I don’t like 3D. I don’t want my vision to be dictated by it. As you would be able to tell from the other posts on this site, I love a good auteur. Someone who can craft a film and ultimately stamp it with their own creative edge. However, as much as they might try they can never completely control the viewing experience. A lot of how I interpret a film will always be down to me as a spectator and 3D takes an element of this away from me. During a 3D film I often feel under attack. Bombarded by the images stretching out to me from the screen. I am forced to concentrate on the image most in the foreground. Viewing the frame as a whole is impossible, believe me I’ve tried! It’s why I come out of a 3D film with such an almighty headache; my brain has been trying to force my eyeballs to focus on five different moving images at once. But that’s not the only reason 3D films give me a headache…
I went to see Paranorman recently, a fun film of which I had little to complain about really. Other than one thing. I was lucky enough to see a screening in 2D, however when the film (which I had thoroughly enjoyed up to that point) reached its inevitable action-packed climatic battle between good and evil, I suddenly felt like I was in the wrong screen. I was no longer in escapism mode captured right in the heart of the action. I was watching a scene being shown in 2D which had clearly been created for a 3D audience. Yes, the camera moves and general design were a giveaway but that alone wasn’t what was bothering me. I was bored. I was watching a scene which seemed to go on for far too long. Knowing that, what for the 3D spectator would have been a fast-paced action sequence with an OTT 3D filled crescendo was for a 2D audience just a lot of unnecessary crash zooms and repetition.
I’m not crazy, I mean I know 3D isn’t necessarily evil. I’ve seen plenty of 3D films and indeed, 3D films in 2D where content hasn’t been compromised in order to cater for the 3D factor - Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Wender’s Pina serving as two excellent examples here. However the bottom line is, if you’re making a film to be shown in 2D and 3D, you’re effectively making two films for two different audiences. As a 2D viewer (choosing sensibly not to get eye strain and waste money being able to see less definition onscreen), I don’t want to be short changed.
Words: Gillian Sore
ART CINEMA: A RETROSPECTIVE
Words: Gillian Sore
Back when I and my cine spec’d friend Lamb were getting our film degrees we would often work together for group assignments. One project in particular broadened my cultural interests and shaped my taste in film dramatically. In the midst of a British film module we were asked to lead a seminar focusing on art cinema. I was already familiar with some of the American avant-garde work of the 40s and 50s, having been absolutely enchanted by Maya Deren’s At Land. However, when it came to British art cinema I didn’t know a lot. The sort of film installations I’d been exposed to in galleries had never really captured my imagination. Perhaps it was the overly well-lit environment of a gallery projection space that would ruin it for me, but I often found the work seemed somewhat stilted and underdeveloped, both technically and creatively.
For our seminar, we decided to focus on what we saw to be the future of art cinema, beginning our study by looking at the success of Steve McQueen’s Hunger, a film that revisits the infamous Irish hunger strike of 1981. I had found it surprising at the time that one of the most acclaimed British films of the year had in fact been directed by a Turner Prize winner. It may seem commonplace now but at the time I knew of few British artists who were taking (and indeed succeeding) the leap from gallery to cinema. McQueen’s winning Turner Prize piece was a video installation, in which McQueen himself re-enacts a famous Buster Keaton stunt. Of course he was not the only artist to have released a film that year; Sam Taylor-Wood also created a stir with her debut feature film Nowhere Boy, about the early years of John Lennon. However, Taylor-Wood was an artist I had mostly heard about via her relationship with the film’s star, not her artistic prowess (see accompanying picture).
This began a wave of intrigue for me; I wondered if there were more artists like McQueen and Taylor-Wood who were making the move into feature films. Then I came across answers I had hoped for on the UK Film Council website. They had had seen the potential of such successful artists and set up a fund to tap into this pool of budding UK talent. An exciting prospect. The webpage not only gave information on the funding but the names of artists and the projects they were working on. I set to work looking through artists and was astounded by the talent and incredibly excited about the prospects of the feature films that would be made. I decided for my part of the seminar I would discuss the future of the British art film as I saw it. No longer would artists show their work on an over-lit bit of ply board in a gallery. Installation pieces could ultimately be the earlier stages in a film director’s career; a new British cinema would emerge, one with an artistic approach, using innovative methods.
