Son Of Saul Hungary 2015

Screening daily from Friday 29th
Introduction and panel discussion Sunday 1st May 5pm

Son Of Saul

There have been countless essays written about cinematic representations of the Holocaust; are the Academy Award winning depictions by Steven Spielberg or Roberto Benigni truly important? or just trite exploitation? Is it ever OK to make a fiction film about the awful events that happened in places like Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka?

Son of Saul director, Laszlo Nemes, himself a film school graduate, has made a film that places him into this ongoing conversation, and sees his debut as, among other things, a critique of established popular representations. In an interview with The New York Times, Nemes reveals his antithetical approach “Since the end of the Second World War I’ve seen very clearly that many people more or less consider the Holocaust as a mythical story and approached it probably from a defensive mechanism, as a way to get away from it through survival stories. I don’t think Auschwitz and the extermination of the European Jews was about survival. It was about death. And how Europe killed itself, committed suicide.”

But Son of Saul, now an Oscar winner itself (Best Foreign Language Film 88th Academy Awards) has been met with its own share of criticism. Manohla Dargis for The New York Times called the film “Intellectually repellent”, Michael Koresky in Reverse Shot described it as being “grotesque and exploitative” and Stefan Grissemann in Film Comment similarly sees it as exploitation; writing “In its pursuit of controversy, Son of Saul plumbs unforeseeably new depths of revulsion.”

The film does, however, have a surprising but powerful supporter in Claude Lanzmann, director of the revered holocaust documentary, Shoah (1985). Lanzmann has criticised other films for dramatising the horrors of death camps, yet has given Son of Saul his approval, praising it as an “anti-Schindler’s List”

Son of Saul first played at Hyde Park Picture House as part of the Leeds International Film Festival last November, where it didn’t quite manage to rank in the audience top 10. Yet looking at Twitter, it definitely had its fair share of supporters in the audiences, and although I’m undecided on how I feel about the suspense plotline, I have to recommend it for Géza Röhrig’s central performance, the impressive stark sound design and for the arresting shallow focus cinematography by Mátyás Erdély.

Son of Saul screens daily from Friday 29th of April. The Sunday screening at 5pm will include an introduction by Dr Dominic Williams (University of Leeds), co-author of a recent book about the Sonderkommando as well as a post-film panel discussion with Prof. Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Prof. Sue Vice (University of Sheffield) and Gary Spicer (Stockport College).

Philosophy and Film: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Tuesday 26th April 6:15pm

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

The second session of the Philosophy and Film series at the Hyde Park Picture House will show Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), directed by Michel Gondry, with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman.  Eternal Sunshine is about an unhappy estranged couple, Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey), who separately decide to have their tormented memories of their failed affair deleted by a professional service, Lacuna Inc. Then they accidentally meet again, not knowing who they are.

Here’s one idea. We’ve all had bad experiences, and bad memories of those experiences. They can make us feel defeated, depressed, even paralyzed. Wouldn’t we be better off without them? Here’s another idea. Our memories naturally decay. By and large, we don’t think this is a tragedy. It protects us against being entombed in the past, and leaves us free to live in the present, and to plan for the future. But if this forgetting doesn’t ruin us, and may even benefit us, then why would it be a bad idea, if we could, to take deliberate steps to erase these memories? And, if it turns out that it would be a bad idea to deliberately erase our memories, then should we try to fight against the natural processes of decay? The film obliquely explores ideas like these in a variety of ways, and from a variety of angles. Dr. Gerald Lang (University of Leeds) will be talking about them after the screening of the film.

This Week At The Picture House

underground_02

It’s quite an interesting week at the cinema (isn’t it always?). There are a few more chances to catch High-Rise and Anomalisa, two films which seem to be splitting audience opinions between love and hate. The Coen Brothers latest Hail, Caesar! gets its first run at the Picture House along with beautiful and haunting The Pearl Button. The screening of The Pearl Button on Thursday 7th April will be followed by a recorded Q&A with the film’s director, recorded last month at Home, Manchester.

On Saturday at 4pm there’s chance to see Harmonieband perform live their wonderful new score to Anthony Asquith classic  Underground (1928) which is sure to delight first time viewers and old fans alike.

On Monday there’s a rare chance to see this year’s Oscar nominees for Animated Short on the big screen. I’m sure all nine films are great but personally I’m looking forward to finally seeing World Of Tomorrow a film I’ve heard so many good things about.

Tuesday’s Wonder is This Is Exile (2015), an extraordinary, intimate portrait of child refugees forced to flee from the violence of Syria’s civil war to neighbouring Lebanon. The film will be followed by a panel discussion and the screening is a “pay as you feel” event to raise money for Amnesty International and Save The Children.

