Category Archives: News

Discussion with Andres Wood at the BFI Southbank

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.

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Don’t miss Spanish language ‘Machuca’ at National Film Theatre, Southbank, London, September 1

machua-01

Image from ‘Machuca’ dir. Andres Wood 2004

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”

Andres Wood filming Machuca

Making Machuca. The child actors were not professionals

Andres Wood

Andres Wood.

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)

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Panel discussion on Lindsay Anderson at the BFI Southbank, curated by David Somerset

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).

Lindsay Anderson panel discussion, BFI Southbank from david somerset on Vimeo.

Mamoun writes

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.

Mamoun Hassan

 

 

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Discussion on Lindsay Anderson – BFI Southbank – Monday 14th March

lindsay-anderson-01Mamoun 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.

More information can be found here.

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Babylon at Theatre Utopia – afterword

babylonThere was a vigorous discussion following the screening of BABYLON at Theatre Utopia in Croydon.  Apart from the social references, a recurring question was whether BABYLON would have been financed and made today – whether the political and financial barriers are too great.  Strong views were expressed. BABYLON is still relevant; BABYLON is still alive.

Mamoun wrote an article in 2008 to accompany the DVD release by ICON FILMS. Things had changed between 1980 and 2008, and more dramatically since then. It is not the same country anymore. The generation in BABYLON are now parents, even grandparents.  We are now suffering the birth pangs of a multicultural Britain. It is more tumultuous in every way. I hope to see the new BABYLON soon.

Thank you Lee Fairweather.

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Gayle Griffiths – Film producer, colleague, friend

1228449_Gayle-GriffithsIt was with deep sadness that I learnt that Gayle Griffiths had died last Friday, 23 October. I saw her a few weeks ago and already knew her illness was terminal, but the fact of it is still a shock.

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.

 

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Passport to Cinema: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) by Werner Herzog

51EjuEKAvULMamoun would like to thank Dominic Power of the NFTS for inviting him to introduce Werner Herzog’s landmark movie, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser on Monday 2nd November at the BFI Southbank in NFT2.

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.

600full-ali--fear-eats-the-soul-posterThe 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.

urlThe 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.

Die_BlechtrommelHerzog 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…

 

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