In May 1973, just after the release of Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man, London University Audio Visual (LUAV) filmed a conversation/interview with Lindsay Anderson and me. O Lucky Man was the focus of the interview, which was part of an LUAV planned series of interviews with leading figures of the time. The results would be kept in a kind of time capsule and would not be released until fifty or a hundred years later. The project was abandoned early on.
Mamoun Hassan was on hand to introduce the contemporary classic, Machuca, one of his Spanish language collaborations at the National Film Theatre on Thursday 1 September.
David Somerset, of the BFI, spoke to director Andres Wood live from Santiago de Chile via Skype, with Mamoun on hand, about the development of the script and the filming of this highly acclaimed and influential film. Despite a few technical hitches, the discussion was lively, and gave an insight into the production process and the inspiration behind it.
Special thanks must go to David Somerset, who organised the event, for his cool head when Skype occasionally lost connection with Chile, and for his enthusiastic support over the past years.
Mamoun Hassan will be on hand to introduce Machuca, one of his Spanish language co-productions at the National Film Theatre next week, Thursday 1 September. It is hoped that a Skype connection will enable him to join David Somerset, who organised the screening, and speak (in English) to director Andres Wood live from Santiago de Chile.
The 2004 film will be shown as part of the education programme of the BFI and coincides with its inclusion as a prescribed film in the Edexcel Spanish A level syllabus from September 2016.
Machuca tells the story of a young Chilean boy and his friends and family during the coup of the 1970s. It is full of period details and features outstanding performances by all the young actors involved. Mamoun co-wrote the script with Andres and is his most successful film to date, winning 10 international Awards including the Political Film Society of the USA’s award for Democracy, 2006.
Mamoun says, “The inclusion of Machuca as a prescribed text alongside works by contemporary Latin American and Spanish 21st century cinema giants such as Walter Salles, Guillermo del Toro and Pedro Almodovar is a feather in the cap of Andres Wood, one of the best directors of his generation”
Book tickets at the BFI website https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=C417E2D7-F7C1-46FD-A5E1-4C4C4C09DEF2&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id=8D65B755-C1E5-4731-AF8E-DE96062A5FDA
(Free for over 60s)
Mamoun was discussing the early steps of working in cinema with a young colleague and she asked him how he started in the industry.
Mamoun realised that he had never spoken about his first completed work: The Meeting, made in 1964.
As Mamoun’s first experiments in directing and writing were very dialogue heavy, he felt that he should try to create a piece that had no dialogue at all – as an exercise. The exercise became something else.
The finished film went to Oberhausen in 1965 where it was well received and won a prize. It was reviewed at length in Cahiers du Cinema and as part of the review of the Oberhausen festival in Positif. Both publications are recognised as the two most important film journals in France.
United Artists distributed the film in in Europe as a short feature.
Cast and Crew
Peter Suschitzky has become a renowned International cinematographer.
Dave King became an illustrious documentary and fiction senior editor at the BBC.
Cleo Boman is a Swedish actor who has worked in theatre and film and is now a director with the Mittiprickteatern, one of the oldest free theatres in Sweden.
John Stokes decided against joining the British film industry, to our considerable loss, and has worked as an artist/designer and also as a theatre designer and actor at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. I thank him for traveling on a train in handcuffs (which we had to return to the local police station which had lent them to us).
One of Mamoun’s hands is also in the film….
The extract revue by Bernard Cohn in Positif No. 70 from the Oberhausen Film Festival 1965 (Le Tour Du Monde en 144 heures) is translated here:
The Meeting by Mamoun Hassan is one of the most beautiful films of this festival. It’s subject – in a deserted railway station a woman is waiting. She is anxious and her anxiety increases as time passes. An express train rushing through the station at top speed adds to her state of anxiety. A few minutes later a small suburban train slowly comes to a halt. The woman runs towards a carriage door at which a man has appeared. A series of wonderful linked mixes shows them embracing. Suddenly, we see that the man is in handcuffs. He is pulled back roughly by a hand from the corridor. The train whistles and starts to move away, then disappears round a bend in the track. The woman remains alone on the platform and then leaves, back towards the town, where she disappears.
Mamoun Hassan has succeeded in creating a world in which the feelings of solitude and sadness – but also of joy and love – become tangible. Hassan has filmed these grey, sad, tragic settings, these lost characters, with astonishing sensitivity and rigour.
Mamoun Hassan appeared recently at the British Film Institute’s Seniors talk on the work of film, television and stage director, critic and actor Lindsay Anderson (1923 – 1994) at the National Film Theatre, Southbank, London March 14 2016. The panel event was curated by David Somerset, Adult Community Education Programmer. Filmed by Sherief Hassan and edited by David Somerset. The video opens with a clip from ‘Free Cinema 1956 – ?’An Essay on film by Lindsay Anderson (1985).
Nowadays Lindsay Anderson, if he is remembered at all, is equally loved and disliked by film makers, film critics and writers. Not so in the late 50s, 60s and 70s. He was almost wholly admired not only for his films and theatre work but also for his writings on cinema, which were incendiary. Of course, he had his detractors, who often belonged to the establishment: the successful, the comfortable, the conformist, the smug and the paralysed conservatives. He argued and carried the flame for an authentic British cinema. He influenced a whole generation of film makers and critics. He was cerebral, emotional, provocative, censorious, intimidating, generous, inspiring. Never before had a British film director spoken with such clarity about what we should make films about and how we might make them – about style. Critics tend to belabour the genre, as if audiences can’t tell the difference between a hand and a hacksaw, between a musical and a thriller. They avoid the responsibility that Lindsay stressed: that good cinema grows out of good criticism – not of Hollywood ‘product’ but of our own films. Passion and insight start at home.
Legendary film critic David Robinson, chairman of the Lindsay Anderson Memorial Foundation, chairs a panel consisting of Kevin Brownlow, director, writer, editor and Oscar-winning film historian, Charles Drazin, author and film critic, Andrew Eaton, film producer, and me. We speak of the man we knew and sometimes worked with and of his films.
We are pleased to share Mamoun’s masterclass on Ozu’s masterpiece, Tokyo Story. Mamoun has revisited this film several times, but this most recent visit at the European Film College in Ebeltoft allowed him to discuss the film with the students in detail.
Mamoun is pleased to have been invited to join the panel talking about the Film and Theatre Director, Film writer and influential film critic, Lindsay Anderson.
The talk is being chaired by film critic and writer, David Robinson, and the panel includes oscar winner Kevin Brownlow, and film writer Charles Drazin.
Due to the popular public response, the event has been moved from NFT3 to NFT1.