Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Wicker Man will beckon pilgrims to Bristol

The Wicker Man
For all its beauty, the countryside can be a sinister place. Folk legends, myths and characters form the backbone of village life… and death.

Folklore has influenced much music, literature and drama, with Robin Hardy’s 1973 film The Wicker Man being one of the beacons of the genre. The film will be the centerpiece of an expanded event that brings rural myth into place into the centre of Bristol on 23-25 September.

Equinox is described as a ‘pilgrimage’ of folk tales, pagan myths and legends. It is being organised by Compass Presents in partnership with the BFI’s Britain on Film season.

Equinox is an archive film trail in which footage of strange rural happenings can be discovered in the hidden nooks and crannies of the wild gardens of Boiling Wells. Audiences can also expect to encounter questionable characters; pagan headed ushers, naked frollikers in the foliage and wicker-weaving witches along their way.

The archive trail, which uses clips provided by South West Film Television Archive, will culminate in a screening of The Wicker Man in an outdoor amphitheatre.

This event is part of a national programme of film curated to raise awareness of the BFI archives and in particular the BFI player; an online, free to use resource where you can view snippets of archive clips from all over the UK as well as the south west; Tales of Norfolk’s infamous devil hound Black Shuck, the notorious Hobgoblins of the Yorkshire Moors... What will you discover?  

Tara Sachdeva, director of Compass Presents said: “Compass are thrilled to be working with the BFI to curate an event for their Britain on Film season. The BFI archive is a vast, rich, untapped resource and we're really excited to be using that resource to present a night of cinema and experience that we hope film fans in Bristol won't forget.”

For more details and to book your tickets visit compasspresents.com  

Supported by the South West Film Hub, The Wicker Man will also be screened at other participating venues across the South West.

Compass Presents is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that creates immersive environments, enhanced screenings, and interactive encounters. Over the past nine years it has mixed film, visual art, digital content, music and performance to present art from new perspectives. Its previous cinematic event in Bristol, The Caligari Experience, earned Compass Presents a 2015 Media Innovation Award for best event.

David Oyelowo to address Black Star Symposium

David Oyelowo
British actor and producer David Oyelowo will be the lead speaker at the BFI London Film Festival’s headline industry event, the Black Star Symposium, which takes place on Thursday 6 October at BFI Southbank. 

Oyelowo will be launching the Black Star Symposium the morning after the LFF opens with the European Premiere of Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, in which he stars. He will be joined by British and international actors, filmmakers and thought-leaders who will explore why opportunities for black actors to shine on screen in the US and the UK remain limited, and debate what more can be done to effect positive change.

Oyelowo, who also stars in the Festival’s Virgin Atlantic Gala presentation of Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe (European Premiere), is an articulate advocate for changing the framework of opportunities for black talent and for reversing the historical lack of recognition for their achievements. “I'm really hopeful we're about to segue from talking about diversity to actually doing it,” he said.

The LFF Black Star Symposium heralds the UK’s biggest celebration of black screen actors and the BFI’s cultural focus for 2016 – BFI BLACK STAR – launching immediately after the Festival and celebrating the achievements of black actors from the earliest years of cinema through to current icons. 

New research
The BFI’s creative director Heather Stewart will unveil the initial phase of research about the representation of black actors in British films. The first findings focus on films released in the UK over the past ten years (2006-2016).

We are working towards a complete data set from the beginnings of British cinema to today, to understand what has changed both on screen and behind the camera,” said Stewart. We want to make the data available – as both a tool and a mirror – for everyone who is in a position to say ‘yes’ to new creativity and new opportunities. It will help shape what funders, policy makers, producers, directors and writers think about when they are making decisions in a world where audiences hope for so much more than they are offered.”

The panels
Following David Oyelowo’s opening address, guest filmmakers and film industry leaders will take part in two panel discussions. The first panel will focus on the opportunities available to, and the obstacles faced by, black actors in the US and the UK; the types of roles and the kinds of stories being told; the politics vs. the reality of ‘colour-blind’ casting; and the differences between the film and TV sectors in the respective territories.

The second panel will discuss development and green-lighting barriers, consider how to stimulate change within media agencies, funding bodies and production companies and examine whether more diverse and inclusive creative and management teams lead to a wider variety of productions and more representative stories on-screen.

Key speakers
London-born writer and director Amma Asante, whose film A United Kingdom starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike has its European Premiere as the Festival’s Opening Gala, has championed a vision for making more diverse stories. A United Kingdom is the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments. Her first film A Way of Life (LFF 2004) offered an insight into racism whilst five young adolescents struggle to cling to their dreams. Belle told the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, born in the West Indies and the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of the nephew of William Murray, the First Earl of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice of England.  

