fter a year of peering at movies on, at best, a flatscreen telly or at worst, a laptop (me, sorry), it’s safe to say we’re all gagging to get back into the cinema. Surround sound, high definition, no chance of burning the popcorn… what a dream. In celebration of the reopening of cinemas everywhere, the BFI has asked a clutch of amazing filmmakers and film-enablers, from Asif Kapadia to Zhu Shengze, to pick a festival-worth of movies that really need to be seen on the big screen. Here, eleven of them tell us the films they’ve chosen and why.
Gurinder Chadha on Car Wash (Michael Schultz, 1976)
Car Wash was released in 1976. I was still at school and TV was showing alleged ‘comedies’ like Love Thy Neighbour and Mind Your Language. Then BOOM, Car Wash on the big screen exploded something in my brain. Here was a film with all kinds of Black characters dealing with everyday life in a myriad of ways. There was humour, pathos, music and politics. I didn’t know it then as a school girl, but this would become the currency of my films years later when I unexpectedly, against all odds, became a film maker. I love this film for showing me what affectionate, subversive film making was at such an early age.
Sarah Smith on Broadcast News (James L Brooks, 1987)
Broadcast News is one of those films one stumbles across in a late night TV schedule. But it’s a wonderfully witty, sophisticated movie that deserves to be seen as a cinema experience. It’s a rare thing – a really intelligent adult relationship story and newsroom drama that’s properly funny, while at the same time far ahead of its time in its examination of the ethics and politics of news and television.
Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt are a stunning triangle (never mind Jack Nicholson and Joan Cusack in support). It’s one of the few films by legend James L Brooks – Taxi, The Simpsons, As Good As It Gets – and is such a satisfying, memorable movie with many pleasures, from the hilarious scene of a newsreader’s horrifying onscreen sweating outbreak, to the poignancy of the overlooked ‘best friend’, and an outstanding female lead. Hunter’s feisty, whip-smart, workaholic producer remains for me an iconic heroine. Am I here because I wanted to be her? Maybe.
Tricia Tuttle, BFI Festivals Director on David Byrne’s American Utopia (Spike Lee, 2020)
Films capturing stage shows rarely have the cinematic vibrancy of Spike Lee’s adaption of David Byrne’s American Utopia. Spike’s camera offers an intimacy amongst the performers, showing off the extraordinary musicality and show-craft that make Byrne and his band feel like a single organism. This film was quick to sell out at LFF last October, in that brief, beautiful window of movie-going prior to lockdown two, but very few people have seen it on the big screen.
And what a treat, with its subliminal siren calls demanding that you get up and dance in the aisles. Talking Heads classics like Once in a Lifetime and This Must Be the Place give way to Janelle Monáe’s Hell You Talmbout which compels the audience to say the names of Black victims of police brutality in America. While the staunchly political Byrne is never hectoring, it’s a charged, slightly uncomfortable moment for the mostly white, middle-aged crowd watching the show, with us in the dark watching them. It’s given extra power knowing who is behind the camera.
Asif Kapadia on The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979)
I had an older brother, Salim; he was 10 years older and he was a huge influence on me when I was younger. He was into early hip-hop, New York street culture, breakdancing, Bruce Lee films, Johan Cruyff, and he first brought films like Taxi Driver, Evil Dead and The Warriors home on VHS tapes. I was obviously too young to watch them (but I did). I remember the VHS cover of The Warriors, with the red graffiti style writing, making a big impression.
Whenever I’ve travelled on the New York subway, the film – about turf wars between rival NYC gangs – has always come to mind. A few years ago I made a pilgrimage to Coney Island, where The Warriors are from, with the family.
Over the years I’ve seen the film many times, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it on the big screen, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. With everything going on politically in this country, it’s a reminder that we the people outnumber the corrupt politicians, and if we come together and keep the truce, we could take this city… because it’s all our turf!
Kirsten Johnson on Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
You have the chance to see Beau Travail in a movie theatre?!
Look down at your own hand and turn it over. Make a fist and search for the map of veins under the surface of your skin. Stretch your fingers. Now, remembering your body is your own, spring up and make a date with your own destiny.
You won’t forget this movie, ever, even when you are much older than you are now. You will bask in the heat of its sun. You will be in longing. You will want to go back to a place you have never been.
I can’t really count how many times I’ve seen it. But every time, I find myself prickling alive, breathing boldness, open-mouthed at the contradictions and mysteries of being human. Memories of Beau Travail float through me in the most unexpected moments. May they float with you too.
Edgar Wright on Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
“One is starved for technicolor up there.” This is, of course, a quote from another Powell & Pressburger film, A Matter Of Life & Death, but I often think of it when I’m missing the cinema. I’ve only even seen their 1947 classic Black Narcissus on the small screen, so I’m selfishly picking it to redress that. I’ve long thought of it as the most gorgeous use of Technicolor in cinema and one particular shot in the climax always takes my breath away; the shocking transformation of Sister Ruth. I look forward to savouring this moment in NFT1 at the BFI on the Southbank.
Luca Guadagnino on Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
I had the privilege of watching this movie when I was president of the Jury at the San Sebastián Film Festival last September; it’s the story of a woman and her personal crisis in her relationship with her husband, but also her own personal crisis, and how she takes steps in her life that are irrevocable. When we saw it in San Sebastián, I and my Jury Members, and the people in the screening room were all enthralled by it. There was a sense of seeing something completely new, like a sort of revelation.
