Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

Posts from June 2013

News Round-up... 21/06/2013

Posted Friday 21 June 2013 by Jon Spatz in News Round-up

Spielberg & Lucas Vs Cinema   

                         “Hey, Cinema! Where do you think you’re goin’!?”        “You can’t escape us, not this time...”

Like a couple doomsday cultists, Spielberg and Lucas are predicting a ‘meltdown’ for cinema. I ask whether the decline of the blockbuster is such a bad thing; will this see the rise of The Independents!!

Serious News Headlines

Events

  • @LUXmovingimage has a round-up of all the must-go-to events in the world of Artists’ Moving Image.
  • @FOCALint is holding its ‘Annual Footage Training Week’, which sounds boring but is in fact fascinating; archivists are the superheroes of cinema in my eyes and this is a great way to gain a better understanding of their skill.

Training/Opportunities/Submissions

Good Reads/Viewings

A BBFC employee enjoys a break from hardcore pornography

Anatomy of a Programme: Peering into The Fog

Posted Tuesday 4 June 2013 by Kate Taylor in Cinema Careers

Cinema programming is a mix of taste, audience engagement and often detective work. Continuing our series, Anatomy of a Programme, we ask programmers to share their experience of research - the nitty gritty, pleasures and pain of getting films to audiences. Here Josh Saco of Cigarette Burns Cinema hunts down a 16mm print of John Carpenter's The Fog.

The Fog

Like most things, it started with a stupid idea.

There was a beer involved.

Possibly more than one.

In all probability, it was late.

It was also nearly a year ago.

My friend, Spencer, runs Death Waltz Recording Company, a soundtrack label, releasing pretty much every genre film OST that you can think of, and next on his slate was a hefty double vinyl album of the soundtrack to The Fog. The twist, what sets him apart for the others, is that he focuses as much on the cover artwork as the music as, so when a series of fortuitous events set him up for a meeting with none other than acclaimed artist, Dinos Chapman, the aforementioned idea was germinated.

“Right, I’ll source a 16mm print of The Fog and we’ll throw a record release party!” I think that’s pretty much how it went.

Why? Why did I say 16mm?

At heart, I’m a collector, always have been, so a challenging hunt is fun for me. We can’t have everything handed to us on a plate, can we?

But more importantly, I can’t lug a 35mm projector around on my back. Well I can, but I don’t have access to a portable 35mm projector. Equally as important, but far more depressingly, there are not very many 35mm prints of John Carpenter films knocking around in public archives.

So let’s focus on doable, shall we?

Thus began an 8 month search.

Quietly, I started trawling the internet.

The Fog

Eventually a 16mm print showed up on eBay, this was heartening as I’d made my initial promise of sourcing said print, without actually even knowing if there were any - as I said, there was beer involved.

Being a seasoned eBayer, I know you don’t bid until the last 10 seconds.

So I waited and waited, all the while feeling secure in my inevitable ownership of John Carpenter’s The Fog on 16mm ‘scope.

I was massively outbid.

And I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t very happy about it.

But I took solace in the fact that if one exists, more must, and the 16mm market being what it is, it’s likely to pop back up again.

However the clock was ticking. We’d decided that the best time to screen the film and have the party, was on 20th April, since the film starts on the 20th and the 21st. Conveniently, 20th April 2013 fell on a Saturday. The gods were smiling on us.

It’s August, there’s plenty of time. Dinos hasn’t even confirmed he’s going to do the art.

However, I know that if I purchase the print from the States, I’m going to need to allow for a month transport, just in case it gets caught in customs or some other nightmarishly expensive disaster befalls us.

The Fog

I start sending emails to print collectors explaining I’m looking for a print, any print, of The Fog.

“Ohhh I had one, I think I sold it to someone in Germany about 5 years ago.”

...no reply....

“Have you asked xxxx?”

“Yeah, that’s a tough one.”

The fairly empty emails kept coming....

and coming

finally I broke, it was November now, nothing happens in December and January, so write those two months off, time was definitely ticking.

Dinos was working on the artwork.

I could no longer ask quietly.

I posted my want and waited.

Boom! Two leads!

Go me! Game on!

Why didn’t I do this before - cuz I’m a secretive knob.

First lead is Jim, he’s in Canada, predictably. He’s got a print and he’s more than happy to sell it, he needs a couple weeks to do a print check, but he’s happy to sell it for a staggeringly low amount. Result, I can wait a couple weeks.