Philosophy and Film: Badlands

Showing Tuesday 22nd March 6:15pm

badlands
Badlands (1973)

Terrence Malick’s directorial film follows two young lovers on a road trip across South Dakota, as they kill people along the way. It is a beautiful film, and touches upon many things that will occupy Malick throughout his career – nature, wonder, innocence, love and morality.

Dr. Joe Saunders (University of Leeds) will provide a short talk after the film, exploring Malick’s treatment of love and morality. This will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

This is the inaugural session of a philosophy and film series at the Hyde Park Picture House. The series explores philosophical issues raised by some of cinema’s most engaging films.

Keswick Film Festival

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Long before I joined the Friends of Hyde Park Picture House committee I got involved with Keswick Film Club and their annual film festival. I grew up near Keswick in the Lake District and the film club played a big part in enlightening me on the wonders of art house cinema.

Now in it’s 17th year Keswick Film Festival starts on Thursday and runs through until Sunday. There are 29 films spread across themes such as Best Of The Fests, highlighting popular films from other festivals such as The Assassin (2015), The Wolfpack (2015) and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2015). The Jazz theme includes a 35mm screening of Round Midnight (1986), one of the more authentic and affectionate presentations of the jazz world on the silver screen. Four films look at Memory in different ways including Imaginaerium (2015), a gothic fantasy based on the music Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish and described as a visual and aural spectacle. Another film dealing with Memory is Karen Guthrie’s The Closer We Get (also showing at the Picture House on Tuesday 1st March). Described by Mark Kermode as “a poignant examination of the bonds of family love”, Karen will be at Keswick to introduce and talk about her personal film.

Two other female directors will also be at the festival with their films. On Friday, British novelist Helen Walsh’s The Violators (2015) is “an intriguing directorial debut with a class-crossing tale of teen ennui” (Variety). Lapse Of Honour (2015) from Rayna Campbell is a gritty urban drama based in Manchester’s Moss Side and sees MOBO nominated rapper Lady Leshurr makes a seamless move into film. There are 13 other films at the festival directed by women and many more F-Rated films featuring significant roles for women both behind and in front of the camera.

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Friends’ Christmas Screening – Scrooge, Sunday 13th December

Members  of the Friends Of Hyde Park Picture House are cordially invited to an afternoon of festival celebration on Sunday 13th December.

Doors will open at 1:45pm for a 2pm presentation by Julia Thomason from David Clarke Associates, the consultancy firm the Picture House is working with to develop a plan for the future of the building. From 2:15pm we’ll  be serving  sherry and mince pies and there will be time for questions and discussion on the future of the Picture House.

At 3pm our feature presentation is the 1951 version of SCROOGE starring Alastair Sim – possibly the most famous retelling of Dickens’ classic tale of an old miser given the chance to change his ways one bitter and cold Christmas Eve.

Scrooge

Tickets are free to members but please RSVP by Monday 7th December to wendy@hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk, via the Facebook event or by letting the box office know you wish to attend. Non-members are welcome to attend the screening section of the afternoon though they must purchase a ticket as per a normal screening.

There are also a number of other Christmas films showing in December including  Joyeux Noël (Sat 5th), Muppets Christmas Carol (Sat 12th & Sun 20th), Home Alone (Sat 19th) and from Friday 19th two quite different films taking place on Christmas Eve, Tangerine and of course It’s A Wonderful Life.

London and Leeds Film Festivals

Jake Baldwinson reports back from the London Film Festival and looks forward to Leeds annual film festival next month.

London Film Festival

Last Friday saw the launch of the Leeds International Film Festival programme. Now, I would normally spend the following weekend poring over the free guide, working out a schedule for my filmgoing highlight of the year. This time around, however, I was attending part of  the BFI London Film Festival. I ended up packing in 7 films over a hectic couple of days, including two that have been selected for the Leeds Film Festival this year.

What I find exciting about attending a film festival, even if just for a day or two, is experiencing a melting pot of different narrative voices in a short period of time. On my Saturday in London, I went to 4 screenings; beginning with a fiction feature set in Mexico, shot in an eye-catching circular frame using innovative techniques by the filmmakers. I then finished with a documentary about a culture under threat in Thailand and Burma, filmed in a collage-style using several different formats underwater and on land. These are the complementary screenings (or ones that intriguingly clash) that you would only find at a film fest. The former, entitled Lucifer, is screening a total of three times in Leeds as part of the festival in November, and I would really recommend it. Another from LIFF’s Official Selection that I caught in London was Jafar Panahi’s extremely enjoyable, Taxi, also showing three times (including once at The Hyde Park Picture House.)

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LIFF Launch at Light Night

Friday 9th October 6:30pm, Leeds Town Hall.

Light Night 2015
This Friday it’s Light Night Leeds and the launch of the 29th Leeds International Film Festival. With so many interesting things happening as part of Light Night it sometimes feels like a waste to be sat in the town hall watching films, but there’s also a great sense of excitement as the festival programme is revealed.