Frankly, I thought it was the way forward. In my section of the seminar I went on to highlight the works of Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gillian Wearing, Clio Barnard and others. And how did that go down with my peers? Not too well actually. I think apathetic best describes the group mentality of those in the room. It’s difficult to get some people excited about contemporary art, although they should be. Perhaps that’s one of the many, many reasons why this fund doesn’t exist anymore, or why I can no longer find a webpage that gives me comprehensive list of contemporary artists and what they’re working on. I really miss that webpage.
Ultimately the seminar, although disappointing in some ways, sparked an entirely new personal interest in the brotherhood of art and cinema. I loved the anticipation in waiting to see the outcome of these debut films because they were guaranteed to be different. Clio Barnard’s The Arbor was a particular highlight. But has this emerging British art cinema run out of steam before it even really started? The death of the UKFC and ever-tightening funds may well be putting a stranglehold on emerging debut art film projects. Let’s just hope the industry doesn’t let the gap between art and cinema widen too much, or we’ll be seeing a lot of safe Working Title-esque rom-coms and a lot less gutsy British art cinema over the course of the next few years.
“We are currently still in the process of making available all relevant information that was previously housed on the UKFC page, so hopefully [information on projects under development] will be included within that. Whilst we have no separate funding for Artists at the moment, we welcome all applications from this arena and still endeavour to support projects that are creatively progressive and experimental.”
(A message from the BFI’s film fund coordinator.)
LIAISONS OF A DANGEROUS KIND
Once known as the king of visceral horror, David Cronenberg’s style has undoubtedly changed over the past decade. In his early work, he created cult horror classics using shocking scenes of the grotesque with gore and guts as thought-provoking metaphors; his films are now big budget, beautifully shot and can appear to embrace the mainstream. However, behind the glossy Hollywood veneer his films are still a twisted commentary on sex, media and the psyche.
His latest film A Dangerous Method, is an elegantly crafted and evenly paced period drama in which he attempts to analyse the relationships, behaviours and desires of the most famous psychotherapists of all time, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Each character in this intense drama wrestles with their own demons, with sexual desire, jealousy and obsession at the forefront. Here it is not the visuals but the dialogue which paint dark images in the mind, images arguably as dark as those famous stomach churning scenes in Cronenberg’s earlier works, Shivers or Videodrome.
In-depth conversations between Freud, Jung, Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) and Sabina Speilrein (Keira Knightly) focus on themes of instinct, urges, ethics and repression. In early scenes, Speilrein, undertaking the talking cure, stutters and struggles over words and terms; the audience is encouraged to pinpoint her trauma and imagine events before she is able to sputter her story out for herself. Perhaps this is Cronenberg pointing out our natural state of perversion and willingness to analyse ourselves and others.
Knightly was particularly impressive as Speilrein, I’ve never been a fan and have often avoided films in which she’s cast. Her portrayal of the odd and eccentric patient/analyst/temptress has given her career newfound credibility. This seems particularly prevalent in her early scenes, where she emotionally and physically embodies the character, twisting and contorting with mental anguish. The rest of the cast too give impeccable performances as they captivate audience intrigue in their ability to convey extreme emotion and anxiety in the most subtle of ways. Complex emotions are almost visibly fizzing under the surface of the skin, mirroring the cultural repression of the time and the film’s almost stifling period drama formula.
Overall the film is an unusual study of a science concerned with sex and desire and is ultimately captivating viewing, but then again with this choice of topic Cronenberg really can’t fail. He’s built up enough of a portfolio on such issues to be quite the expert and in this film, as with his others, he takes the viewer down dark paths which bring into question their own stance on the study of psychology and human behaviour. There’s plenty to explore within the topic itself and placing the spectator in the centre of the debate adds a greater depth still. Cronenberg is likely to return to this strand of thought again and again. After all, he does it better and in a far more subversively twisted way than anyone else.
Words: Gillian Sore
The Skin I Live In – Pedro Almodovar
Master of melodrama Pedro Amodovar is known for his frequent subversions of gender. In his new feature, The Skin I Live in, identity and the female form is at the forefront in a twisted take on the classic gothic horror Frankenstein. Almodovar uses the narrative framework and themes of the Mary Shelly’s monster story and gives it an excellent rejuvenation. It is an inspired choice of influence for this veteran director as it allows him to create rich tableaux of ideas and visual metaphor of which he executes expertly.
In the films central roles are renowned surgeon Dr Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) and his mysterious patient Vera (Elena Anaya). Ledgard is a man misshapen by grief. Tragic events have resulted in the loss of the women he loved; these events have driven him to pursue medical experimentation that turns from the ethical boundaries of his profession and society.
