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Personal Problems, dir. by Bill Gunn (USA, 1980)

By Russell Banfield Bill Gunn had little time for Hollywood. After achieving some success with the screenplay to The Landlord, dir. by Hal Ashby (USA, 1970), Gunn’s directorial debut, Stop (1970), so incensed Warner Brothers who claimed Gunn deviated far from his own script that the film was never released. His next film, Ganja and Hess (1973), fared slightly better, in that it was released, but was panned by critics to the extent that the film was taken away from Gunn and recut, retitled, and reissued. Gunn was so angry that he allegedly stormed into the producer’s office and trashed the place. From then on, Gunn was labeled…

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the gleaners and i agnes varda

From Self-Portrait to Selfie: Event Notes and Resources

On Friday 5th July the Birkbeck cinema will host the Self-Representation in Visual Culture research group for the launch of their latest publication, the edited collection From Self-Portrait to Selfie: Representing the Self in the Moving Image, published by Peter Lang. You can register your attendance for free here. Established in 2013, the Self-Representation in Visual Culture research group is an interdisciplinary, international group focused on self-representation in visual arts, film, and new media, consisting of academics and researchers Muriel Tinel-Temple, Laura Busetta and Marlène Monteiro. This blog post serves as a resource prior to the screening of related materials, writings and media produced by…

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highway hearing

BIMI-PITT Research Workshop: “Displacement in Film and Visual Culture”

By Russell Banfield Friday 17thMay, Panel #5: Displacing Communities Over the course of three days, the third edition of the BIMI-PITT Research Workshop, a joint venture between the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the University of Pittsburgh to share and develop research, covered a wide range of subjects, all based around the notion of displacement. For the fifth panel, Displacing Communities, John Taylor and William Ackah took the theme of displacement at its most literal, focusing on the countless people, homes, and communities that have been removed, destroyed, or divided by US government social policy in the 1950s and 1960s, namely the construction…

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doozy film

Doozy, dir. by Richard Squires (UK, 2018)

By Russell Banfield Where does the character end and the actor begin? That’s the question behind Doozy, an essay film by Richard Squires that weaves academic commentary, animated dramatizations, and childhood recollections to explore the life and career of Paul Lynde, a closeted gay actor who voiced some of Hanna-Barbera’s best-loved villains, but who struggled with alcoholism, typecasting, and the constant tension between his public life as a popular comedian and his private life as a closeted homosexual. Each of the characters he voiced regularly dressed up in drag, were always humiliated at the end, and all had a snarky, camp voice, sniggering laughter, and fey…

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films with a mission bimi screening

Films with a Mission: Medical Films from the Catholic Mission Archives

By Tom Baker The formerly narrow history of British documentary has been expanded greatly in recent years to allow room for early innovators of the form working outside the cinema space. Alongside better-known names such as John Grierson, Bill Mason, Lindsay Anderson and his Free Cinema associates, the re-release and reappraisal of educational features and shorts produced during the first half of the 20th century -- from those made by the GPO Film Unit and British Instructional Films up through to the government-funded Public Information Films of the sixties and seventies -- have offered up a fascinating parallel history in the evolution of documentary filmmaking…

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laura mulvey in conversation bimi event

Art at the Frontier of Film Theory Workshop: Laura Mulvey and Lucy Reynolds

  By Russell Banfield Strange and Magical. That’s how Laura Mulvey described this exhibition of her and Peter Wollen’s extraordinary impact on film theory, art history, and avant-garde filmmaking. Letters, diagrams, sketches, scripts, and notes are all displayed relating to four of the six films Mulvey and Wollen made together: Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974), Riddles of the Sphinx (1977),Crystal Gazing (1982), and Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1983). Also included are outlines to three unmade film projects, notes and catalogues of Wollen’s exhibitions of ‘Komar & Melamid: History Painting’ (1985), ‘On the Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International’…

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A Conversation Up in the Sky: a preview of Adam Kossoff’s ‘Through the Bloody Mists of Time’

  By Fernando Chaves Espinach Walter Benjamin and Humphrey Jennings never met, but the two intellects surely have much to say to each other in Adam Kossoff’s new film. On February 8th, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) at the Birkbeck Cinema enjoyed their impossible conversation as a preview screening of Through the Bloody Mists of Time, a work in progress that returns to Kossoff’s concerns about montage, urban spaces, and the dialectical image. The film purportedly shows a slowed-down version of a 9.5mm film shot by Jennings during the Paris Exposition of 1937, when the horrors of war were about to fracture…

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Let Them Speak: Women’s Voices in Helena Solberg’s short films

Author: Fernando Chaves Espinach Date: 12/02/2019 The final sequence of The Interview (1966) is jarring. After watching a woman preparing for her wedding and listening to middle-class women voicing their opinions on sexuallity and education, we cut to agitation in the streets. Manifestations, placards, masses: society in turmoil, at the gates of a military dictatorship. Such a break in mood emphasizes what later became appreciated in the Brazilian director’s cinema: her relentless highlighting of the political dimension of women’s private lives. The Interview was the first of three short films shown on February 8th at the Birkbeck Cinema in a programme curated by Patricia Sequeira…

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Marilyn Monroe: a reappraisal

This recording comes from a discussion between Laura Mulvey and Jacqueline Rose following a screening of Niagara (1953). The recording can be accessed here: Niagara (1953) A newlywed couple, the Cutlers, arrive at Niagara Falls and meet another couple, the Loomis', of differing ages, who are always arguing. Mrs Cutler spies Mrs Loomis kissing another man, and learns that they are planning to murder the husband. He, however, kills the boyfriend first, and then his wife on an observation tower above the falls, before drowning in the falls himself. (BFI) Trailer for Niagara (1953)  

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