Manuscript workshop and The Secret of Kells

Anna Turner from Leeds University’s Medieval Society takes a look back at the first event at the Hyde Park Picture House as part of their International Medieval Film Festival

The Secret of Kells

Rainy Saturday mornings have a way of slipping away from you – lost somewhere between the duvet and the television. However, on this dull and grey Saturday morning a group of University of Leeds students gathered in Hyde Park Picture House to hold a small but effective protest against waste weekends. It’s not often that a revolution comes along in the form of a Medieval workshop and film screening – but there you have it. What could be more revolutionary than succeeding in getting a group of kids to part with their bed, teaching them about medieval print culture and having them sit silently through a beautifully animated movie about a unique artefact from Irish history, all before lunchtime?

I was one of three University of Leeds students lucky enough to be invited to lead a workshop about ‘The Book of Kells’, and medieval manuscripts more generally, as a sort of interactive introduction to their screening of The Secret of Kells. The event took place as part of the LUU Medieval Soc’s ‘International Medieval Film Festival’ – an offshoot of this year’s International Medieval Congress. The words ‘International Medieval Film Festival’ seem to conjure up images of stiff men in tweed jackets lamenting the lack of period-accurate armour in the latest Crusades docu-drama. Far from it!

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The Act Of Killing

As The Look Of Silence starts it’s run at the Picture House, Friends committee member Bill Walton takes a look at Oppenheimer’s earlier companion piece The Act Of Killing.

The Act Of Killing poster
Truth can be stranger than fiction. This is my favourite film documentary of all time … but maybe it will take second place in my heart after I have seen its follow-up The Look of Silence showing daily from Friday 19th June.

A military dictatorship took power in Indonesia in a coup in 1965. The new regime gave its blessing and protection to death squads who massacred over a million communists and other activists, particularly among the ethnic Chinese population. With Western assistance, the Suharto dictatorship kept its grip on power and ensured that their propaganda version of their rise to power remained largely unchallenged.

What is a radical film director to do?

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Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo / , Italy 1963.

Klat_otto_e_mezzo

I am afraid if you’ve just noticed this then you missed seeing this great film – it was screened on Thursday June 4th. There was a fairly good audience, 70 or more I reckoned. And they were clearly divided about the film. A couple passed me as the end credits rolled by – he hated it, she thought it was great. In the foyer a group of four were debating the merits or demerits of the film. Outside there were trios and pairs, one couple considering their responses. I was surprised so many people were seeing the film for the first time: I have had the pleasure of being familiar with the film for years. But it is reassuring that a film can stimulate so much intense discussion.

The HPPH Brochure notes that the film was selected in the Top Ten in the 2012 S&S Critics Poll: at number 10. Mote notably, it was number 4 in the parallel Director’s Poll and Federico Fellini was top director.

The film has so many virtues, fine cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo; a great score by Nino Rota; and superb editing by Leo Catozzo. And the cast! – at times it felt as if Fellini was throwing a party for all the wonderful actors who had graced his films. This screening was sourced from a DCP. I thought the transfer was good, but the digital version did not do full justice to sparkling contrast tween black and white, especially in the long shots. But the sound was great.

And despair not. I last saw this film two or three years ago – so it will come round again. And it is worth waiting to see it ‘real’, on the big screen.