Most of the film’s events take place in the surgeons home, which he also uses as a high security clinic. His walls are littered with painted celebrations of woman, shown in varying forms, styles and poses. Amongst these prised artworks, a large display screen, where he can watch Vera in her array of naturally elegant poses. Vera is beautiful, a perfect construction of the female form. Lingering shots over her body allow the audience to drink in this beauty and be seduced by it. However as an audience we are all too aware that there is something unsettling about Ledgard’s voyeurism, their relationship seems complex, perverse.
As the film motions towards its second act, the somewhat refined tone changes. This change is marked by an event steeped in the melodrama Almodovar is famous for, a truly unsettling marriage of comic and tragic meets in the form of a violent rape perpetrated by a predatory male in a ridiculously gaudy tiger suit. It is at this point that the drama rapidly builds in momentum as Almodovar employs the use of narrative flashbacks to uncover a multitude of shocking revelations.
I will refrain from talking about these twists further, as it would clumsily unravel a series of jaw dropping twists that Almodovar reveals so expertly. However I will mention that this crafting of the narrative is where Almodovar proves his strength in the horror genre. The success creating such an unsettling and macabre mood hangs on his ability to use flashbacks to manipulate the audience reaction. Initially we are curious, questioning the nature of the relationship between Ledgard and Vera but also delight in the sumptuous visuals on display. Engrossed in elegant camera movements, clean modern settings, and feminine beauty. However these flashbacks turn the visual imagery into something quite chilling and change the films tone altogether. The next time Vera is shown we are no longer intoxicated by the lush cinematography that captures her form. Instead a cold chill rushes down the spine.
The Skin I live in shows an iconic director’s ability to stretch his expertise into a new genre, whilst still giving the film an auteured gloss of rich and stylish cinematography, and direction, that is undoubtedly his own. It’s soap opera and art cinema combined, requiring a suspension of disbelief to truly appreciate. One things for sure, you won’t have seen anything like it.
BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED
When you’re young, the best thing about Christmas is the prospect of unwrapping presents. But not just any presents – more specifically, toys. Many have argued in recent years that the increasing presence of ‘virtual entertainment’ is destroying the very nature of a child’s playtime, with film, television and virtual video gaming shrinking the scope for imagination and giving young people an easier option for play on a rainy day. Yet, there is most certainly a realm where ‘childsplay’ and the moving image can succeed alongside each other, and not just in terms of children experiencing imaginative creativity through engaging (albeit passively) with their fantasies on screen. There are many ‘adults’ among us too, who have firmly clutched onto their right for ‘playtime’, and those people tend to be living, working and consuming within the creative industries. After all, such play landscapes allow for even the most serious, stiff-collared of adults to break free from the restrictions placed upon them in adult life, utilise a great source of escapism and let their imaginations run wild. Indeed, nowhere is this more prevalent than on the big screen, with ‘teen’ or ‘adult’ productions such as the recent Transformers franchise as proof that people are never too old to play, or at least engage in play, with toys. The most crucial thing here however, is that these are no longer the simple imaginings of childhood, in which one would spend days on end creating fictional landscapes and storylines within the mind, using nothing more than a set of static, tin soldiers. These are toys on screen, in varying senses of the word, with magical qualities; toys that fulfil the childhood reveries of every single person in existence – the exquisite notion of the inanimate becoming animate.
There is a somewhat varied history of ‘toys coming to life’ in the cinematic world; from the usual assortment of Mister Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, The Indian in the Cupboard, the Toy Story franchiseand Small Soldiers, to the much more sinister ideologies of the Chucky franchise and Stuart Gordon’s 1987 horror, Dolls, with a plot featuring “two magical toymakers and their haunted collection of dolls”. Yet what is it about the idea of inanimate objects bringing themselves to life that both fascinates and disturbs audiences, throughout all stages of their lives?
In guidelines written specifically for parents of young children, teaching organisation T.R.U.C.E. (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment), (yes, sadly this working group actually does exist) state that: “Play is essential to [a child’s] healthy development and learning. Children use play to actively construct knowledge, meet social/emotional needs, and acquire life skills. The content of their play comes from their own experience. Because of the pervasive influence of the electronic media – TV, movies…DVDs, computers, video games – children spend more time sitting in front of a screen and less time playing creatively with each other.” Indeed, it is their firm belief that such changes in the way a child conducts its playtime are “undermining play”.