Actor, producer and director Noel Clarke is one of the UK’s leading stars of British film and television production spanning the BBC’s blockbuster series Doctor Who to indie films including and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. As a screenwriter Clarke’s ‘hood’ trilogy Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood (which he also directed and is currently on release in the UK) broke new ground in reflecting British urban youth culture.

Julie Dash is a filmmaker, author and member of the LA Rebellion film movement of African and African-American filmmakers who graduated from AFI (American Film institute’s conservatory) and also UCLA and created a black cinema alternative to Hollywood. Her first feature Daughters of the Dust (1991), a portrait of three generations of Gullah women (descendants of West African slaves) at the turn of the 20th century, was the first feature-length film by an African-American woman released theatrically in the US and the UK (where it was distributed by the BFI).  In 2004 it was inducted into the National Film Registry.  A new restoration – courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive – is being presented at the LFF in association with Mobo Film.

Barry Jenkins is the writer and director of Moonlight, which focuses on the themes of finding oneself and overcoming adversity in black America today. His first film, Medicine for Melancholy (LFF 2008), earned him many fans, including Brad Pitt who is an executive producer on Moonlight. Screening in Official Competition at the LFF, Jenkins’ sophomore film is highly anticipated as the industry looks to the awards season. 

David Oyelowo stars in both the Festival’s Opening Night film Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom (European Premiere) and it’s Virgin Atlantic Gala presentation of Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe (European Premiere). Oyelowo is a classically trained actor who made his mark on the world cinema stage as Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oscar-nominated drama Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt’s Plan B.  He has also starred in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, Simon Brand’s Default and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  

He has most recently starred in and produced Paramount’s true-life crime thriller Captive and the independent drama Five Nights In Maine. On stage as Henry V, he was also the first black actor to play an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company and his television performances include the BAFTA award-winning Spooks, HBO’s Five Days, ABC’s A Raisin in the Sun and Small Island for which he was won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor starring opposite Naomie Harris.

Karen Blackett OBE, chairwoman of MediaCom UK, has been instrumental not only in the success of MediaCom, the largest media agency in the UK,  but in championing diversity throughout the advertising and media industry and recently  was named as one of the Evening Standards Progress 1000, London’s most influential people of 2015.

Ramy El-Bergamy. On-Screen Diversity Executive at Channel 4, has worked in the independent television across a broad range of programmes and genres including Big Brother and The Voice and is focusing on ensuring the best people are being recruited onscreen for Channel 4 programmes from the widest possible pool across all genres

Ben Roberts is director of the BFI’s Film Fund which has supported films including A United Kingdom, Belle and Half Of A Yellow Sun

Heather Stewart, creative director of the BFI, auspiced the Black Star programme and the accompanying research project.

Clare Stewart, festival director, BFI London Festival said, “We want to amplify the ambitions and the purpose of the Black Star programme at the Festival, not only to celebrate black acting achievements, but to ask the searching questions that underpin this season. Questions about opportunity and aspiration, about the power to decide. Questions that have become increasingly urgent over the course of this year, intensified by the Black Lives Matter movement and by world events, including those closer to home.”

The Black Star Symposium follows 2015’s Global Symposium on Gender in Media, in partnership with The Geena Davis Institute and Women in Film and TV, with Geena Davis delivering a keynote speech raising the agenda internationally on the lack of gender balance in front of, and behind the camera, in the film and TV industries and the importance of committing to strategies for positive change.

The Dodge Brothers team up with Neil Brand

The Ghost That Never Returns
The autumn season of the Barbican’s long-running Silent Film & Live Music series opens on 25 September an afternoon double bill comprising The Ghost That Never Returns and Hell’s Hinges with live musical accompaniment by The Dodge Brothers featuring Neil Brand.

Abram Room’s The Ghost That Never Returns (1929) is a Russian drama set in an unnamed South American country, where labour leader José Real is jailed for his activism at an oil well. But when the police graciously release him for one day of freedom with his family, they try to use it as pretext to kill him.

Hell’s Hinges (1916) is a US western which sees a preacher arrive at the sin-ridden town of Hell's Hinges with his sister and finds himself up against a gunslinger tries force them out of town. Co-director WS Hart, one-time highest grossing star of the silver screen, plays Blaze Tracey, bad guy turned good by the love of a true woman.

The Dodge Brothers, firmly rooted in the traditions of classic Americana, play an exuberant hybrid of country blues, rockabilly, and skiffle. They feature Mike Hammond on lead guitar and banjo, Aly Hirji on rhythm guitar and mandolin, Alex Hammond on percussion, and film critic Mark Kermode on bass and harmonica. For this performance at Barbican, the band is fronted by Neil Brand, one of the UK’s foremost pianists for silent film and well known as a TV presenter on BBC4.