In a futuristic Japan threatened by anarchy, the authorities try to maintain order by sending a group of randomly selected, unruly school children to an island where they are forced to fight each other until there is only one survivor left. This cruel annual game is led by Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano, perfectly cast as the sadistic schoolmaster. The vision of veteran director Kinji Fukasaku, inspired by his own trauma as a young man during Word War II, is stark and uncompromising, and his direction is as tight and efficient as in any of his celebrated yakuza movies. A striking film that works both as an exhilarating action movie and a passionate denunciation of the plight of young people forced to commit violent acts by tyrannical elders.
We are delighted to welcome anime expert Helen McCarthy, author of The Anime Encyclopedia, for a Q&A after the screening.
FILM WRITING COMPETITION:
Film students and aspiring film writers are invited to enter our film writing competition: write a 200-word review of Battle Royale and send it to ladyvengeance [at] electricsheepmagazine.com, marked ‘Film writing competition’ in the subject line. Editor of the Directory of World Cinema: Japan and Electric Sheep contributor John Berra will select the best review. Deadline: Thursday 29 April. The selected review will be published on the Electric Sheep website in May. This is a regular feature of the Electric Sheep Film Club. Read February’s winning review of Kiss Me Deadly.
We are very proud to be presenting two late-night special screenings at the wonderful, eclectic Flatpack Festival in Birmingham on March 26 and 27: first off is demented 70s Mexican cult horror movie Alucarda by director and one-time Jodorowsky collaborator Juan Lopez Moctezuma (Guillermo del Toro is a fan) while on Saturday 27, we present a preview of festival favourite Dogtooth, winner of the ‘Un Certain Regard’ prize at last year’s Cannes Festival. Disturbing, provocative and grimly funny, Dogtooth centres on a radically overprotective couple who have completely shut off their children from the outside world. Brilliantly inventive and surreally perverse, it is a remarkably assured, bold, original directorial debut.
Flatpack runs from 23 to 28 March and as ever the programme is a lucky dip of the best new features, animation, documentaries, shorts, kids movies and experimental film, along with live scores, bus-tours, workshops, special guests and loads of free screenings. There’s also a bit of a 1930s flavour to our archive strand in honour of ‘patron saint’ Oscar Deutsch, who created the Odeon cinema empire from nothing and brought modernist super-cinemas to Britain’s high streets.
Special Events Include:
The opening film: F.W. Murnau’s 1927 marvel Sunrise, presented at St Martin’s Church in the Bullring with a new score by acclaimed jazz musicians Alcyona Mick and Robin Fincker.
French artist Julien Maire plays with technology to create bewitching optical illusions. Working from Birmingham library, Maire will make text appear with his fingertips, and presents a rare performance of his piece Diapositives using modified slide-projectors.
Dublin collective Synth Eastwood are doing a mini-residency in Birmingham, building up to a warehouse event blurring the boundaries between gallery and club. Expect an eye-opening stew of graphics, installations, music and performance. Live guests include Clark (Warp), AV duo Gangpol and Mit and youtube provocateur Hugh Cooney.
This year’s Flatpack ‘patron saint’ is Oscar Deutsch, the son of a Birmingham scrap metal merchant who built his first Odeon cinema 80 years ago and went on to bring art deco glamour to high streets across the UK. Flatpack doffs its cap to the great man with bus-tours to landmark Odeon buildings, classic matinees and an exploration of Birmingham’s cultural scene in the 30s with writer David Lodge.
Ghost Box present the Sunday finale of haunted electronica, spooky 70s telly and cult soundtracks at the Belbury Youth Club.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (dir: Werner Herzog) – Herzog and Nicolas Cage take the action-movie in unexpected new directions.
Viral/ Youtube Auteurs – includes screening of Down Terrace, feature debut by viral advertising whiz Ben Wheatley, a UK gangster flick with a touch of Mike Leigh. Wheatley has built a reputation making web skits for various ad campaigns and will be introducing his film. Hugh Cooney is a one-man film oddity, performing opposite himself on screen to hilarious effect. Here he’ll perform his Info Processor piece from a box, producing framed art on request. Literally.
Dogs in Space (dir: Richard Lowenstein) – UK premiere of restored Australian cult classic, featuring Michael Hutchence. Accompanied by a new film from the same director about Melbourne’s Eighties post-punk scene.
The Cameraman (dir: Buster Keaton) – with live piano accompaniment.
A screening of John Waters trash classic Pink Flamingos starring Queen of Celluloid Divine, accompanied by the UK premiere of the Waters-inspired BOY by Ssion.
Puppet films of all shapes and sizes, including work by young Swedish talent Johannes Nyholm and classic shorts from Jiri Trnka and Georges Pal.
Best Worst Movie – At last it can be told! The true story behind the atrocious horror film Troll 2, and how it was embraced as a cult classic.
Colour Box – Flatpack’s family film strand brings a classic Irish text to life with Brendan and the Secret of Kells (dir: Tomm Moore) a chance to animate your own vegetable with one of the creators of CBBCs OOglies, and brings Dr Seuss’s insane vision to the big screen with the frighteningly fun musical The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T (dir: Roy Rowland).
To coincide with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the BFI are presenting a season of previous adaptations of the story, including the first-ever film version of Lewis Carroll’s tale, recently restored by the BFI National Archive. Made just 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema, the adaptation was directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, and was based on Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations.
With a running time of just 12 minutes (8 of which survive), Alice in Wonderland was the longest film produced in England at that time. Film archivists have been able to restore the film’s original colours for the first time in over 100 years.