While much can be said for collective, imaginative exploration through joint play sessions with other children, T.R.U.C.E. wholly misconceive the strengths of the moving image, and the way in which it too can allow for a different level of creative interactive play. Perhaps what matters more considerably in this type of ‘passive engagement’ with the imagination is the aftermath; how the child (or indeed adult) condenses the content post-screening. T.R.U.C.E. blame “the influence of high-powered marketing and popular culture” as interfering with what they see as the “thoughtful decision-making [process] at the toy store”. Yet ironically, much of popular culture’s influence is what inevitably creates profit for toy production companies, through the franchises shaped by ‘electronic media’ itself.
While a child may be able to imagine a scenario where their stuffed toy rabbit springs to life and fights with an Action Man doll, there is a lot to be said for the experiences that occur from within the cinema, where children are able to see such fantasies played out before their very eyes. If anything, such films as the hugely successful Toy Story 3, and even the more obscure Belgian production, A Town Called Panic are able to play upon such themes of magical interaction with toys, and enhance the imagination of the spectator, regardless of their age. Ailsa Caine of film magazine Little White Lies argues that Toy Story 3 ultimately “adheres strictly to kids-only conventions”, yet perhaps it is this very notion that appeals to a much broader audience than just the under-13s: the film is able to act as a device for pure nostalgia, a celebration not only of its predecessors, but of childhood itself.
A Town Called Panic on the other hand, takes the idea of plastic figurines coming to life much more literally, with Belgian filmmakers Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar sculpting a jerky, stop motion adventure from a handful of store-bought characters. Madcap to say the least, Panic captures the true chaos of childhood and the non-existent boundaries of the imagined with its abrasive sound effects and fast-paced action editing (not to mention a talking horse who wears shoes, drinks coffee from an oversized mug and reads the newspaper on the sofa). Making reference to Pixar’s Toy Story 3, Sight and Sound’s Andrew Osmond describes Panic as “commercially and technically on the other end of the scale but essentially the same idea: take a cowboy, an Indian, a horse smarter than either…and try to sustain a shaggy-dog adventure with them all for 77 minutes.”
Yet, most crucially, what Osmond identifies is the spectatorial excitement, the igniting of an audience’s imagination that the film brings about, making it easy to imagine “budding child animators watching the antics…mustering their own toy armies at home and letting rip with a camera.” Suddenly childhood playtime just got serious; the children of today don’t just want to imagine stories only to leave them behind as they progress into adulthood. They want to go on to recreate them in later life. Play is no longer a temporary state of mind, but a pathway into becoming the next Wes Anderson or Tim Burton. Stick that in your Christmas stocking and smoke it, sceptics.
(c) Laura J. Smith
IN THE MIDST OF A WAVE
Fifty years ago, if cinemagoers had been told that a group of young men who happened to all write for a French film magazine were going to try their hand at filmmaking and were going to change everything, few would have believed it. Yet, half a century on sees the fiftieth anniversary DVD rerelease of Jean Luc-Godard’s masterpiece (and yes, it really does deserve this moniker), A Bout de Souffle (1960), a film so frequently hailed as the poster child of a whole revolutionary film movement. While you may be thinking that in reality not much of the cinema experience has changed, that films now are as much about spectacle as they were back in Hollywood’s Golden Era (if not more so), what La Nouvelle Vague and indeed A Bout de Souffle represent are a whole other side of filmmaking: film as art. Godard’s ingenuity is responsible for carving out a future perspective of both filmmaking and film criticism that still grips and inspires artists and spectators today.
More commonly known by its English title, Breathless’ plot carries a simple enough premise: a French car thief and a beautiful young American girl share a love affair that ends inevitably with his dramatic demise. Yet, what it is that shapes Breathless as such an influential and long lasting ‘classic’ of French cinema is Godard’s ferocious delivery of simplistic subject matter, his direction of iconic actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg and his all-out gallantry in creating the first of many films that broke all the rules, both in his homeland and overseas in America and England.
