PR, Films and Fantasies

Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

At the christening of a long-wished-for princess, fairies invited as godmothers offer gifts: beauty, wit, and musical talent. However, as her gift, a wicked fairy who was overlooked, places the princess under an enchantment, saying that, on reaching adulthood, she will prick her finger on the spindle of the Spinning Wheel of Death and die. However, one last fairy has yet to give her gift. She partially reverses the wicked fairy’s curse, proclaiming that the princess will instead fall into a deep sleep for 100 years.

The king forbade spinning on distaff or spindle, or the possession of one, upon pain of death, throughout the kingdom, but all in vain. When the princess was fifteen or sixteen she chanced to come upon an old woman, who was really the wicked fairy in disguise, in a tower of the castle, who was spinning. The princess asked to try the unfamiliar task and the inevitable happened. The wicked fairy’s curse was fulfilled. The good fairy returned and put everyone in the castle to sleep. A forest of briars sprang up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world: no one could try to penetrate it without facing certain death in the thorns.

After a hundred years had passed, a prince who had heard the story of the enchantment braved the wood, which parted at his approach, and entered the castle. He trembled upon seeing the princess’s beauty and fell on his knees before her. He kissed her, then she woke up, then everyone in the castle woke to continue where they had left off, and they all lived happily ever after.

A beautiful fairytale that inspired 2 films which are to be released soon:

The French version:

or the Australian version…

 

Just found the trailers of two amazing documentaries which once again focus on the amazing “behind the scenes” of the media. Their stories are completely different, one following a sex scandal from the 70s and another being placed in The NY Times’ offices in the current, ongoing and forever-lasting financial crisis. I don’t know much about the films yet but they’re surely on my “unmissable” list, not just for somehow being a media person, but also due to their exquisite filmmaking techniques. Here’s the synopsis and trailer of Tabloid by Errol Morris:

One of America’s top documentary filmmakers, Errol Morris, turns his attention to the outrageous and nearly unbelievable story of Joyce McKinney. She’s a former Miss Wyoming beauty queen who gained a great deal of notoriety after being accused of kidnapping a young Mormon missionary, restraining him in chains and raping him in England in 1977. The unbalanced McKinney is interviewed extensively, particularly about her ambition to write a memoir telling her side of the tale.

And, the second, Page One: Inside the NY Times:

Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

I found the link to this documentary last night on the FB page of my MA and I was really amazed. It’s aim is to:

Lift the lid on the world of cinema censorship, offering unique access to the files of the British Board of Film Classification. Featuring explicit and detailed exchanges between the censor and film-makers, ‘Dear Censor’ casts a wry eye over some of the most infamous cases in the history of the board.

From the now seemingly innocuous Rebel Without a Cause, the first ‘naturist’ films and the infamous works of Ken Russell, and up to Rambo III, this frank and surprisingly warm documentary demonstrates how a body created by the industry to safeguard standards and reflect shifts in public opinion has also worked unexpectedly closely with the film-makers themselves to ensure that their work was able reach an audience. (BBC)

What really got to me was not the correspondence between filmmaker and censor and the battle of the first to keep his film in one piece, to send the desired message, but the extreme shots in all the cut scenes. For exemple skip to minute 27 and watch little pieces of The Devils… I wonder  what the reaction of the viewer would’ve been if the film was left intact and allowed in public cinemas (especially in 1971!!!).

Do censors have the right to change the content of art in order to make it more “moral”? Can art be immoral? Or is it just a matter of knowledge and training of the viewer?

To my shame, I only found out about The Departure Lounge yesterday, although I’ve been in Birmingham for almost two years now. Basically, it is a film event that runs at the MAC, in Birmingham, every two months, and it presents productions by British filmmakers.

With many UK films not able to secure distribution, let alone a screening in a cinema, the Departure Lounge fills that very real need for both film maker and audience – providing a showing on the big screen, and giving the audience the opportunity to fire questions at the director, writer and/or producer.

So, tonight I went to the lovely MAC cinema for the first time and watched EDGE, Carol Morley’s debut feature film… To be honest, I really didn’t have a lot of time to research either the production or the cast and crew, but in the end I kind of wanted to be surprised… and I was!

Strange encounters at the Cliff Edge Hotel- where death is never far away. (via Edge Facebook Page)

I expected a typical dark, tragic, sad story (due to the title and the still on the MAC website), but the film was actually incredibly optimistic and most of all full of life. You’d probably think I’ve gone a bit mad if you’d see the first scenes and feel the suicidal and macabre atmosphere, but from the first minute you realise there has to be a lot more than this. In terms of story, here is a brief, teasing synopsis from their website:

Washed-up pop star (PAUL HILTON) arrives at the Cliff Edge Hotel looking for inspiration and meets a guilt-ridden woman (MAXINE PEAKE), who is desperate to recover her past. An older woman (MARJORIE YATES) checks into a room with dark intent, but encounters a chambermaid (ANIA WENDZIKOWSKA) who refuses to leave her alone. A blind date set up on the Internet between two teenagers (JOE DEMPSIE, NICHOLA BURLEY) fails to turn out like either of them expected. Over the course of two days and one night the hotel guests, frozen into the snowy landscape, begin to thaw – and to find a purpose that connects them all.

