Introductions to Neo Realism and Pather Panchali at the European Film College

During Mamoun’s last visit to the European Film College in March, he led two Masterclasses after viewing Bicycle Thieves and Pather Panchali. We are happy to be able to share the introductions that Mamoun gave prior to the screenings. The first is more an introduction to Neo Realist cinema. The second is a welcome return to Sayajit Ray’s Pather Panchali.

Many thanks to Nadia Kløvedal Reich, principal of EFC, and the staff and students at the European Film College.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses

Introduction to ‘Rome Open City’

Mamoun gave an introduction to ‘Rome Open City’ at BFI Southbank in February. We’re presenting this introduction in a new format – one that we feel is more informative and entertaining.

This introduction was part of the NFTS/BFI Passport to Cinema series, and we would like to thank both Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts and the NFTS, and David Somerset and the staff of BFI Southbank for their support on this and other events.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News - Masterclasses

Terence Davis ‘Children’ at the BFI South Bank – A discussion with Terence Davies

Here is a chance to listen to the discussion that Mamoun had with Terry at the showing of his first film ‘Children’ on 16th March this year.

Terry was, as always, charming, funny, witty and illuminating. Mamoun and the audience had a wonderful hour with Terry, taking him away from post-production of his latest film.

Special thanks must go to David Somerset of the the BFI for curating the event – It couldn’t have happened without his involvement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses, Uncategorized

Mamoun heads to European Film College, 17 – 19th March

Mamoun has been invited by Nadia Kløvedal Reich, principal of EFC to participate in a comprehensive introduction to Neorealism, including screenings of Roberto Rosselini’s ROME, OPEN CITY and PAISA and Lorenza Mazetti’s s poetic TOGETHER. Mamoun will also be giving Masterclasses on Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece Bicycle Thieves and Satyajit Ray’s incomparable Pather Panchali.

He says: I always look forward to my visits to EFC. The generosity, enthusiasm and seriousness of purpose make it a very special place. I always return refreshed and energised.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses

Discussion at BFI Southbank, NFT3 – Terry Davies ‘Children’ 16th – 2.00pm March

Mamoun will be taking part in a discussion with Terry Davies following a screening of Terry’s first film, CHILDREN, which Mamoun backed when he was Head of Production, BFI Production Board.

Before CHILDREN, Terry’s film diet was almost entirely Hollywood; he saw hardly any foreign films. He had no contact with people in the business, yet in CHILDREN his style seems already fully formed. You would have to look hard to find Hollywood but you might catch glimpses, and hear echoes, of Ozu, Bresson, Satyajit Ray, even Dreyer, but he had seen none of their films at this stage. This is both puzzling and phenomenal. Artists rarely understand their own inner workings, nonetheless, it will be interesting to learn what Terry has to say about this.

The following day Mamoun travels to the European Film College in Denmark

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News, News - Masterclasses

Introduction to ‘Rome Open City’ – 9th February at BFI Southbank

936full-rome-open-city-posterRoberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City is the first great epic of Italian Neorealism. Seventy years on, the movement still survives. At any one time a neorealist film is being made somewhere in the world. These films are forever ‘neo’ or new because they are fresh and unexpected, focusing on people not considered worthy of attention and/or events which are ignored or suppressed. The originating neorealists were not only introducing an aesthetic but also challenging the view that ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality’ in its cinema.

As a movement neorealism is flexible, adaptable and generous. Its essence is to be found in its bone marrow and not in a set of rules – there are no obligatory twists and turns in a neorealist screenplay, for instance. Rome Open City ushered in a cinema that can flourish and is authentic in every society and every condition. Neorealism is universal.

Mamoun is very pleased to have been invited to introduce Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) on Monday 9th February 6.10pm at the BFI Southbank in NFT1 as part of the Passport to Cinema.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News - Masterclasses

Passport to Cinema: Ozu’s ‘Late Spring’ afterword

The great Alexander Mackendrick said that drama is about life ‘with the boring bits left out’. Yasujiro Ozu saw it differently. He embraced the ‘boring bits’, the everyday. Ozu weans us, for a while anyway, from the need for action and spectacle. He enhances the ordinary to the level of both entertainment and poetry.

At a superficial level Ozu’s films are not about very much. Many scenes comprise housework (the sequence in TOKYO STORY is simply thrilling), leaving and entering the house, making tea, drinking tea, preparing the bath, sitting quietly, drinking sake (a great deal of that) – and a lot of walking. There are shots of empty rooms and corridors, and abstract exteriors that are often just part of something. For instance, Tokyo in TOKYO STORY is first symbolised by a shot of three industrial chimneys – Tokyo is outside the frame. Ozu invites one to contemplate, think, consider and interpret. It sounds like Art House cinema at its nadir. It is the opposite.

Ozu made more than fifty films and they were regularly in the top five at Japan’s box office. His popularity is puzzling considering that the stories are remarkably similar – but then so are Jane Austen’s, Dostoevsky’s, Chekhov’s. It is almost an aspect of greatness. But one has also to look at the style; Ozu’s is like no other. The narrative is precise and plot is minimal, often perversely so; the mise-en-scène guides us to what is directly important; the editing is spare, creating a sense of real time; characterisation leaves out much, leading us to put in much; performance is almost free of ‘acting’. Ozu pares away everything and what is left is essence and engagement with the audience.

After seeing a couple of Ozu’s films, the rest of cinema and television seems overworked and loud, serving entertainment to a supposedly febrile audience. One goes back to Ozu and the everyday domestic world, where happiness and pain begin for most of us. Despite, or because of, his stylisation, he creates the real world, the inner spiritual world.

Hollywood, Aristotle’s town, admired Ozu but could not follow. For the rest of us Ozu is a miracle.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lecturing, News - Masterclasses