Electric Sheep‘s pick of the best filmic events, screenings, festivals and retrospectives in 2011.
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1972 - East End Film Festival, May 2011)
The recent passing of Ken Russell adds retrospective poignancy to the screening of his flamboyant masterpiece, restored to its full glory, at the East End Film Festival in April. The director attended the screening and was given a standing ovation by a rapturous packed auditorium. Vilified by parts of the critical establishment and struggling to find funding in later years, Ken Russell could be as silly and camp as audacious and visionary and we will be paying homage to his anarchic spirit in March next year, to mark the DVD release of The Devils.
Scala Forever (13 August - 2 October 2011)
Electric Sheep was very proud to be involved in Scala Forever, the celebration of the legendary Scala cinema across a range of London venues organised by the Roxy Bar and Screen. We presented a sold-out screening of Thundercrack! (1975, dir Curt Mcdowell, starring and written by George Kuchar), followed by a talk with former Scala programmer Jane Giles and horror maestro Kim Newman on September 20 at the Horse Hospital. The rest of the excellent Scala Forever programme included John Waters, Dario Argento, Russ Meyer and Fassbinder nights, a Turkish Grindhouse evening, a Jack Smith programme, a screening of one of our favourite 60s Italian exploitation films The Frightened Woman, and much more.
Flatpack (23-27 March 2011, Birmingham)
Inventively and energetically curated, Flatpack offers a stimulating mix of offbeat delights, forgotten gems, animation and experimental film in unusual settings, exploring the connections between art, music, history, place and film. Intelligent and fun, it guides audiences through enchanting cinematic adventures off the beaten path. The festival returns from 13 to 18 March 2012.
Theatre Scorpio (Close-Up) + Shinjuku in London (BFI Southbank) - July-August 2011
The summer’s seasons focusing on The Art Theatre Guild of Japan offered a unique chance to see works from the 1960s and 70s Japanese independent and experimental film scene. The Close-Up screenings of Masao Adachi’s cryptic, surreal Galaxy and Katsu Kanai’s delirious dreamscape The Desert Archipelago (1969), the latter in the presence of the director, were particularly memorable nights.
The Dybbuk (dir. Michal Waszynski, Poland 1937 - Kinoteka, 5 April 2011)
Now here’s exotica: a supernatural drama filmed in Poland, on the brink of the Holocaust, entirely in Yiddish, in 1937. You won’t see many like this. Michal Waszynski’s The Dybbuk is as rich and strange an artefact as any aficionado of fantastic cinema could hope for. It overflows with esoteric rituals, customs and superstitions, some of which seem unfamiliar even to the characters on screen: there’s numerology, bits of Kabbalah, odd bursts of song and poetic turns of phrase, mannered acting, and vaudeville schtick. To a decided non-believer, this comes across as a weird little bubble of cinema, both familiar and strange, a film overlaid with real tragedy, created by artists long disappeared, dispersed and destroyed, but one still brimming with life and soul and artistry.