by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> IndieWood in the UK? New British Cinema Struggles With Its Identity
Saturday afternoon at New York's Walter Reade Theater, The Film Society
of Lincoln Center's "Changing the Guard: The Festival of New British Film"
showcased the British Film Institute by presenting a selection of short
films produced by the BFI's "New Directors Program" over the past ten
years. After the screening, festival curator Gavin Smith was joined for
a discussion with BFI "New Director's" producer Kate Ogborn, filmmaker
Roberto Bangura ("The Girl with Brains in Her Feet"), filmmaker David
Yates ("The Tichborne Claimant"), Patricia McCarthy from the Amber Filmmaking
Collective, Interview Magazine's Graham Fuller, and the Edinburgh Film
Festival's Lizzie Francke.
As the panelists talked about current developments in British cinema,
the ever-widening gap between the types of British movies that usually make
it to America, and the sorts of films being represented in this series,
became quite evident. The picture that emerged was that of a British film
community facing many of the same sorts of challenges that the American
indie scene has been grappling with over the better part of this decade
-- bigger budgets and greater awareness for the more mainstream fare,
and roadblocks, especially at movie theaters, for edgier, truly independent
Underscoring the worst that British cinema has to offer, in the minds of
many on the panel, is "Notting Hill," the upcoming Julia Roberts/Hugh
Grant pic from Working Title, the producers of "Four Weddings
and A Funeral." Lizzie Francke, who also writes for the British film
magazine, "Sight and Sound," positioned the work being showcased in this Lincoln
Center series in direct opposition to the more mainstream British
exports, "There is a lot of money that is targeted towards commercial [films],
these all operate outside of that," she explained, "The selection here does
say something, looking critically, 'Notting Hill' is a film that the establishment
would like to push, [whereas] these are films that are exploring [Britain] as a
complex place to live."
Re-categorizing the current filmmaking scene in the UK as more of a "New
British Energy," filmmakers Bangura and Yates see signs that some of the
work may have a lasting impact in their country. "The lifeblood is the
sense that there is something going on in the underground," Bangura
explained. While Yates warned, "The energy is very real and very
exciting [but the] biggest concern is that the cultural sector seems to be
marginalized, [as the] promised funding for cultural work seems to keep
One British filmmaking group that is quite familiar with the challenges
of producing work on the margins is the Amber Collective which has been
documenting the British experience for 30 years (and is represented at
the New York festival with their 1995 film, "The Scar"). Collective member
Pat McCarthy vowed her groups commitment to "cultural filmmaking" and
explained that when the group formed, "the inspiration was about being totally
independent -- to document the lives of the working class people, to try
to represent the regions of Britain."
David Yates re-stated his view that there definitely is a "can-do
mentality" among emerging filmmakers in the UK and heralded the recent
trend of British moviegoers coming out in greater numbers to support
British films in theaters. Acknowledging that it is still difficult to
get a British film on screen back home, he admitted that, "Audiences are
more willing to give a British film a chance, [that is] another aspect of the
new confidence that might sustain this rally that we've got."
[The Festival of New British Cinema continues at Lincoln Center in NYC
through April 29th. For more information, visit the official website
>> Juries Set For 51st Cannes Festival
The juries for next month's Cannes Film Festival in France have been
announced. Joining jury President David Cronenberg is Swedish opera
singer Barbara Hendricks, French author Yasmina Reza, Australian director
George Miller, Italian director Maurizio Nichette, French director Andre
Techine, and American actors Holly Hunter and Jeff Goldblum.
Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, who took Cannes by storm last year
with his feature "The Celebration," will serve as the President of the Short
Film Jury. He will be joined by Brazilian director Walter Salles, French
director Cedric Klapisch, French actress Virginie LeDoyen, and British
actress Greta Scacchi.
The 51st Cannes Film Festival begins on May 12th.
[For more information, visit the official festival website at:
>> MoMA Hitchcock Retrospective Kicks off at MOMA with Eva Marie Saint
and Daughter Pat
The Museum of Modern Art's Alfred Hitchcock retrospective kicked off on
Thursday night in New York with a special screening of the director's
1959 film, "North by Northwest." Actress Eva Marie Saint ("On The
Waterfront"), who starred in the film, was on hand along with Hitchcock's
daughter Pat -- the two women introduced the early evening showing which
was followed by an opening night party amidst a quirky and entertaining
live band and an array of uniquely designed floral arrangements.
Calling Hitchcock her fashion "sugar daddy," Saint recalled the day when
she was given free range to choose dresses for her "sexy, spy lady"
character at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. Saint recalled the
instructions that Hitchcock gave her for the role, indicating the she
was told to lower her voice, not use her hands, and "look right into Cary
Grant's eyes at all times. Summarizing, she called the movie a
"wonderful experience," adding, "I still have so many wonderful memories."
"My dear husband and I did our courting at The Modern," Saint also told
the audience, directing a smile towards his seat in the front row. Recalling
a personal MOMA highlight, she relayed the story of they day she found out
that she was pregnant. Calling her doctor from a phone booth at the
museum, Saint received the good news and simply sat down in the booth
[[For more information, visit the MoMA site at: