Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Film London invests in youth engagement and film educator training
Film London is investing in the next generation of cinema goers through two new initiatives: a youth engagement scheme led by Film Hub London, and a training course for film educators funded by Creative Skillset.

Film Hub London has awarded £50,000 to a consortium of organisations, led by Picturehouse Cinemas, to deliver Cinemania, a collaborative programme aiming to increase the engagement of young audiences with a wide variety of film across the capital. Film Hub London, led by Film London, is a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), a four-year initiative working to grow audiences for cultural film across the UK. 

Activity is planned in 11 London boroughs and comprises of the following 12 cinemas:
  • ArtHouse Crouch End
  • Barbican
  • Cineworld Feltham
  • Clapham Picturehouse
  • Greenwich Picturehouse
  • Hackney Picturehouse
  • Lexi Cinema
  • Phoenix Cinema
  • Stratford Picturehouse
  • The Gate Cinema
  • Rio Cinema
  • The ICA
The consortium will also partner with film education charity Into Film plus organisations including London International Animation Festival. The 8-10 month project will implement a mix of programming and training to engage young people between the ages of 12 and 24 with a particular focus on targeting marginalised groups who do not regularly visit the cinema.

The scheme was developed as a response to the challenges exhibitors face in engaging young people with the capital’s diverse offering of cinema, a key issue highlighted by consultation with the exhibition sector during Film London’s development of Film Hub London.

Clare Binns, director of programming & acquisitions at Picturehouse Cinemas said “Picturehouse cinemas always strive to bring an exciting, challenging and varied programme of films to our audiences and put local communities at the heart of what we do. Engaging young audiences and giving them the opportunity to develop their cinematic experiences is a crucial part of this.”

Cultivate: Inspiring Future Audiences, led by Film London with funding from Creative Skillset, is the third edition of the UK’s only training course dedicated to developing the skills of film education professionals working in exhibition. Applications are now open with a deadline of 31 October 2014.

The London-based course, facilitated by film education consultant Corinna Downing, will run from 14- 16 January 2015 and will focus on developing the skills of film exhibitors at all stages of their career. Participants will benefit from the expertise of industry practitioners, who will present case studies, run practical sessions and give bespoke guidance tailored to reflect the attendees’ needs.

Bursaries to help cover some of the course fees, travel and accommodation will be available to participants thanks to support from the BFI Film Audience Network.

Rebecca Davies, film partnership manager at Creative Skillset, said The introduction of Cultivate succeeded in filling a gap in training provision for film exhibitors who wanted to reach out to young people and make a real difference to their film education provision for our audiences of the future.  This is our third year of support and we have seen a fantastic array of inspired projects and collaborations spring up across venues as a result of this programme.”

Film Hub London, managed by Film London, is a four-year project investing £800,000 lottery funding as part of the BFI Film Audience Network. Expanding film culture in London with a particular focus on underserved audiences in the outer boroughs, Film Hub London has a collaborative membership of over 150 commercial and independent cinemas, film clubs, pop-up venues and community groups.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commissio, added : “With these initiatives, Film London and Film Hub London’s ambition is to lay the groundwork for a new generation of engaged, inquisitive and enlightened film audiences. This activity is an integral part of our ongoing commitment to nurturing a thriving film culture in the capital, as young people are vital to an effective and sustainable audience development strategy.”

George Clooney to receive Cecil B DeMille Award at Golden Globes

George Clooney
George Clooney is to receive an honorary award at next year’s Golden Globes, which will be presented in Hollywood on 11 January 2015. The Golden Globes are organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which says it is celebrating Clooney’s outstanding contributions both “in front of and behind the camera”.

The 53-year-old actor, producer and director has won four Golden Globes during his career and now Clooney will be presented with the 2015 Cecil B. DeMille Award.

The Cecil B DeMille Award is given annually to those who have made an impact on the world of entertainment. Recent recipients include Woody Allen (2014), Jodie Foster (2013), Morgan Freeman, (2012), Robert De Niro (2011), Martin Scorsese (2010), Steven Spielberg (2009), Warren Beatty (2007), Anthony Hopkins (2006), Robin Williams (2005), Michael Douglas (2004), Gene Hackman (2003), Harrison Ford (2002), Al Pacino (2001), and Barbra Streisand (2000).

Last year Clooney appeared in Gravity and, through his Smokehouse production company, he recently produced, directed and starred in The Monuments Men. He will soon be seen starring in the upcoming sci-fi film Tomorrowland for Disney.

Clooney’s achievements as a performer and a filmmaker have earned him four Golden Globes, two Academy Awards, four SAG Awards, one BAFTA award, two Critics’ Choice Awards, an Emmy and four National Board of Review Awards.

He is also being recognised as for his global humanitarian efforts as well as accomplishments in the entertainment industry. In 2006, Clooney and his father, Nick, went to drought-stricken Darfur, Africa, to film the documentary Journey to Darfur. The following year Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Jerry Weintraub founded Not On Our Watch, an organization whose mission is to focus global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities in Darfur. 

