Back to Bristol: Cinema Rediscovered 2019

I should say this through gritted teeth, but Bristol is rapidly becoming Britain’s most cinematic city. Designated a UNESCO City of Film in 2017, its reputation for great cinema screenings and heritage is growing and growing. One of the newest, shiniest gems in its movie crown is Cinema Rediscovered, a kind of West-Country offspring of Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato, which takes place every July at venues including the Watershed cinema in the city centre.

Disclaimer time: First, I am working with this festival again this year, and second, it’s not all silent. But genuinely, it’s one of the most exciting and ambitious archive cinema events in the country. Taking place from 25-28 July, Cinema Rediscovered will screen films ranging from the earliest experiments of Victorian cinema to a new 4K restoration of Chan-wook Park’s classic revenge thriller Oldboy (2003).

Other restorations on show include the landmark documentary Hoop Dreams (1989) and Márta Mészáros’ 1975 Berlinale Golden Bear winner Adoption (1975). There are strands devoted to the extraordinary films of legendary British director Nicolas Roeg, as well as to Nigerian director Moustapha Alassane and to feminist filmmaker Maureen Blackwood, who was the first black British woman to have a feature film theatrically released in the UK, The Passion of Remembrance (1986). Cinema heritage doesn’t always look like a pantheon of dead white men.

Une Femme Douce (1969)
Une Femme Douce (1969)

Terence Davies will be there to discuss his favourite film, deathless Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), with Matthew Sweet, while Jane Giles will talk about the history of the famous Scala cinema in London (and show some of the venue’s cult favourites), and local hero Mike Hodges will be talking about his wonderful Croupier (1998) with Samira Ahmed. The closing night film is a gorgeous new restoration of Robert Bresson’s 1969 film Une Femme Douce, his first work to be shot in colour. And what heartbreakingly subtle colours they are.

Neither is this all about eating your greens – or rather chewing on the roughage of film history. Another delicious-looking strand will feature films on the theme of Gluttony, Decadence and Resistance. Intrigued? This segment will be led by a screening of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover (1989), and go on to show a varied diet of greed flicks including: Rachael MacClean’s Make Me Up (2018),Vera Chytilová’s Fruit of Paradise (1970), Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973), Ester Krumbachová’s The Murder of Mr Devil (1970) and Brian Yuzna’s Society (1989).

William Friese-Green
William Friese-Greene

What about the silents? Well I will be introducing a screening of three Alice Guy Blaché films with live music by Meg Morley, in association with South West Silents, for one thing. There will also be presentations by experts Peter Domankiewicz and Ian Christie on William Friese-Greene and RW Paul respectively, and there’s even a VR twist on Victorian cinema for those who like to mix old and new. And for more tactile film geekery there are projection tours and hands-on opportunities to identify, make up and project 35mm film, culminating in ‘45s & 35s’, an analogue extravaganza. Cinema Rediscovered continues its industry focus on Reframing The Archives with debates and talks by industry professionals.

The popular young critics’ workshop is on again this year too, and I am taking part in that as a mentor, and appearing on a panel all about film criticism too, with Thea Berry, Rebecca Liu and Ben Flanagan.

There’s much more to the programme, including Il Cinema Ritrovato co-director Ehsan Khoshbakht’s found-footage essay FilmFarsi, which offers an alternative history of Iranian cinema, so do dig deep in the programme.

Notorious (1946)
Notorious (1946)

Oh and don’t miss the opening night, when the brilliant Observer critic Simran Hans will deliver the Philip French Memorial Lecture and I have the great honour of introducing the new restoration of Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), starring Ingrid Bergman and local lad Cary Grant.

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