Tag Archives: Guy Maddin

London Film Festival 2015: a silent preview

Shooting Stars (1928)
Shooting Stars (1928)

Surprises can be fun, but maybe, when you’re stumping up for film festival tickets say, it’s good to get what you really wanted. The silent movies on offer at this year’s London Film Festival may not contain any unexpected treasures, but they do comprise some of the year’s most anticipated restorations, so let’s fill our boots. Our only reservation is that a few of these silent screenings do clash, so choose your tickets carefully.

Variety (1925)
Variety (1925)

Variety (1925)

Well don’t I feel a little less sick about missing this new restoration of EA Dupont’s romantic drama at Bologna? Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti, that woozy unleashed camera … you know this is going to be a treat. Variety is a highlight of Weimar cinema, and deserves to be seen at its shimmering best. It’s screening just once at the festival, in NFT1, so make sure you’re there. The word from those who have seen the new 2k resto already is: the print is gorgeous, but there is less enthusiasm for the new score, from the Tiger Lillies. No such worries for us cockney sparrows, who will have the pleasure of Stephen Horne’s assured accompaniment.

The Battle of the Century (1927)
Stan and Ollie in The Battle of the Century (1927)

The Battle of the Century (1927)

You might have heard a whisper about this one. The rediscovered second reel of Laurel and Hardy’s The Battle of the Century makes the film almost entirely complete – and essential viewing for fans of Stan and Ollie. Enjoy it at the London Film Festival with three more L&H shorts for company and musical accompaniment from messrs John Sweeney or Stephen Horne, depending on which of the two screenings you attend. Bear in mind, if you’re not heading to Pordenone, that the first screening is a full 24 hours before it plays at the Giornate – could this be a world premiere of the restoration?

Sherlock Holmes (1918)
Sherlock Holmes (1918)

Sherlock Holmes (1918)

Benedict Cumberbatch is all very well (very well indeed if you ask me), but if any actor could lay claim to the “definitive” Holmes, it was William Gillette. And for many a long year, the film that committed his stage performance of the gentleman detective to celluloid was thought to have vanished in the night. An elementary mistake, Dr Watson – the film was rediscovered at the end of last year and has been prepped for a Blu-ray release and a handful of festival screenings, including this one, in NFT1 on Sunday 18 October. There’s live music from Neil Brand, Günter Bichwald and Jeff Davenport and an irresistible accompanying short, A Canine Sherlock Holmes (1912).

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Win tickets to the premiere of Guy Maddin’s Keyhole at the BFI

UPDATE: Unfortunately I have just learned that Guy Maddin will no longer be able to attend the Keyhole premiere. The competition is still running, however.

No film director in the world takes more inspiration from early and silent cinema than Guy Maddin does. From his silent short The Heart of the World, to the dreamy textures of his features, such as The Saddest Music in the World and Brand Upon the Brain!, through to his hugely ambitious “lost films” project Spiritismes, Maddin has demonstrated a career-long passion for early cinema. His newest film Keyhole is also heavily influenced by classic Hollywood. AO Scott in the New York Times described it as “a dusty attic full of battered, evocative cultural references … a perfect gateway into the bizarre and fertile world of a unique film artist.”

Canadian director Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) is renowned for his exploration of surreal worlds and ghosts, which most recently has manifested itself in his ongoing Spiritismes project, launched at the Pompidou this March. His latest feature Keyhole, featuring deliciously unhinged performances from Isabella Rossellini, Jason Patric and Udo Kier, is a fabulous and bizarre personal-odyssey-cum-supernatural-thriller that exposes the hidden desires of the Pick family, their phantoms and the gang of thugs who inhabit the shadows of their crumbling home.

Isabella Rossellini in Guy Maddin's Keyhole
Isabella Rossellini in Guy Maddin’s Keyhole

Keyhole will premiere at the BFI Southbank on Monday 13th August, at a special screening that will be followed by a Q&A with the director in which he will talk not just about the new film, but about his latest silent project – one that is of particular interest to readers of Silent London.

Guy Maddin’s current project Spiritismes is a unique, live production/online project that brings back to life ‘unrealised, half-finished, lost or abandoned films’ by the great masters of the cinema: Cocteau, Vigo, Murnau … BFI’s special UK Premiere Fundraiser of Keyhole is being presented, courtesy of Soda Pictures, to enable Guy Maddin to ‘channel’ Hitchcock’s lost film The Mountain Eagle. All proceeds from the screening will be donated to the production and Maddin will be in attendance to talk about Keyhole, Hitchcock and Spiritismes.