Once again there will be a showcase of trailers for the festival films, followed by a 45-minute showcase of legendary Scottish-born, Canadian experimental film artist Norman McLaren. The screening’s line up includes McLaren’s three personal favourites Begone Dull Care (1949), Neighbours (1952) and Pas de Deux (1968) as well as Opening Speech: McLaren (1960), A Chairy Tale (1957) and La Merle (1958).

As for the festival programme, we’ll just have to wait and see what the team have put together this year. Will we get to see Oscar hopefuls such as Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, Todd Haynes’ Carol, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl or Lenny Abrahamson’s Room? Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise feels like a perfect fit for Fanomenon and could we see a virtual return of Kevin Smith with Yoga Hosers? Of course the real delight of the film festival are all the films you’d never heard of and are unlikely to see elsewhere. Usually we’re not too keen on trailers but they can be great for highlighting these gems and making everything at the festival feel unmissable.

What are you hoping will make the programme this year? Let us know in the comments below.

Scalarama, 2015

Various venues between September 1st and 30th.

Scalarama heading

This ‘unofficial month of cinema’ runs throughout September. Following the mantra ‘Go forth and fill the land with cinemas’ there are a varied range of events in major urban areas in England and in Scotland: there is also an event listed in the north of Ireland. To help punters there is a free Newspaper which includes listings which can be found at the various venues: in Leeds I picked one up at the Hyde Park Picture House and at the Arch Café.

As well as listings the Newspaper includes a range of articles on the various forms of cinema. The filmmaker Peter Strickland looks back at his experiences, including visiting one of the key venues for alternative and counter cinemas, The Scala. I remember many fine screenings there, including great all-nighters. Other writers sing the praises of 35mm, digital and [even] VHS. This is cinema in all its shapes and guises.

At the Hyde Park on Saturday September 12th at 11.00 p.m. we will have La Grande Bouffe (Blow-Up, France, 1973), a film that rather puts John Waters in the shade. And there is a Scalarama Special on Saturday September 26th themed round Creatures of the Night.

There will be two more of the excellent films from Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema. On Sunday September 13th at 3.00 p.m. we have Provincial Actors (Aktorzy prowincjonaini , 1979). The film was co-scripted and directed by Agnieszka Holland. She worked in Polish film as a writer, director and occasional actor. The film is set in a small town, [partly filmed in Lodz] as a theatre company prepare a classic play for performance. On September 22nd at 6.30 p.m. there is The Illumination (Iluminacja, 1973) written and directed by Kryzstof Zanussi, another major filmmaker drawn to moral concerns. The protagonist in the film works as a physicist and the film explores his search for identity: his personal life affected by the larger social world.

On September 27th there is a double bill of films by US independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke. One film is a must for jazz enthusiasts, Ornette – Made In America (1985). Alongside this is her early and rarely seen The Connection (1961), a fine film adaptation of a ‘beat generation’ play. You can read about her in the profile in the Festival newspaper.

Other film venues in Leeds are also participating in the Festival. There are several screenings at Minicine, at the Oblong Cinema, and individual screenings at Little Reliance Cinema and Leeds Queer Film Festival. And there are events at The Heart and the Arch Café. You can check events here and in other cities on the Scalarama website, impressively put together. Note, fresh events are being added, so check the website and do check individual events, I have discovered a couple of minor errors. If you going to the Hyde Park over the next week you may enjoy among the trailers a showreel of the films on offer. It make September a great month for film buffs.

Yorkshire Day – 1st August

Yorkshire Day Poster

Every year on August 1st we celebrate YORKSHIRE DAY, a wonderfully daft occasion where we screen a great movie from these here lands… Well this year we’ve decided to go all out, bringing you a day-long bonanza of free screenings, original artworks & fun activities, all celebrating film making and watching in Yorkshire!

We’ll be showing family friendly classic The Railway Children, contemporary short films from local filmmakers and artists, archive moving image from the Yorkshire Film Archive and a screening of the excellent Leeds Young Authors’ doc We Are Poets.

Alongside these screenings, there will be an exhibition of re-imagined Yorkshire film posters, featuring artists Lucy Sherston, Sam Hutchinson, Jake Blanchard, Siân Westcott, Karl Vickers and Kristyna Baczynski. We’ll also have projection room tours. And outside our friends at &/Or Emporium will be inviting local artists and makers along, plus there’ll be some tasty food stalls from the likes of That Old Chestnut, Leeds Bread Co-op and more TBC!

And the neat thing is, thanks to Leeds Inspired, everything here will be totally FREE, so you can come and go as you please!

Visit the Hyde Park Picture House website for more information about the dayContinue reading