Godard’s daring approach to filmmaking brought about several drastic changes. Leaving behind a lavish, high-budget cinema of French literary adaptations, those behind La Nouvelle Vague utilised new technology, taking their cameras out of the stuffy constraints of the studio and into the world; their world: Paris. Able to portray cinema through their own, vigorous perceptions, the films of La Nouvelle Vague echo the strong opinions of their creators. Attempting on every level to create something that could stand against the bourgeoisie of the France they had grown up in, Godard’s films in particular denote increasingly active political and artistic statements. At the heart of Godard’s inspiration dwells an ideology founded in his own acute awareness of American cinema from his experiences as a film critique for renowned journal Cahiers du Cinema. His oft-recalled statement: ‘All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun’, rings true no more effectively than in Breathless, accompanied by Jean Seberg’s effortlessly cool persona, that brings with it a whole barrage of iconic representatives of both American popular culture and sophisticated ‘Frenchness’. The countless premeditated references to such iconoclastic cinematic moments as Humphrey Bogart’s trademark smoking pose detail just how conscious of his actions Godard really was, even back at the beginning of what has since become a lifelong career.
If you haven’t already seen Breathless, it’s certainly about time that you did.
(c) Laura J. Smith, 2010.
ENTERING THE VOID.
Gasper Noe’s latest cinematic assault comes in the form of Enter the Void, which, from the trailer alone suggests audiences should expect another unhealthy slice of debauchery and strobe lighting. When compared with the trailer from his earlier groundbreaking shocker, Irreversible, Enter the Void looks (though it might seem impossible) even more degenerate and taboo. Shot almost entirely in the absence of the main protagonist himself, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), the film charts his journey in accordance to a book borrowed from his friend Alex in the film’s ‘opening’ scenes, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. After being betrayed by a confidante in a vile club knowingly titled The Void, and reminiscent of Irreversible’s gay club, The Rectum, Oscar journeys through a spirit world, watching on as a ghost trapped in limbo while his sister Linda (show-stealing Paz de la Huerta) mourns over her kindred spirit, with whom she shares a rather questionable bond with.
It is interesting then, that in the few fleeting moments we do actually lay eyes on our main protagonist (by way of a bathroom mirror), his face looks foreign and unknown to us, thus is the success of the first-person narrative and multitude of POV shots, juxtaposed with Oscar’s continual shape-shifting throughout the film. A ghost he most certainly is, the characters around him embodying his story more so than even his own physicality can. While it is suggested that after a disturbing and unsettled childhood, Oscar and his sister Linda have become unhealthily close to one another, Linda’s behaviour almost directly mirrors that of her dead brother’s, potentially because they share the same genes, or possibly because he seems to inherit her body from time to time throughout the film. While it is in the hands of the viewer to fully decide how such sequences are to be interpreted, there are, at times, undeniably obvious motions that suggest Oscar possesses the body of his sister. Idyllic scenes of the pair promising to never leave each other are coupled with intensified moments of graphic sex and violence, within which the two become entwined as one mysterious entity, with ever-changing faces and moods. While Noe himself has told critics not to read too much into the incestuous tones of the film, it becomes, by the end, nigh on impossible to overlook them.
Vivid colours, relentless strobe lighting and the neon signs that litter Tokyo where the film is set add to the bewildering sense that everything is all a little too much for your brain to handle, the film is at once mesmerisingly beautiful, grimy and stomach-turning. With a fairly unknown cast, yet a visibly higher budget, Enter the Void manages to achieve a very rare place in cinema, one where words are difficult to find that could describe its effect in full. Put it this way, it’s taken three days to be able to conjure up enough coherence to sit down and write this.
(c) Laura J. Smith, 2010.
THE LAST OF THE PICTUREHOUSES
Words: (c) Laura Lamb, 2011.
“Thirty-five years of silent cinema is gone, no one looks at it anymore. This will happen to the rest of cinema. Cinema is dead.”
Back in 2007, renowned art-house filmmaker Peter Greenaway stated, “cinema’s death date was 31st September 1983, when the remote-control zapper was introduced to the living room, because now cinema has to be interactive, multi-media art”. Knowing Greenaway’s contrary character, it’s hard to tell whether he was conscious of the fact that September only actually had 30 days, but aside from this, he is certainly not alone in his scepticism. However, such bold statements implying the demise of cinema as a whole are nothing new. The end of French new-wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard’s infamous Weekend (1967) displays the titles ‘Fin de Cinema’, and his later film King Lear (1987) stated that “movies, and more generally art, have been lost…and must somehow be reinvented.”
