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Category: Writing

Cinephiles: The Bad and The Beautiful

by Billy Stanton Friday 1st June marked the screening of a beautiful 35mm print of Vincente Minnelli’s 1952 ‘The Bad and The Beautiful’ as part of the ongoing Cinephiles strand programmed by Dr Michael Temple. The strand focuses on films about film-making, and Minnelli’s work represented a move for the series from the silent era to the sound era, delving into the Hollywood system of the talkies through the tale of the fall-rise-and-fall of Kirk Douglas’ determined, morally ambivalent movie producer. Taking on a structure similar to a sort of simplified Citizen Kane (the amount of speakers giving their account of the lead character is…

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Records of War: Film, History and the Art School

Conny Klocker, intern at the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) and PhD candidate at the School of Law writes on a recent screening of 1930s propaganda film.  As part of the UCL Festival of Culture, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) was showing two propaganda films about the Italian invasion in Abyssinia in 1935/36 according to a programme first presented at the London Film Society in 1937. One film depicted a Soviet account of the events from the Abyssinians’ perspective, the other from the invaders, the fascist Italian perspective. The screening itself presented a difficult task for the two projectionists, who…

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CLUES, HISTORIES, MYSTERIES AND MYSTORIES

by Billy Stanton On the 28th of April the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image hosted “Clues, Histories, Mysteries and Mystories”, an event dedicated to essay films focusing on international, personal and familial history in the first-person mode; what was demonstrated by the films shown and the speakers arguments was the potential held by this specific form to probe and present suppressed and buried histories, both general and individual. San Sabba  The event opened with an introduction from the chair Professor Catherine Grant, before a screening of San Sabba, a 2016 documentary by Dr. Romana Turina. Dr Turina followed the screening by discussing her work and…

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Interview with film programmer and freelance writer Jonathan Ali

Ahead of the screenings of  The House on Coco Road (Damani Baker, 2016) and  Memories of a Penitent Heart(Cecilia Aldarondo, 2016)  on June 22nd and 23rd we speak with the Jonathan Ali, the programme's curator. The title of this programme, 'Of Great Events and Ordinary People', comes from a Raul Ruiz documentary, why did you chose it as the title for your programme? As a title, I think Of Great Events and Ordinary People touches on a potent idea that runs through both of the films in the programme, The House on Coco Road and Memories of a Penitent Heart. The two films attempt to explore the lives…

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Focus on James Mason

by Billy Stanton Saturday 26th May saw a very special event at Birkbeck cinema: the launch of Sarah Thomas’ BFI Film Stars book on James Mason, accompanied by papers from Thomas and Adrian Garvey, and a presentation of a rare 35mm print of Max Ophüls’ classic noir-melodrama The Reckless Moment (1949). In front of a room packed with Mason aficionados, Adrian Garvey put James Mason’s career in both the British and American film systems in context, placing him as a ‘homme fatale’ standing in contrast to the more familiar ‘femme fatale’ of noir studies. Garvey traced Mason’s history from bit-part tough in Gainsborough melodramas to…

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Ndumu: The Story of Crocodile Survival in South Africa

by Billy Stanton On Friday 25th May Dr. Simon Pooley introduced the first UK screening of Ndumu: The Story of Crocodile Survival in South Africa, a rare documentary produced for South African television around the time of its inception in 1976, and featuring Dr Pooley’s father, Tony (A.C.) Pooley, at work in the titular crocodile conservation reservation in the region now known as KwaZulu-Natal. Ndumu works as a striking alternative to the traditional mode of nature documentary film-making; the familiar authoritative voice-over is not the sole provider of information and is indeed challenged by the voices of Tony Pooley, questioned by guests around a homely…

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SCI/FILM: Parapsychology and Ghost Hunting on TV

by Billy Stanton May 4th marked the final event in the ongoing Sci/Film series at Birkbeck Cinema before the beginning of a year-long sabbatical; for the discussion were present Prof. Christopher French (head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths) and Dr. Cecilia Sayad (Senior Lecturer, Film and Media, University of Kent), who has written at length on the subgenre of ghost-hunting television shows. In showing a full episode from season 3 of Most Haunted (filmed at the Schooner Hotel, and featuring long-since departed and disgraced medium Derek Acorah) in contast with clips from the (entirely fictional) Ghostwatch (1992) and the American series Paranormal State, what…

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Cinematic richness of Belgium

by Vladimir Seput, M.A. Student On Wednesday night, the 21st of February, Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image was once again filled with people. This time, BIMI hosted Belgian film lovers (and those who might become ones) who came to watch and listen about the latest trends in Belgian cinema in a special, introductory event to the programme, Focus on Belgian Cinema. With the support of Wallonie-Bruxelles International and Flanders House, film critic and author Louis Danvers and Wouter Hessels, the film lecturer and cinema programmer at the Brussels Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema and Sound travelled across the Channel to give talks on the…

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It Follows – University of Pittsburgh Annual Lecture

This article was contributed by Kelli Weston, an MPhil Film and Screen Media student In October, BIMI hosted the University of Pittsburgh’s annual lecture with a special talk by Adam Lowenstein’s on David Robert Mitchell’s film It Follows (2014). Shot and set in Detroit, Michigan, the film’s environmental implications often take a backseat to the thrill of its monsters, killings, and gore. Lowenstein’s talk, entitled ‘A Detroit Landscape with Figures: The Subtractive Horror of It Follows’, places the film firmly within the contemporary political and social climate of Detroit, a city that has, in recent years, become synonymous with scarcity and desolation. This scarcity is glaringly felt in It…

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Filming the Absent Mother

Filming the Absent Mother 14th of June 2014 This symposium was designed around the juxtaposition of two films – Histoire d’un secret (Mariana Otero 2003) and Un’ora sola ti vorrei (Alina Marazzi 2002) -, both about the disappearance of the director’s mother. Neither child was told anything about the circumstances of her mother’s death. Using differing aesthetic strategies, both films investigate the mother’s life and, in the process of unraveling the mystery of her disappearance, reveal social and psychosocial problems and issues that continue to be relevant for feminism. But the directors also use cinema and narration to address their own loss, creating a moving…

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