Get ready Brooklyn: BAMcinématek has announced they will be presenting the most comprehensive NYC Derek Jarman retrospective in nearly two decades. “Queer Pagan Punk: The Films of Derek Jarman” will screen October 30-November 11, featuring all of his feature films, including new restorations of “Sebastiane” and “Caravaggio.” This is extremely good news for Jarman fans, as it is for those who have yet to fully experience the great queer filmmaker’s full body of work.
All the info you need is in the press release below:
Brooklyn, NY/Sep 30, 2014—From Thursday, October 30 through Tuesday, November 11, BAMcinématek presents Queer Pagan Punk: The Films of Derek Jarman, a comprehensive retrospective of iconoclastic British filmmaker and crusading gay rights activist Derek Jarman, following its run at the BFI this spring. Jarman not only redefined queer cinema, but reimagined moviemaking as a means for limitless personal expression. From classical adaptations to historical biographies to avant-garde essay films, he crafted a body of work that was at once personal and political, during a difficult period when British independent cinema was foundering and the AIDS crisis provoked a wave of panic and homophobia.
Also a poet, diarist, and painter, Jarman first entered the realm of the movies as a production designer for Ken Russell. The Devils (1971—Oct 31), Russell’s controversial opus of repressed nuns and witchcraft trials, played out in a 17th-century French village that Jarman spent a year creating. His own first feature, Sebastiane (1976—Nov 9), playing in a new restoration, placed a daring emphasis on male nudity and eroticism as it chronicled the death of the Christian martyr; Jarman called it “the first film that depicted homosexuality in a completely matter-of-fact way.” A time-traveling Queen Elizabeth I wanders among the ruins of a dystopic modern London in Jubilee(1978—Oct 30), a shot-in-the-streets survey of the burgeoning punk scene that captures early performances by Adam Ant, Wayne County, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Slits. Jarman’s unconventional take on The Tempest (1979—Nov 1) features Prospero as a young man, a Gothic mansion setting, and a show-stopping rendition of “Stormy Weather.” “It’s the Bard’s rebirth in cinema” (Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times).
Eight years in the making, Caravaggio (1986—Nov 8), also in a new restoration, was Jarman’s highest-budget film, a forthright, boldly anachronistic take on the bisexual Renaissance artist and a self-portrait in disguise. Tilda Swinton, Jarman’s female muse, made her film debut in Caravaggioand stars in Jarman’s segment of the opera omnibus Aria (1987—Nov 10), which also features contributions by Ken Russell, Nicolas Roeg, and Robert Altman (not to mention a side-splitting turn by Buck Henry as a sleazy, philandering movie producer). Laurence Olivier makes his final screen appearance in War Requiem (1989—Nov 6), an anti-war elegy scored entirely to Benjamin Britten’s famous choral work, while Edward II (1991—Nov 2), a modernist-styled, modern-dress
staging of the Christopher Marlowe play emphasizes the persecution of the English monarch and his male protégé. Spare and spry, narrated by a child and numbering a Martian among its characters,Wittgenstein (1993—Nov 9) is a poignant coda to Jarman’s series of idiosyncratic gay-themed biopics.
In between these comparatively large-scale efforts, Jarman deputized friends and lovers to populate smaller, DIY-style features. The poetic The Angelic Conversation (1985—Nov 4) depicts an idyllic male love affair, narrated with Shakespearean sonnets read by Judi Dench, while the darker The Last of England (1988—Nov 5), made just after Jarman’s AIDS diagnosis, contemplates the artist’s death as well as the nation’s—“a full-throttle state-of-the-nation broadside against Thatcher-era Britain” (Dennis Lim, Los Angeles Times). Even more provocative, The Garden (1990—Nov 11) draws upon Christian iconography, with Swinton as the Madonna and a same-sex love story that parallels the story of Christ. Made as he was dying of AIDS and famously consisting of a single monochromatic image, Blue (1993—Nov 7) has Jarman, Swinton,
and others giving voice to Jarman’s elegiac meditations on the loss of his sight, his friends, and his life.
Other highlights of the series include a program of Jarman’s music videos (Nov 7), as well as some of his rarely-seen short films. Shot partly on Fire Island, In the Shadow of the Sun (1980—Nov 3) syncs some of Jarman’s earliest Super-8 work to a Throbbing Gristle score, Imagining October(1984—Nov 3), a critique of Soviet (and Western) censorship shot partly in Eisenstein’s library, andThe Queen is Dead (1986—Nov 3), a set of music videos by the Smiths. Completed after his death,Glitterbug (1994—Nov 3) compiles some of Jarman’s most intimate 8mm and video portraits of himself and his environs and screens alongside Pirate Tape (1987), which records a visit to London by Beat legend William S. Burroughs, and T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven (1981) a Throbbing Gristle concert film.