So, buy a ticket for Monday’s event and you will be helping this acclaimed and distinctive director to recreate the lost Hitchcock film The Mountain Eagle.

To win a pair of tickets to the premiere of Keyhole at BFI Southbank, simply email the answer to this simple question to silentlondontickets@gmail.com with Keyhole in the subject header by noon on Friday 10 August 2012.

  • Name Guy Maddin’s hometown in Canada, referred to in the title of one of his most famous films.

Good luck!

Spiritismes: Guy Maddin revives lost films in Paris

The Blue Mountains Mystery (1921)
The Blue Mountains Mystery (1921)

“Over eighty percent of silent films are lost. I’ve always considered a lost film as a narrative with no known final resting place — doomed to wander the landscape of film history, sad, miserable and unable to project itself to the people who might love it. This absence haunts me. I need to see these films. It’s eventually occurred to me that the best way to see them would to make contact with their miserable spirits and invite them to possess me. And with actors quite willing to participate in some para-normal cinematic experiments … Every day my actors will plunge themselves deep into a trance, and open themselves up to possession by the unhappy spirit of a lost film. And every day my actors will act out the long forgotten choreographies that once lived so luminously on the big screen for thousands, maybe millions of viewers.” – Guy Maddin

Last weekend, I visited the set of The Blue Mountains Mystery, which was shot in Australia in 1921. The day before, I dropped by to see the same crew, and largely the same cast, working on an Erich Von Stroheim script, Poto-Poto.

The filming took place, not in another dimension, but in Paris, at the Pompidou Centre, where Canadian film director Guy Maddin has taken it upon himself to shoot an entire film each day, or rather to revive a lost film, in a series of “ciné-séances”. The filming takes place in public, in the basement of the arts centre and I elbowed through the crowds to glimpse the hanging around, whispering and brief bursts of activity that comprise the magic of movie-making. The set of Poto-Poto was very reminiscent of the second half of Queen Kelly, with a large, draped bed, but there was little happening when we swung by. We had better luck with Blue Mountains the next day, somewhere over the shoulders of the crew we may have witnessed a murder, or something that looked a lot like one.

Guy Maddin's The Blue Mountains Mystery séance, Paris 26/2/12
Action! Guy Maddin's The Blue Mountains Mystery séance, Paris 26/2/12. Maddin is in the black T-shirt, with the still camera

“Every day, Guy Maddin invites visitors of the Centre Pompidou to witness the making of a new film inspired by a long-lost movie. Summoning these wandering spirits of cinema in theatrical “séances”, Maddin and his actors inhabit their ghostly scenarios.” – Pompidou Centre

You can read more about the project, and watch a live stream of the filming, here on the Pompidou website. Spiritismes began on 22 February and runs until 12 March; the schedule includes films by Jean Vigo, Kenji Mizoguchi, Lois Weber and William Wellman as well as a few surprises to be announced along the way. Actors in Maddin’s rep troupe include Isabella Rossellini, Geraldine Chaplin and Udo Kier. The films will all apparently be edited and finished and made available to view at a later date.

Spiritismes has taken up residence at the Pompidou in the lead up to the French release of Maddin’s new film Keyhole and will apparently be repeated at other venues across the world, including New York. Let’s hope it comes to London. You can read more on this blog by Kim Morgan, Maddin’s wife and another of the actors involved. I leave you with some blurry phone snaps, and some more wise words from the director.

The set of Guy Maddin's Poto-Poto séance, Paris 25/2/12
The set of Guy Maddin's Poto-Poto séance, Paris 25/2/12. Could that be Geraldine Chaplin in the bed?
The set of Guy Maddin's The Blue Mountains Mystery séance, Paris 26/2/2012
The set of Guy Maddin's The Blue Mountains Mystery séance, Paris 26/2/2012

“This project made its way into my head for almost twenty years. During all these years, he moved my heart and even my soul, until I myself am possessed! I learned that there are lost films. Beautiful films, made for a very long, generally silent, popular films, glorified, loved, raised to the level of myth by millions of spectators, some obsessively. Films which, however, dying in obscurity. Since I realized this, I literally haunted. Some of these films were destroyed by the studios, simply because they needed shelves, some were thrown into the sea or burned in a bonfire at picnics countryside. Others were reduced to dust because they were poorly preserved, others perished in the flames in an accident of projection. Some of these films have simply disappeared from history.” – Guy Maddin

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