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!

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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

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!

 

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!