Mamoun introduced The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser on Monday 2nd November at the BFI Southbank in NFT2. It was a very different experience from other introductions and to that end, we have produced a different kind of re-presentation to enhance the experience.
I first met Gayle at the National Film and Television School when she was a producing student and I was Head of Editing. We had a couple of chance encounters in the corridor of the cutting rooms where, often, better work is done than in syllabus-designed master classes, workshops and lectures. A throw-away line could lead to thirty minutes of passionate and heated exchange. And that’s what used to happen with Gayle.
I next heard from Gayle some twenty years later, when she asked me to help out as editing consultant on Sally Al Hosaini’s My brother the Devil. We got on well and talked about working together. She produced Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition next but she still had time and energy enough to find the finance to develop a project with Andres Wood, Chile’s leading director, and me. Sadly, the project has not yet reached fruition. I am truly sorry that she will not be there to see the film completed.
I realised only later that Gayle was fighting cancer throughout this time. It is amazing. Stoical is a feeble term to describe Gayle’s character and strength of will. Nothing saps the energy as much as creative people, egotistical people, gifted people, demanding people, committed people, couldn’t-care-less people, in short, an everyday film unit. Yet she produced two features on restricted budgets and was developing another and probably more that I didn’t know about, while she was on chemo and other treatments. She may have stumbled once in a while but she dusted herself down and carried on regardless. And she had time for a full and rich personal life: she married her partner Philip Swart in the middle of all this.
Her record speaks for itself: five features, some award-winning, none of them standard, with newcomer directors – an outstanding achievement. Gayle was an idealist in an industry where idealists need to masquerade as cynics to get on. None of that for Gayle, who never forgot that she was a Sunderland girl, a Yorkshire lass. She played it straight. What impressed the profession was her judgement, integrity and dependability: she was certain to deliver creatively and on budget. Film-making is sometimes compared to fighting a war. If so, then Gayle Griffiths was a damned good general, with the bonus that she could be terrific fun. She won all her battles – except the last one. I shall miss Gayle. I will not forget her.
Mamoun has this to say about the New German Cinema:
It is a mystery how and why a country suddenly finds a distinct cinematic voice and creates a ‘new’ cinema. Political, social and economic factors provide only partial insights. In Europe, the ‘new’ cinema moved from Italy to France, to the UK (culturally colonised by Hollywood, we preferred ‘free’ over ‘new’) to Poland to Czechoslovakia and, in the 70s, to Germany, or, more significantly, West Germany.
The creators of the New German Cinema – Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff , Werner Schröter and Wim Wenders, had diverse styles but collectively they were all radical-left/anarchist. At one end, Fassbinder was hostile to all institutions – and individuals as part of institutions – past and present; at the other end, Herzog focused on individuals whose obsessions, delusions, dreams, fantasies, aspirations made them impossible to assimilate – and led them to destruction.
The question that is rarely addressed is how the filmmakers were supported and financed: public funding from the Länder, the federal government and private sector support from television, film distributors and exhibitors ensured the flowering of the talents of the New German Cinema.
Herzog has to date written and directed 18 features, including epics shot in the Amazon. Fassbinder made 41 films, intimate in scale, in 14 years – 41 ‘personal’ films, while Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz together made only some 30 feature films in their entire careers. But then our investors didn’t like politics (still don’t) – they followed Sam Goldwyn, who said: ‘If you want to send a message use Western Union’. Commercial viability was (and is) their only criterion. And we know how certain that is…
We are pleased to be able to announce that the major new Criterion restoration of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy is to be released on 17 November 2015.
There is so much to see in this set, including a rare interview with Ray, and it promises to be a remarkable restoration with the level of expertise, time and resources that have been lavished upon it. As the films were scanned and restored in 4K, they are also going to have an extended life in the movie theatres around the world.
Mamoun is happy to have been invited to take part in this release with his own supplement to the films: The Apu Trilogy – A Closer Look. The other supplements include a video essay by definitive Ray biographer Andrew Robinson, with a contribution from Martin Scorsese.
This is an interesting selection of films from Jason Ward on Dazed, that have been recognised as ‘defining’ the UK. Whilst it is pleasing to see ‘My Brother the Devil’ on which Mamoun acted as Consultant Editor, it is wonderful to see ‘A Private Enterprise’ on the list.
Mamoun backed ‘A Private Enterprise’ during his time as Head of Production at the BFI. It doesn’t get the exposure or recognition that it deserves – until now. Whilst it isn’t available to view on the BFI Player yet, we are sure it will at some point.
A fantastic new Blu-Ray release of John Fords ‘My Darling Clementine‘ was released on 17th August by Arrow Video – with both the original premiered cut in 4K and the longer pre-release cut in 2K.
They are beautiful transfers that are a joy to watch, but the extras really make the set something special. Included on the first disc is the Movie Masterclass on ‘My Darling Clementine‘ written and presented by the great british director, Lindsay Anderson. As regular readers of this site will know, Mamoun devised, produced and presented this series in the late 80’s. Mamoun is delighted that Lindsay’s masterclass has been included in this set, alongside other interviews and movies.
Other Wyatt Earp pieces in the collection include a transfer of Allan Dwan’s ‘Frontier Marshall‘(1939) and two radio plays starring Henry Fonda and Richard Conte as Earp.
As this is a limited edition, we advise you to get hold of it while you can.
Mamoun is looking forward to his yearly visit to the European Film College to give two masterclasses on De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Ozu’s Tokyo Story However there will be a twist. His discussion will also refer to De Sica’s pre-neorealist film The Children are watching Us (1944). He will explore how De Sica’s craft developed but also how certain inspirations persisted.
Under principal Nadia Kloverdahl Reich the College is developing physically and educationally – with a new building and a new faculty amongst many changes. A happy combination of the old and the new. Mamoun looks forward to working with Micah Magee, the new Directing Fiction teacher.