Clooney’s humanitarian efforts in Darfur saw him presented was the 2007 Peace Summit Award at the eighth World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. In 2008, Clooney was designated a UN Messenger of Peace, one of eight individuals chosen to advocate its peacekeeping efforts. Two years later, Clooney, along with Joel Gallen and Tenth Planet Productions, produced the Hope for Haiti Now! telethon, raising more than $66 million.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Clooney with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award and later that year, Clooney received the Robert F Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award for his dedication to humanitarian efforts in Sudan and Haiti.

Sophia Al-Maria tells story of struggle to make a movie

The Watchers No.1-5
The Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria is presenting an exhibition at Manchester’s Cornerhouse this autumn. Curated by Omar Kholief, Virgin With a Memory showcases new works by the artist, filmmaker and author.

The exhibition draws on Al-Maria’s struggle to make her first feature film, Beretta. A mix of video, photography and text pieces, the work is in the vein of explorations the filmmaking process such as Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams (1982), about the making of Werner Herzog’s Amazonian fable Fitzcarraldo, and Eleanor Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991), about the making of the Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now.

What differentiates Al-Maria’s production from those classic films is that the account has been assembled by the filmmaker themselves.

Beretta follows its mute heroine Suad on a killing spree in which she murders men who harass her and other women. The rape-revenge cycle is often maligned as an exploitative genre, however Al-Maria aims to give it gravity by placing it in the context of contemporary Egypt. Both an homage to cult cinema and a call to arms, Beretta is not only the story of a mute woman pushed to extremes by her environment, but the story of a country that was raped and degraded by its governments, culminating in revolt.

New five-channel video installation The Watchers No. 1-5 (2014) evokes the all-seeing male gaze with a reenactment of a dream sequence in the script for Beretta. Conceived as ‘deleted scenes’ from the unmade movie, it will form the centerpiece of Virgin With A Memory, presenting a nightmarish cavalcade of aggressive male scrutiny. Using sweeping searchlights and an ominous, droning soundtrack, the actors cast represent the five male villains in Beretta’s script. Departing from the film’s original plot, the men are shown in an abstract plane existing on eternal vigil and acting as gatekeepers to the final realization of Beretta.

The exhibition will also feature four new pseudo-documentary works relating directly to the production of the film. Class A (2014) is a video-ode to Beretta actress Dina Sherbini who was jailed before filming began, Slaughter (2013) is culled from the first footage shot during the 2012 Eid al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), Your Sister (2014) is a fake music video collaged by the film’s art-department to play on a background television in Beretta, and finally, Evil Eye (2014), a direct response to the farcical issues faced during the seemingly-cursed development stage of making Beretta.

Lastly, Virgin With A Memory: The Exhibition Tie-In is the novelised version of the script for Beretta. This element of the exhibition is predicated on Al-Maria’s idea that in today’s challenging environment for independent cinema, the only way to achieve an unadulterated director’s cut of any film is to write it as a novel version, making it one’s own property. Darker and more introspective than the visual medium of film allows, the novel is written from the perspective of Suad and is interspersed with entries from Al-Maria’s production diary. It also features production research, emails, budgets, kit-lists, schedules, sketches, storyboards, headshots and excerpts from the shooting script. Published by Cornerhouse and The Third Line, Virgin With A Memory: The Exhibition Tie-In is edited by Omar Kholeif, available on display as part of the exhibition and on sale in the Cornerhouse bookshop.

The Watchers No.1-5
Sophia Al-Maria rose to fame with her memoir The Girl Who Fell to Earth (Harper Collins, 2012). Born in Tacoma to an American mother and Bedouin father, the novel explores the contrasting worlds that brought her parents together, and the polarising effect of belonging to both America and the Arab world on a young person at the turn of the 21st century. With a strong interest in petro-politics and popular culture in the post-oil Gulf, Al-Maria coined the term Gulf Futurism to form a critique of the potential dystopian future facing the Gulf. Marked by a deranged optimism about late capitalism and a fatalistic world view based on the unsustainability of oil reserves, Gulf Futurism is evident in the agenda of those with vested interests in a region whose ruling class is more concerned with master planning and world building, while the youth culture lives in nihilistic contrast, preoccupied with capitalist consumption, technology and ultra-violence

Al-Maria studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work has been exhibited the New Museum in New Yor, and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Her writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, Five Dials, Triple Canopy, and Bidoun.

She coined the phrase ‘Gulf Futurism’ to describe a form of architecture, urban planning, art, aesthetics and popular culture in the Persian Gulf. She explores these themes in her memoir The Girl Who Fell To Earth and Scout, her entry for the 2012 Gwangju Biennale, a sculpture and sound installation which makes use of an Arabic excerpt from the 1977 Voyager spacecraft’s golden record of sounds from Earth and its inhabitants.

Virgin With a Memory runs at the Cornerhouse, Manchester, until 2 November.