(To receive monthly updates on 7inch
events and other fun stuff)
posted by: Ian on:
July 15, 2010 @ 10:47 pm
The Bioscope is a font of useful information on silent cinema, delving comprehensively into neglected corners while also alert to new developments and events. It’s run by Luke McKernan, Moving Image Curator at the British Museum. Having not visited for ages here are some of the things I caught up with today…
And most excitingly, news of the Strobotop Lightphase Animator, a hand-held optical gizmo which works along the same lines as Jim Le Fevre’s Phonotrope. The Strobotop was designed by Rufus Butler Seder – he also created the ingenious Scanimation books – and if I don’t restrain myself I’ll end up ordering at least 10 as presents.
This is a selection of images taken by amateur photographer Derek Fairbrother from the same spot in Birmingham’s Chamberlain square between 1963 and 1986. We’ve just compiled them for a new exhibition called Birmingham Seen which opens at BM&AG this weekend; other sequences include the Post Office tower and the Rotunda. With thanks to Pete James and Gaynor Fairbrother.
Yikes! I just realised there’s only half an hour of March left and not one blog-post this month. Ok, so Flatpack wiped us out. She is an insatiable mistress. But we’ve disentangled ourselves for a while, and are looking forward to the gentler pleasures of 7inch. (Oh dear, that could probably be phrased better.) There is a heap of different stuff coming up in fact, on which more details shortly. In the meantime, here’s a dancing pig…
We were alerted to this bizarre piece of cinema by Vanessa Toulmin when she visited the festival a couple of weeks ago to do a talk. I’ve a feeling she said it was her favourite film ever, and who are we to disagree? It can be found on volume 3 of Lobster Films’ brilliant Retour de Flamme series.
This week a new show opened at the Ikon gallery. Darcy Lange: Work Studies in Schools gathers some of the reams and reams of video footage which New Zealand artist Lange shot on his visits to schools in Birmingham and Oxfordshire during 1976 and 77. As he went along he screened his work back to the pupils and teachers who he was filming, sparking off a dialogue about documentary and how the kids saw themselves being represented onscreen.
If you happen to make it down there, pop into the Ikon shop and you can pick up a copy of the Landmarks booklet which 7inch produced last year. This is a record of a project we did around another chronicler of Birmingham life, TV documentary maker Philip Donnellan. Although the two never worked together, they had a similar willingness to involve their subjects in the work they were making. (In fact, Donnellan got in trouble at the BBC for inviting some union employees he had filmed into the edit suite at Pebble Mill.) You can also download a pdf of the booklet from the Landmarks project page.
There were two full houses for the climax of our archive tour in Pershore and Worcester this weekend. A blow-by-blow account can be found in the photo diary. A big thank you to all the venues for their support, and to all the nice people who came along. Apologies to those who we had to turn away; if there are any extra screenings in the new year we’ll post the details here.
Our pitiless conquest of the media continued last week with a spot on Midlands Today about the Worcestershire on Film tour. Many thanks to all those who wrote in and pointed out that the footage included a couple of shots of Ludlow; please rest assured that all rogue Shropshire elements have been removed. And if you would like to catch the tour before it ends, can we recommend the screening in Pershore this Saturday 22 November at 2pm? Thanks to an on air plug from the BBC we are expecting a veritable swarm of people for the 7pm show the same day in Worcester – so if you want to avoid disappointment either get in the queue early, or get down to Number 8.
More doormat joy last week, with the arrival of Flicker Alley’s five-disc box-set Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema. As you may well know, this magician-turned filmmaker blazed a trail in the art of fantasy and science fiction cinema while others were happy filming parades and folks leaving factories. It’s been very difficult to get hold of any of his work in a decent condition for home viewing but now, thanks to Flicker Alley, we have thirteen hours of the stuff. 173 films, including the likes of Trip to the Moon, Impossible Voyage and The Man With the Rubber Head. As you’d expect there is a fair bit of repetition on there, but this is a wonderful thing to dip into and also includes a halfhour biopic by Georges Franju (made slightly creepy by the fact that Méliès’ widow plays herself while he is played by his son) and a tribute written by Norman McLaren.
We reached the halfway point in our Worcestershire archive tour last week, with over 100 people coming along to the Priory in Great Malvern. The audience response has been brilliant, and for us jaded city kids it’s also been great to see the leaves turning throughout the month and discovering little shops and pubs along the way. A brief record of our voyage so far can be found on the projects page, and if you want to catch the tour we’re in Bretforton (nr Evesham) and Droitwich this week, then Pershore and Worcester next month.
A brief postscript to our Len Lye event last Saturday; we should have mentioned that a couple of Lye films will be part of the BFI touring programme ‘Love Letters and Live Wires‘, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the GPO Film Unit.
(Including the fabulous N or NW, pictured.)
Spent an illuminating if disorientating day in Leicester yesterday, delving through Worcestershire’s past at the Media Archive for Central England. Films included some 1920s ads for local businesses produced by the Grand Cinema in Kidderminster, home-movies of floods in Worcester, news reports on asparagus-growing and carpet-making, and Chris Tarrant interviewing a man with four ferrets down his trousers. Some of this material will make its way into a tour of the county which we’re organising this autumn, and happily we’ll be able to screen archive footage of many of the venues which we’re visiting – including, pictured from the left, the amazing ‘Chinese Gothic’ of Tenbury Halls Pump Rooms, the restored Forge Mill in Redditch and the Priory in Great Malvern. More info on the project and a full itinerary can be found here.