The plot, however, is not the main character here, and to be honest I couldn’t possibly say what was more captivating: story, location, cinematography, performance (AMAZING!) or even the un-welcomed guest – the snow who became part of the cast from the first second (director and producer confessed that it was definitely not in the script or even in their wildest dreams, as it hadn’t snowed there in 40 years!). The entire film is based around and in a hotel on the edge of beautiful and frightening limescale cliffs (still don’t know where exactly they are) and all the outdoor shots are breathtaking! The most intriguing thing is that although the water and the 20m (or more?) high and steep shore can look terrifying in the winter light, I never felt the fear due to the beautifully crafted relationship between the characters.

Anyway, the last thing I’m telling you is that both the colourful Carol Morley who directed the film and the professional Cairo Cannon who was the producer, were absolutely charming tonight and answered our questions with so much enthusiasm! I am really happy I managed to get to the event as not only I enjoyed a wonderful production, but learned so much from the two women who did a wonderful job with such a micro-budget! It’s worth mentioning that it was on the official list of the BFI last year!

Edge will be screening around the UK soon… check the website to get your tickets!

Last night I went to the amazing opening event of Flatpack 2011. In case you never heard of it, the best way to describe it is in The Guardian’s words:

“Mixing film, music and performance, this eclectic festival elicits intriguing collaborations from those working at the fringes.” – Guardian Guide

If you find yourself in Birmingham over the next 4 days, do make some time to check some of the amazing features on this year’s list. From screenings to workshops and all kinds of visual arts, you will definitely enjoy the creativity behind the curating of this great event. And if you want to try something completely out of the box, just jump on this:

The Vintage Mobile Cinema 🙂

More details about the program, events and any other information on the website: http://www.flatpackfestival.org/home/ or follow them on Twitter @flatpack.

 

This weekend I was part of the organising team of this:

Basically it was a two days event put together by the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research which is based at Birmingham City University (my university). Friday was open to professionals and academics from the film and archive industry as it presented the results of some amazing projects financed by Screen West Midlands. They bring together old footage in an attempt to save it from deteriorating (turning film into digital is definitely a huge step in preserving old footage) and making it easier to access and use in new productions. http://www.wevee.co.uk/ is one of the websites which you might find really fun and interesting to use and you could make your own films with a few drag and drops. Also, http://pebblemill.org/ or http://birminghammusicarchive.co.uk/ and http://philipdonnellan.posterous.com/ summarize all the other projects which are dedicated to certain areas of filmmaking in the West Midlands.

Saturday was open to the public and we watched some really amazing films, short films and documentaries. I really recommend all of them, if you can find them:

‘A Touch of Eastern Promise’ was the first British drama with an Asian cast.  Filmed in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, it tells the story of a young Indian boy who dreams about meeting his favourite Bollywood film star when she visits Birmingham. BBC 1973. Written by Tara Prem, dir Michael Lindsay-Hogg, prod David Rose.

‘A Box of Swan’ follows John (Adrian Dunbar) as he returns to his home city for his father’s funeral.  This short play also stars Pete Postlethwaite and Hilary Sesta. It was recorded on location in Bearwood and in studio at Pebble Mill. BBC 2, 1990. Written by Alan David Price, dir Diana Patrick, prod Phillippa Giles & Vicky Licorish.

‘Fellow Traveller’ is the only TV film made at BBC Pebble Mill.  Set in the McCarthy era it tells the story of a black listed U.S. writer forced to work in Britain.  It stars Ron Silver and Imogen Stubbs.  BBC 2, 1991. Written by Michael Eaton, dir Philip Saville, prod Michael Wearing.

‘Joe the Chainsmith’ (BBC 1958) was documentary pioneer Philip Donnellan’s first film for television. It is a portrait of Cradley Heath in Staffordshire – then known for the traditional craft of chain-making – and one of the pillars of that community and that craft, Joe Mallen (1890-1975). Directed, Produced & Written by Philip Donnellan.

An Insight into the ‘Making of Joe the Chainsmith’ (2006) is a short film which looks at the making of Philip Donnellan’s classic social document of Black Country life, including interviews with the last remaining participants in the original film. Directed and produced by Harry Bloomer and Warren MacCabe-Smith for 7 Inch Cinema’s Landmarks project.

“A Story of Cradley Heath” (2010) is a documentary by Warren MacCabe-Smith and Harry Bloomer, which captures a town in transition, with new shops and access roads replacing old landmarks. Nonetheless the vitality and community spirit of Cradley Heath lives on, as testified by the lively interviews featured within the film. Directed and Produced by Warren MacCabe-Smith and Harry Bloomer (Cradley Heath Film).

“Made in Birmingham (2010): Reggae, Punk and Bhangra” musicians from the city of Birmingham discuss their distinctive musical styles and reflect on how music has played its own role in fostering a new sense of collective identity in the city. (Directed by Deb Ashton)


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