Loving Vincent, UK / Poland 2017

                                                      There is one more screening on Saturday 23rd at 5.15 p.m.           with subtitles for the hard-of-hearing,

 

The last screening of this title was sold out, an uncommon feat at the cinema. It is the recipient of a number of Awards including Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin. Comments have focused on the sheer visual beauty of the images.

This is an animated feature and it has used a set of distinctive techniques:

“Each of the film’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh, created by a team of 115 painters.”

The film also uses live action sequences. These are mainly flashbacks within the narrative.

Van Gogh is one of the most prized [and expensive] painters in European Art and he has a presence in popular culture as well. His personal life and tragic demise have fed into this celebrity. The narrative in this production takes the form of an investigation. A young man, charged with delivering Van Gogh’s final letter, delves into the final days of the artist. Thus the film explores both the personal and the artistic.

The director is a Polish animator Dorota Kobiela with her first feature. Her co-director is Hugh Welchman, who normally works as producer,. The film relied on funding from the Polish Film Institute, an institution with a long and illustrious history.

The production was shot on a digital camera and is in colour and the academy ratio. [IMDB gives 1.33:1 but thus us usually masked to 1.37:1].  The film used a number of ac actors as ‘models’ for the paintings and they also appear in the ‘live action’ sequences. The British release has an English language soundtrack, dubbed by the credited actors and other voices. .

Van Gogh has enjoyed frequent representations on film. There is Lust for Life (USA 1956), directed by Vincente Minnelli with Kirk Douglas playing the artist. Some of the relationships in the film seem a little facile but the artist and his work are well presented. Then there is Vincent and Theo (France, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Italy) a film by Robert Altman with Tim Roth as Van Gogh. Roth makes excellent casting for the tortured artist. And there are several well made documentaries.

LIFF preview – Łódź Film School Shorts

Monday November 16th at 1300 and 1500

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The Leeds International Film Festival offers a rich variety from the short film form. One programme that promises real quality is this selection made at the Polish National Film School. Friends who have seen the features in the Martin Scorsese Masterpieces of Polish Cinema will know that the school has been [and remains] a really fine training ground for young filmmakers.

There are two programmes of film, running for one hundred minutes each. The first includes the young filmmaker seen above, Roman Polanski. There is also an early film by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The first programme covers the 1960s until 1980s. The second programme offers current films and filmmakers.

Definitely worth getting along for on Monday afternoon. And going on past years all of the short film programmes should offer at least some distinctive and enjoyable filmmaking.

 

 

Scalarama, 2015

Various venues between September 1st and 30th.

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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.

The Promised Land / Ziemia obiecana, Poland 1975.

Screening Sunday July 19th at 2.10 p.m.

Promised Land 10 This is another title in the series of Masterpieces of Polish Cinema. One pleasure of the series is in revisiting familiar masterworks: another is the chance to catch [as in this case] very rare films. To the best of my knowledge this film has not enjoyed a general UK release, so this is a not to be missed opportunity. It was directed by Andrej Wajda in 1975, the outstanding filmmaker in post-WWII Poland. The film runs for 170 minutes, which is the full length release version. It was filmed in the European widescreen ration of 1.66:1 and with Orwocolor, an East German variant on Agfa. This colour stock has particular characteristic including often fairly dark hues. These work well with some of the expressionist techniques used in the Cinematography by Waclaw Dybowski, Edward Klosinski and Witold Sobocinski.

The film is set in C19th Lodz, then a centre for textile manufacture, and follows the power struggles within a small group of would-be capitalist entrepreneurs. The story give expression to the dominant values in 1970s Poland. But there are also overtones reminiscent of some of the characters found in the C19th novels of Charles Dickens and also in the great cycle of Les Rougon-Macquart novels by Emile Zola. This is the period of capitalism, ‘red in tooth and claw’. This is an epic film, full of character and situation and filmed with impressive style.

Masterpieces of Polish Cinema

Ashes and Diamonds Thursday 18th June 6.20 p.m.
Leeds Movie Fans Meetup is planned for this screening.

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Between June 18th and September 22nd the Hyde Park Picture House will be presenting eight films produced in Poland over three earlier decades. Masterpieces of Polish Cinema presented  by Martin Scorsese, together with The Film Foundation and the Polish Film Institute and supported by a number of other agencies. Scorsese is not only a respected and important filmmaker, he is also a collector, archivist, educator and, through his involvement in The Film Foundation, responsible for restoring and distributing key films from World Cinema.

In the case of these films the focus is on the work of the Polish National Film School at Łódź. Numerous and talented film artists have studied here. And the work that has emanated from the school has influenced not only Scorsese but also other filmmakers such as the UK’s own Lindsay Anderson.

The programmes commence with Ashes and DiamondsPopiół i diament , 1958,

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