11 August, 2010

Film and Events Highlights for August-September

We've some unmissable screenings and events coming your way in our August - September film programme.

To coincide with the release of Tamara Drewe, we will be welcoming her creator, Posy Simmonds, on Tuesday 28 September. Posy will be sitting in conversation with comics expert, Paul Gravett. A must for any comic strip fans.

If you love animation, you'll be delighted with The Illusionist, based on a script by Jacques Tati, and directed by Sylvain Chromet of Belleville Rendezvous fame. I asked our Film Programmer, Tom Vincent, to tell me his highlights for the month - and here's his expert opinion:

"The Illusionist is one of the loveliest films you'll see all year. An animated tale of an outmoded French entertainer in the Scotland of 1959, the film reminds us of one of the most enduring pleasures of cinema, of entertaining without words (and those who remember the same director's 2002 film Belleville Rendezvous will know what to expect). There aren't many films around currently that have the confidence to use image and sound so effectively in their storytelling, and it's always a refreshing delight to be enthralled in this way. The film opened this June's Edinburgh International Film Festival, with the Festival organisers laying on street performance outside the theatre that recreated characters, magicians and trapeze artists, from the film, which conjured up the pleasures of a bygone age.

"At an interview event in which he explained the process of making the film, director Sylvain Chomet spoke about his love for, and artistic debt to, Jacques Tati. It's Tati's unfilmed script from which the film was developed, and his influence is all over both of Chomet's features to date. The illusionist of the title was modelled on Monsieur Hulot, Tati's most famous creation, the script was written, poignantly, for Tati's own daughter, and in one glorious episode Chomet's character comes face to face with the ever-polite, ever-bumbling, celluloid Hulot in an Edinburgh cinema. In offering pleasures alternative to 99% of all new cinema, The Illusionist seems like an affirmation of the past, nostalgia made relevant.

"The Illusionist is also made with precisely the same comedic DNA as Tati's films. Tati's humour was pretty unusual (ITV's Mr. Bean offered an anaemic version of it); absurd visual gags were set up and left hanging, the humour coming not from punch lines but from the delicious situations themselves. An incident from Tati's schooling planted a seed for all this: In Tati's English class an enthusiastic teacher would encourage students to act out commands while repeating target phrases, in this case "I open the door, I close the door". Spotting the chance to make the class laugh, Tati volunteered, wandered over to the door, opened it ("I open the door"), stepped through and, ("I close the door") shut it behind him. Outside the classroom Tati wondered for a moment which would be funnier; to go back in and meet his peers' applause, or to hide in the toilets until the end of the class. In the end he simply snuck out of school entirely and spent the rest of the day at home, leaving his improvised joke hanging absurdly forever."

Speaking of animation, Bradford Animation Festival 2010 is upon us - find out more by visiting www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/baf/.

To celebrate the centenary of his birth, we bring you a season of Akira Kurosawa films, which begins with the epic Seven Samurai on Friday 20 August. See for yourself why he is known around the world as a master of his art.

And if that wasn't enough, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan will be in our midst, we look at the career of Sean Connery as the Scottish superstar turns 80, and Stephen Fry will appear live via satellite broadcast in The Fry Chronices.

Phew - it's going to be a busy month!

Find out more by visiting www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/filmandimax or downloading our new Film Guide (PDF 2.4MB).

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