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.
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 Repulsionhere.
Next screening: WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL – Battle Royale
‘I Fought the Law’ – The winter 09 issue of Electric Sheep looks at what makes a cinematic outlaw: read about the misdeeds of low-life gangsters, gentlemen thieves, deadly females, modern terrorists, cop killers and vigilantes, bikers and banned filmmakers.
The magazine is no longer available and we are no longer published by Wallflower Press.
Also in this issue: interview with John Hillcoat about his adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the art of Polish posters according to Andrzej Klimowski, Andrew Cartmel discusses The Prisoner and noir comic strips!
This month’s Electric Sheep podcast is a Raindance Film Festival special, of which we are proud to be a partner. Alex Fitch was granted an interview with Peter Greenaway after the British premiere of his new film Nightwatching at the festival. They discuss the crossover between filmmaking and fine art and the master painter Rembrandt’s position as a pioneer of both.
This podcast also includes Alex Fitch’s Q&As with director Guy Ducker about his short film Lover’s Lane + with the filmmakers David Boaretto and Charles-Henri Belleville and members of the cast of the new British basketball film Midnight Madness.
Alex Fitch talks to curator Lydia Yee about The Martian Museum of Terrestrial art, an anthropological look at modern art currently on display at The Barbican in London. Mixing famous and not so famous examples of modern art from the last 50 years with a tongue-i- cheek audio guide and layout that recalls The Hitch-hiker’s guide to the Galaxy, the exhibition uses sci-fi text and graphics to provide an unusual look at a difficult subject.