‘Animal Farm’ introduced by Vivien Halas, who gave a fascinating insight into her parents’ work.

This December, we have two events to round-off a very successful 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club present

An American in Paris

Friday 4 December, doors 6.45pm
Tickets £7, advance booking essential
Email info@lja.uk.com or telephone 01273 328683 for tickets
Tickets include a glass of mulled wine

Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris is one of the most elegant, colourful and fun of the MGM musicals from the 1950s, it features Gene Kelly as a cheerful ex-GI, called Jerry Mulligan, struggling as a penniless  artist in Paris. His world is turned upside down when he meets the enchanting Lise Bouvier, played by a young Leslie Caron in her screen debut, and at the same time attracts the attention of a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just his paintings!

Featuring classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and some of the most decadent choreography routines on film, this promises to be a fun evening: served up with the usual Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club festive cheer!
Here’s the trailer:

Isfield Village Hall and Filmspot present

Paddington and White Christmas

Saturday 12 December at Isfield Village Hall
Paddington 2.45pm; White Christmas 6.45pm
Tickets £6 per film (£12 for family of four
– 1 child free with each paying adult
Email info@isfieldvillagehall.org.uk to book
We are delighted to be presenting a family matinee screening of favourite bear, Paddington, in this recent motion picture adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved books. Featuring an all-star cast, and state of the art animation, this delightful film will appeal to all ages.
In the evening, join us for a real festive classic – White Christmas. Featuring Irving Berlin’s unforgettable music, as well as splendid musical routines from the four stars – Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, nothing could be better for getting you in the mood for Christmas!
Here are the trailers for both films!:

We hope to see you at one of our events in December – and also wish you a very merry Christmas!

Late summer season

Hello Filmspotters!

A quick update, as it’s been a while! We’ve been keeping busy here at Filmspot HQ – planning for our upcoming late summer season, which is all happening over the next couple of weeks. Listings of all our upcoming screenings follows at the end of this post.

On 22 August, we’re continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, with Wes Anderson’s delightful ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. Here’s the trailer:

Due to this upcoming screening, and being at the height of the school holiday period, we have been thinking about camping in films! Here are some of our favourites:

Nuts in May [1975]

Ah, Nuts in May – I’m sure we have mentioned this elsewhere on the blog, but this is certainly a favourite here at Filmspot HQ. Surely everybody knows of someone (or a couple) as irritating and odd as Keith and Candice Marie? Before any camping trip, it’s always worth warming up with a couple of verses of the Zoo Song. Mike Leigh has a lot to answer for…

Blair Witch Project [1999]

It’s difficult to fathom now, after seeing so many copy-cat ‘found footage’ horror films and spoofs, but this was once a startlingly good, and frightening, film. Definitely not one to revisit before a woodland camping trip!

Stand By Me [1986]

This classic 80s coming of age film perfectly captures the atmosphere of almost never-ending summer holidays – very like the Italian thriller, ‘Io non ho Paura’ (not about camping, but also definitely worth a watch).

 

Familia Rodante [2004]

This is sort of the Argentinian version of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. This film makes you wonder how you would get on with 12 members of your family, travelling 1000km in a beaten-up camper van?

Sightseers [2012]

Ben Wheatley’s ingenious comedy horror definitely channels ‘Nuts in May’ – but somehow he takes the ‘irritating know-all happy campers’ characters to the next level.

…so now you’re in the mood for a camping trip? Possibly not! Well, why not join us as Isfield VIllage Hall on Saturday instead, for a very good movie? Tickets for Moonrise Kingdom cost £6 each on the door, with the event starting 6.45pm for 7.30 film start. Drinks and nibbles are being provided by Isfield Village Hall.

Our other upcoming Late Summer screenings and events:

5 September: JAWS in the Isfield ICE Field (with animation workshops taking place throughout the day)

10 September: DAS CABINET DES DR CALIGARI with LIVE SCORE from Partial Facsimile at Fabrica Brighton

Full details are on our website.

We hope to see you soon!