Certainly, cinema as we once knew it has morphed and transformed itself a thousand times over since its inception in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These times represented a collective excitement of the masses, attending Nickelodeons and Picturehouses in the early part of the 20th Century, when cinema was not only an aesthetic experience but also very much a social one. In its earliest form of exhibition, the cinema was a place for live musical accompaniment, intervals featuring vaudeville dance acts, news reels and of course, the awe-inspiring flickering of moving images, projected through a wondrous stream of light from the back of the theatre, illuminated dust particles passing over the audience like something unexplainable and magical.
In an article on the then-astonishing new technology that enabled, for the first time in history, the simultaneous premiere of a film in both a movie theatre and online, BBC News Online Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook wrote that “many doomsayers predict the digital revolution will destroy the magic of the cinema, not movies themselves, but the actual communal experience of going into a dimly lit auditorium, munching popcorn, and engaging in a collective celluloid fantasy” (Brook, 1999, BBC). Little did he know how accurate and to what extent such a statement would ring true two decades later. Since 1999, almost all cinemas have become digital, in turn a blessing and a curse. Such a move has enabled filmmakers with far less money in their pockets to create budget masterpieces that can be deservedly appreciated by a mass audience. Yet, it has also arguably acted as one of many signs of the ‘death’ of cinema as a treasured art form, with more and more high-scale budget productions (overflowing with CGI effects, predominantly those relating to the ‘third-dimension’) accounting for the majority of screen-time in the remaining theatres that audiences are actually interested in flocking to on mass.
Filmmakers Gregory and Maria Pearse write that, “on the surface, cinema appears to be the ideal medium for capturing not only external, physical movement, but also internal, spiritual movement. Cinema cannot possibly fulfil its potential unless it succeeds on both these levels.” (Pearse, 1998). Therefore, if such a statement defines the full artistic possibilities of film, perhaps indeed, in terms of the mainstream, the cinema is dead. Many artists are themselves intrigued by the notions of death and decay, and this has been no better represented than in the world of photography. Several are fascinated by the beauty of the demise of the grand interiors of the last great Picturehouses from times gone by.
And yet, in recent years, there has been something of a revival of the act of ‘going to the cinema’, through projects such as Secret Cinema, Future Shorts and popular outdoor screenings at locations including Somerset House, which annually plays host to Film Four’s Summer Screen series. The success of such a revival lies in the reinvention of the novelty of the cinemagoing experience. In its origins, the physicality of going to a movie theatre was, in itself, largely the appeal of watching a film. Before the invention of television, multiplexes, home cinema systems, and 3D technology, the cinema was the place to be on a Friday and Saturday night, or for double-billed matinee performances on rainy afternoons. Today, it takes a lot to convince most people to leave the comfort of their own homes and venture out to their local cinema. The ethos behind projects like Secret Cinema and Film Four’s Summer Screen places emphasis on celebrating the beauty of the cinema experience, and proves that, thankfully, some people are still enthusiastic enough to go to (often) great lengths and pay fairly high ticket prices to chase after the once-commonly celebrated moment of ‘making an event’ out of watching a film. Secret Cinema represents a niche audience drawn in by the mystery and intrigue of buying tickets to screenings without knowing what they will be until they arrive at covert destinations and witness the opening credits roll.
A recent Secret Cinema escapade saw eager film enthusiasts participate in the ‘experience’ of watching a film in an old, unused mental hospital, dressed as patients and buying their food and drinks from the bar in medical bags (for a screening of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest). Secret Cinema’s most outlandish project to date, Unknown Culture Movement, whose motto is ‘Move or Be Moved’, acts as an outlet for all those who wish to create or engage in various art forms to come together and speak out about their passion. As the Manifesto itself explains, “the Unknown Culture Movement will struggle for beauty, for music, for art, for perfection. We will rage against the unknown forces that are strangling our imaginations. We will revolt so that we may create. Together we will stand. Together we will be heard. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough. We shall never surrender.”
No notion could be as powerful and fitting in the turbulent times faced by the UK arts scene as it experiences the spate of government cuts and subsequent criticism from those who are not so artistically minded. Last year saw the Conservative government abruptly exterminate the UK Film Council, to the dismay of filmmakers worldwide. A wise move in hard financial times for those unaware perhaps, of the sheer economic value of the British film industry, who had themselves noted a distinct revival in cinema attendance over the 10 years since the UKFC was founded as a funding body for the art of the moving image.
Like all once-celebrated things that become neglected by the masses, the ongoing decline of the ‘event of cinema’ had seemed almost inevitable, yet, as recent figures from the late UKFC have shown, audiences are certainly not ready to give up on such an experience just yet.
Viva la Cinema!