In the latest Electric Sheep podcast, we’re looking at two films by female directors that deal with issues of absence and loss. Alex Fitch talks to director Sophie Barthes about her film Cold Souls, a Kaufman-esque science fiction comedy about soul-trafficking starring Paul Giamatti, and to Mirjam Van Veelan about her documentary Megumi, about the kidnap of a Japanese girl – Megumi Yokota – in 1977 by North Korea (with thanks to The Barbican for arranging the interview with Mirjam).
WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL, Prince Charles Cinema 8pm : BATTLE ROYALE
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.
Watch the trailer:
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).
Listen to Alex Fitch’s podcast for Sci-Fi London, Reality Check: Directing low budget science-fiction films (Part 1). In a panel discussion recorded live at last year’s London Science Fiction and Fantastic Film Festival, Alex Fitch discusses the many aspects of creating convincing SF scenarios on film with a quartet of eminent low-budget film directors – Marc Caro (Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children), Stuart Hazeldine (Exam), Cory McAbee (Stingray Sam), Gerald McMorrow (Franklyn) and Richard Jobson (A Woman in Winter). Part 2 will be online shortly. Both parts to be broadcast 17/03/10 as an hour-long ‘clear spot’ on Resonance 104.4 FM.
Watch an episode of Stingray Sam:
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.
ART BY CHANCE is the brand new “Ultra Short Film Festival” that will be aired in May 2010 all around the world. Films will meet with us unexpected, non-theatrical venues around the world on digital advertising screens located inside metros, busses, railways, public transport. We have selected three films from last year’s festival that we really like. See below for details of how to submit your short film.
ART BY CHANCE is opened to movies of all kinds; fiction, animation, documentary and video art with the exception of training and advertising films. Enthusiastic and creative international filmmakers will be preparing 30-second long films on ‘Time’. Participants can also submit online from www.artbychance.org.
WEDNESDAY 10 MARCH, Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm+ 8pm : Guy Maddin Double Bill: CAREFUL + THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD
We celebrate the genius of Guy Maddin, who over the last two decades has developed an entirely personal and always enchanting world, poetic, macabre and playful in equal measures.
A delirious silent-style homage to the German mountain film of the 1920s, Careful takes place in a village whose inhabitants must talk in whispers for fear of triggering an avalanche. In such a repressed environment, forbidden passions and incestuous desires dangerously come close to boiling point. This is a very rare occasion to see Maddin’s feverish mountain extravaganza on the big screen.
In The Saddest Music in the World, a musical set in Winnipeg, Isabella Rossellini’s crippled baroness holds a contest to find the saddest music performer on earth. Eccentric musical interludes alternate with a convoluted story of complicated love triangles, familial rivalries and buried past traumas, the outlandish melodrama shot through with exquisitely strange details (glass legs filled with beer!) and deadpan humour. Hilarious, dreamlike and full of wonders, this is a film like no other. Watch and be amazed!
FILM WRITING COMPETITION:
Film students and aspiring film writers are invited to enter our film writing competition: write a 200-word review of Careful or The Saddest Music in the World and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, marked ‘Film writing competition’ in the subject line. We are delighted to announce that Greg Klymkiv, the producer of Careful, will select the best review. Deadline: Thursday 25 March. The selected review will be published on the Electric Sheep website in April. This is a regular feature of the Electric Sheep Film Club. You can read the winning review of Repulsion here.
SATURDAY 6 FEBRUARY, Notting Hill Arts Club, 8pm : THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA + live DJ rescore by DJ DOWNFALL
Electric Sheep hosts an afternoon of film, music and comics as part of Rough Trade Shops’ RoTa afternoons.
The earliest film version of the legendary figure and one of the first silent horror films, The Phantom of the Opera (1925) stars the great Lon Chaney as the horribly disfigured Erik who leads a secret and lonely existence beneath the Paris Opera. After falling in love with a beautiful young singer, he holds her prisoner in his underground lair. Darkly poetic and full of visual delights, the film creates a startling world of nightmarish beauty while Chaney superbly brings out the terrible humanity of the monster.
The film will be shown with a live DJ rescore by DJ Downfall.
Courtesy of Eureka Entertainment
+ WE ARE WORDS + PICTURES COMICS STALL
We Are Words + Pictures are a London-based team of illustrators and writers who bring comics to new readers through events, workshops, publications and market stalls. WAW+P will be bringing illustrator Anna Saunders to Electric Sheep Subterranea, where she’ll be drawing alongside the screening, as well as a selection of ‘zines and comics, which will be on sale in the bar. WAW+P are contributors to the new anthology Solipsistic Pop edited by Eagle Award winner Tom Humberstone, which aims to showcase the best in current British small press and underground comic books, and will be available for sale at the event.
+DJS AND SHORT FILMS
WEDNESDAY 10 FEBRUARY, Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm : Twisted Valentine screening: KISS ME DEADLY
Here’s your antidote to forthcoming Valentine soppiness: promising ‘red-blood kisses’ and ‘white-hot thrills’, Kiss Me Deadly is a noir classic that has lost none of its power to shock and surprise. Private investigator Mike Hammer, a thuggish, macho anti-hero, is drawn into a bottomless pit of conspiracy and corruption after picking up a mysterious and beautiful hitch-hiker. Exposing the black soul of America in the atomic age, this is as hard-boiled as it gets.
FILM WRITING COMPETITION:
Film students and aspiring film writers are invited to enter our film writing competition: write a 200-word review of Kiss Me Deadly and send it to email@example.com, marked ‘Film writing competition’ in the subject line. Jason Wood, director of programming at Curzon Cinemas, film journalist and author of 100 American Independent Films and 100 Road Movies among others, will select the best review. Deadline: Thursday 25 February. The selected review will be published on the Electric Sheep website in March. This is a regular feature of the Electric Sheep Film Club. You can read November’s winning review of Repulsion here.
Alex Fitch interviews celebrated actress Susannah York about her career, focusing on her performances in war-themed productions and her interest in peace activism. York talks about her narration for the 1987 Channel 4 TV series The Struggles for Poland, writing the wartime drama Falling in Love Again, her iconic role in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and using her reputation and theatre tours to promote the work of the Movement for the Abolition of War.
Partially broadcast 13/01/10 as part of a ‘Clear Spot’ on Resonance 104.4 FM
For more info about the variety of formats in which you can download/stream this podcast, please visit archive.org