It reminds me of great pieces of art, in a way nothing can be the same after you see or experience it. Dea Kulumbegashvili is an incredible filmmaker; her command of the language, her capacity for understanding how a movie can change the audience forever, it’s astonishing. Performances, camera work, cinematography, music, the scenario of Georgia, it all contributes to an incredible vision.
Ben Roberts, BFI CEO on Blow Out (Brian De Palma, John G Fox, 1979)
My other half and I capitalised on the past year as best we could – and introducing each other to and rewatching classic films has been a real pleasure. So when it came to choosing something for the reopening of BFI Southbank I picked this highlight from our lockdown season.
Like all of De Palma’s stuff, he is so clearly in love with the movies here. Travolta plays a sound recordist for trashy slasher films who stumbles into a murder plot – and the set pieces are terrific. And no-one homages like De Palma.
We’ve all spent the last year watching film and TV on TV, and it’s become a bit of cliché to say that the two forms have started blurring into one. Well, they haven’t! Cinema is cinema whatever size a screen you watch it on – but I really can’t wait to watch this beautifully crafted celebration of sound and pictures on a big screen.
Francis Lee on Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984)
I first saw Footloose in the summer of 1984 at the Halifax ABC and I was 15. Set in small town America where dancing is banned, new kid in town conquers high school, catches the eye of the preacher’s daughter and attempts to plan a school dance. I love the youth rebellion in this film and how it changes the system. I love the depiction of unlikely male friendships and fragile masculinity. I love the romance. It’s full of ‘f*** you’ energy and has one of the best, thumping disco soundtracks that makes me want to dance and feel 15 again, where anything is possible.
Zhu Shengze on The Gleaners & I (Agnès Varda, 2000)
With warmth and good humour, Varda explores the world of modern-day gleaners in this fascinating, idiosyncratic “road documentary”. The film provides a playful rumination on many things: from the idea of waste to the experience of ageing, and from the contradictions of this consumerist world to the allure of a water-damaged ceiling.
More importantly, the film raises simple, yet crucial questions about seeing and discovering: what do we see and how we see? It reflects upon the significance of the used, the debris, and the trivial and illuminates the beauty in things that the world often ignores. As Varda said: “Finding fun where sometimes it’s just a bore; finding fun when it’s a burden. You can always make something look different.”
Mark Cousins on The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher, 2014)
The re-opening of BFI Southbank is a cause for joy, so I chose a film that gives me joy. The Wonders isn’t a movie spectacle, or visually dazzling. But its portrait of a family in Italy that makes honey, of a teenage girl who seems to eat bees, of a boy who doesn’t talk, of a kitsch but moving TV show, is magical. The film clears my head and reminds me of the quirk and quest in life. Its director, Alice Rohrwacher, is quietly renewing cinema.
Dream Palace: Movies Made for the Big Screen is at BFI Southbank from May 17 to June 30. bfi.org.uk
Radiohead amid functions asking Authorities to make it less complicated to tour in EU
New publish-Brexit Uk regulations which arrived into power at the starting of the 12 months do not assurance visa-absolutely free vacation for musicians in the EU.
The team of musicians have warned that United kingdom functions experience “insurmountable financial and logistical limitations established by Brexit” and get in touch with on the Federal government to “save” EU touring.
The #LetTheMusicMove marketing campaign is urging action to be certain an end to “Brexit-similar charge, paperwork and forms presently blocking EU touring”.
Blur drummer David Rowntree is also supporting the marketing campaign.
He advised the PA information agency: “Gigs are starting up up once again, musicians who haven’t worked for a year are now searching to see if they can set some gigs in the diary and nonetheless there is nevertheless almost nothing in place.
“We have no agreement across the EU which means there’s a unique routine in every single place, a distinctive visa to get, a distinctive established of guidelines to stick to.”
He added bands like Blur “will be fine”, but all those who are just starting up to forge a job in the music business will be worse afflicted.
Rock band Skunk Anansie, who are also supporting the marketing campaign, mentioned in a assertion: “EU touring and the require to get the ideal method in location for uncomplicated and cost-effective access to Europe is very important at this time much more than ever.
“It is the lifestyle blood of bands and artists, not just economically, but to develop their fanbases and provide their artwork to a broader audience and the house of several bands to hone their crafts.
“Especially now, just after the severe monetary influence of the pandemic, this touring can, and will be, the lifesaver for several bands, artists, and crews.
“We need motion, we have to have support, and we will need accessibility.”
Primal Scream bassist Simone Butler included: “It’s important that bands, artists, musicians and DJs can journey Europe at just about every level of their career.
“Europe is element of the geographic working house.
“To make it financially and logistically unrealistic to do demonstrates and festivals will be halting the livelihoods and occupations of generations of musicians.”
Very last thirty day period, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden claimed artists will be ready to undertake some touring in at least 17 of the 27 European Union member states with no needing visas or get the job done permits.
He explained to the Digital, Tradition, Media and Activity Committee he has engaged with every EU place on the difficulty due to the fact January.
There have been calls from throughout the performing arts industries for a cultural do the job allow deal to be attained in between the Federal government and the EU, with a petition on the situation securing a lot more than 280,000 signatures.
A Government spokeswoman said: “We want performers and other innovative gurus to be in a position to tour easily overseas.
“Short-phrase, temporary visits for compensated performances by Uk performers are possible in at least 17 EU international locations, which include France, Germany and the Netherlands, with no needing visas or do the job permits.
“However, we recognise the difficulties continue to being confronted by the sector.
“That is why we are doing work carefully with person member states to persuade them to undertake a a lot more flexible technique, in line with the UK’s possess regulations which allow for creative experts to tour very easily in this article.”
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