Second lead turned out to be the American fellow who outbid me on the eBay auction several months prior. But he too was now happy to sell, and kind enough to reduce the price from what he’d paid. He’d paid quite a lot. And the price was easily four times Jim’s price.

I said I was interested, but was waiting on clarification from another source, totally true. All was fine.

A couple weeks pass, and nothing from Jim... Pop him an email, you need to be careful here, you don’t want to be desperate or pester.

Jim apologises and says that the issue is a bit of a complex one... Turns out it’s in his ex wife’s garage, and he needs to go out to her place to check it.

Great.

But he will, next week, he’s out of the country at the moment.

The Fog

It’s December. The American’s print shows back up on eBay. Well that’s cheeky. If I had known it was gonna go there, I’d have stumped up the cash... but Jim... I’m being cheap now. Sod it, I’m winning this print.

I manage to sleep through my 2am eBay alarm.... Epic stupidity, I went to bed early and everything.

Email the American, if that falls through, let me know.

Chase down the new owner of the print, no reply.

Email Jim, who’s had plenty of time... but is out of the country again.

This is getting stupid.

It’s also February.

Pressure is building, Spencer needs to know if this going to happen, he’s got the artwork in hand.

A chance meeting at a birthday party and a “maybe I should ask him” thought prompted me to say “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know anyone with a print of The Fog, would you?”

“Yeah, I think Henry has one, ask him.”

Henry?!

He knows I’m looking! I’ve asked him!!

Right.

Henry is less than clear as to whether he even knows what a fog is much less if he owns a print.

But as a collector, he’s protective, a bit suspicious, am I just trying it on, do I want to pry a prized possession from his hands?

All quite common worries among print collectors, they come from a history not unlike the police raids of the Video Nasty era. Famously, in 1974, Roddy McDowall’s personal collection was raided and confiscated. 35mm prints themselves are often considered property of the studio, and are occasionally at risk of being reclaimed.

So Henry’s nervousness is not wholly unfounded.

I convince him we should probably meet anyway, since a) we’re both in London, and b) common interests and all...

Several phone calls, a greeting in a pub, followed by four hours of coaxing, and several pints later, I ring Spencer “Bloody hell! I’ve got it!!!!”

Why 16mm? Because we can’t have everything handed to us on a plate, can we?

*

The Fog a 16mm presentation with Death Waltz Recording Co OST Release Party, The Nave church, 1 St Paul's Rd, N1 2QH London, United Kingdom, Friday 7 June 2013.

If you have been working on a film programme and would like to share your story as part of the Anatomy of a Programme series, get in touch via kate@indepedendentcinemaoffice.org.uk.

Cannes 2013: Becky's Blog part 2

Posted Monday 3 June 2013 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

Only God Forgives ticket

After an amazing start to the day I’m brought crashing down to earth when Sacrebleu! The ticketing system has crashed and my ticket to Only God Forgives has been lost…oh the cruelty! I put on my most charming face to see if I can persuade the embattled ticket clerk to uphold the booking, but alas I leave empty handed. Not perturbed, I dust myself off and head for the queue for the day after screening of Wara No Tate (Shield of Straw) by Takashi Miike. The press from yesterday’s competition screening seems to be quite damning, which is maybe why the queue for this one isn’t very long, but I endeavour keep an open mind (tip no. 6 the day after screenings are a great way to see the films in competition, you don’t need an invitation just your festival pass, they are held in the Salle du Soixantième which is another screening room with a huge capacity and the queue is on the roof-top of the Palais so you get to look down over the sites of Cannes).

Shield of Straw

After 125 minutes of twists and turns, I think the critics have judged the film fairly harshly, it’s not an arthouse masterpiece and doesn’t bring anything new to the form, but it’s a pretty good police action drama. Ninagawa’s granddaughter has been brutally raped and murdered by psychotic ex-con Kunihide Kiyomaru. The police have DNA evidence that places Kiyomaru at the scene of the crime but they can’t locate him to arrest him. So, Ninagawa places a 1 billion yen ransom on Kiyomaru’s head for anyone that can kill him. Thus launches the biggest game of manhunt ever seen. With criminals, and thugs kicking down his door to assassinate him, Kiyomaru turns himself into the Police to see if they can protect him. Kazuki Mekari (Takao Osawa) and Atsuko Shiraiwa (Nanako Matsushima) are given the unenviable task to protect Kiyomaru during his transport to Tokyo to stand trial, cue the action, as everywhere they turn there is a potential assassin. Perhaps a slightly strange choice for competition in Cannes but still an engaging and entertaining film.

Wakolda

Next up is Wakolda an Argentinean drama set in the 1950s, about a family who are travelling to Bariloche, a German speaking community in Patagonia, to open a hotel by the Nahuel Huapi lake. On the deserted 400km road to Bariloche, they encounter a German doctor (Àlex Brendemühl) who asks if he can follow them on the lonely journey. Along the way the doctor becomes fascinated by Lilith, the young daughter of the family, who has a growth problem and he offers his expertise to help. However, the doctor’s study of Lilith’s condition soon exposes him to questions about his past research. An excellent subtly told story of familial relations and the far reaching impact of World War II. Director, Lucía Puenzo (The Fish Child, XXY), allows the viewer to slowly be charmed by the arduous efforts of the doctor to help Lilith escape the torment of childhood bullies about her size, only to be even more horrified by the film's ultimate revelations.

Seafood in Cannes

With a quick stop for a seafood platter and carafe of wine, Sarah and I try and see the day after screening of the Claire Denis, Les Salauds (Bastards). However for the first time we are finally defeated by the queue, so head to meet some other ICO team mates for a beer in….an English pub?!

La jaula de oro

After a quick shower courtesy of the nice gentleman that threw a bucket of water over our heads on the way home, I get set for my third day in Cannes. First up is a screening of La jaula de oro, by first time feature director Diego Quemada-Diez. A Mexican-Spanish co-production, it follows three teenagers who are trying to escape Guatemala for the promise of a better life in America. Sara, Juan and Samuel are childhood friends and they set off walking down the railway tracks in search of a train that might take them on the long journey through Mexico to the US border. Sara must travel in disguise as a boy, as the journey is a perilous one, and we soon encounter these dangers in the form of immigration police, ruthless mercenaries and swindling crooks. The director allows us to take a slow and innocent ride with the three friends, who befriend Chauk, a Tzotzil indian who does not speak Spanish on their way, only to hit us into the harsh consequences of life in Mexico. By the time the film reaches its conclusion you are on the edge of your seat, fingernails firmly embedded into your palms, willing them to make it across the border. Excellent to see that this film has been picked up by Peccadillo Pictures, it certainly deserves to be seen by UK audiences.

Only God Forgives

After the cruel joke with the Cannes ticket system snatching away my chances with Ryan Gosling, my colleague Simon Ward comes to my aid and gives me his spare ticket to the 13.30pm screening of Only God Forgives. No red carpet, and no Mr Gosling in person, but I’m sure I’ll be satisfied with an onscreen version. And it has to be said Ryan Gosling looks the part in Nicolas Winding Refn’s (Drive) latest Bangkok set thriller, as a drug smuggling boxing gym owner. However for me the film doesn’t quite deliver. With beautiful art design, a crimson glow that permeates every scene and a domineering score from Cliff Martinez, I find the slow and largely non-dialogue approach doesn’t allow me to engage with the characters. I’m willing myself to understand their thoughts and decisions but I come up fairly short. Kristen Scott Thomas has the best lines as the waspish Mother of the piece, but I’m left feeling slightly disappointed. Maybe I needed to work harder or perhaps it improves on a second viewing, but I think I may have overhyped this one.

Blood Ties

I decide to go for something more fun next, so hit up the 22.00pm screening of Blood Ties, the first foray into English-language filmmaking for director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One). With an amazing cast Clive Owen (aptly summarizing his previous roles, my colleague describes him as a louche James Bond, which I think is the perfect description), Billy Crudup, James Caan, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard (playing a drug addict prostitute), I’m very excited…and I’m not disappointed. Blood Ties is the story of two brothers who have a rough upbringing, in and out of foster care, one of them grows up to be a respected police officer (Billy Crudup) and the other a brutal remorseless criminal (Clive Owen), not the most original plot line, but the nuanced characters and conflicted emotions the brothers display, elevates this film from the run of the mill crime drama. Although not getting great reviews in the dailies in Cannes, if you go in thinking this is going to a fun film with a stella cast you won’t be disappointed, it is worth the price of a cinema ticket just to hear Matthias Schoenaerts’ amazing Brooklyn accent!

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