BFI Southbank’s TILDA SWINTON season, programmed in partnership with the performer and filmmaker herself, will run from 1 – 18 March 2020, celebrating the extraordinary, convention-defying career of one of cinema’s finest and most deft chameleons. The BFI today announce that a number of Swinton’s closest collaborators will join her on stage during the season to speak about their work together including Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs, The French Dispatch, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom), Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, Okja), Sally Potter (Orlando) and Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir, Caprice). Also announced today is Tilda Swinton’s Film Equipment (28 February – 26 April) a free exhibit to accompany the season which has been curated in close collaboration with BFI and Swinton’s personal archive.
Alongside a programme of feature film screenings, shorts and personal favourites, the season will include Tilda Swinton in Conversation with host Mark Kermode on 3 March, during which Swinton will look back on her wide-reaching career as a performer across independent and Hollywood cinema, as well as producer, director and general ally of maverick free spirits everywhere. On the same evening will be Tilda Swinton and Wes Anderson on stage: A Magical Tour of Cinema – a unique chance to hear from two of the most fervent disciples of the church of make believe, as Swinton and Anderson take to the BFI stage to discuss their many collaborations and their film passions. The event will offer a glimpse into their intimate partnership as the two long-time co-conspirators and voracious cinephiles select and explore personal favourite gems from throughout cinema’s history.
Hot on the heels of Parasite’s historic Oscar wins, Bong Joon-ho returns to BFI Southbank for a screening of Snowpiercer (2013) – his post-apocalyptic thriller set on a train, which remains unreleased in UK cinemas. A rare big screen outing of the film on 1 March will be followed by a Q&A with Bong Joon-ho and Tilda Swinton. On 2 March, Swinton will join director Sally Potter for an extended introduction to their remarkable collaboration Orlando (1992) about a person viewing four centuries of experiences through the eyes of both sexes. Director Joanna Hogg will be on stage alongside Swinton to talk about Hogg’s graduation film Caprice (1986) on 16 March; made more than 30 years before they collaborated on The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019), which also starred Swinton’s daughter Honor, Caprice stars Swinton as a woman who enters the dreamworld of her favourite fashion magazine. Other extended introductions with Swinton during the season will include The Garden (Derek Jarman, 1990) on 12 March, We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011) on 13 March, Julia (Eric Zonca, 2008) on 15 March and I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, 2009) on 17 March.
Swinton will also be on stage on 13 March to introduce her BFI Screen Epiphany – Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway, 1935) accompanied by short film Portrait of Ga (Margaret Tait, 1952), one of Swinton’s favourite films; the event will be hosted by filmmaker and frequent collaborator Mark Cousins. There will also be an event to explore The Seasons In Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger (2016) a cinematic project that Swinton was intimately involved in the making of as writer, producer and director. The project comprises four short essay films focused on the novelist and poet John Berger. On 11 March, there will be an event to explore the project, featuring excerpts from the finished films and a discussion of Berger’s legacy with Tilda Swinton, Bartek Dziadosz and Lily Ford, collaborators on the film.
Accompanying the season will be Tilda Swinton’s Film Equipment, a free exhibit in BFI Southbank’s Mezzanine Gallery running from 28 February – 26 April. This special exhibition has been curated in close collaboration with the BFI; drawing on posters, photography, sketchbooks and more held in the BFI National Archive’s Special Collections, and items from Swinton’s personal archive.
FULL DETAILS OF FILMS SCREENING IN THE SEASON
Tilda’s fresh-eyed curiosity, anarchic spirit and instinct for collecting conspirators were all forged in the intensely creative collaboration she shared with artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman, with whom she made seven feature films. The season will feature screenings of Caravaggio (1986), the meditative and utterly singular biopic of the late-Renaissance painter, which was Swinton’s first film role and remains one of her most cherished. Caravaggio will screen alongside Rompo i lacci From Flavio (Tilda Swinton, Sandro Kopp, 2018), which sees Swinton’s five springer spaniels romp around a Scottish beach to an aria from Handel’s opera Flavio. Also screening will be Jarman’s tour-de-force The Garden (1990), reimagining the life and death of Christ as an allegory for the persecution of gay men. This intimate insight into the ailing filmmaker’s inner world was shot on Super 8, utilising a cast of religious icons that include Jesus, Judas and a skullcap-wearing desert wanderer Madonna played by Swinton. The Garden will screen alongside a segment from an anthology film Aria (segment Depuis le jour, 1987), also directed by Jarman.
Swinton has enjoyed a risk taking, unconventional career, relishing in make believe and shape shifting identities. She won great acclaim for playing the title role in Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1992) about a person viewing four centuries of experiences through the eyes of both sexes; the film is still a convention-defying spectacle to behold over 25 years on – no wonder it’s being feted by the Met Gala this year. Orlando will screen alongside Will We Wake (1998), Swinton’s intimate and epic directorial debut, produced for the anthology film Millennial Fever for BBC2’s art strand Tx. Also screening is Man to Man (1992), John Maybury’s twisted nightmare of a fairy tale, adapted from Manfred Karge’s gender-blurring one-woman play which Swinton performed to great acclaim at the Royal Court Theatre in 1988. It features a phenomenal solo performance from Swinton as a German woman who assumes the identity of her dead husband and goes on to witness the rise and fall of the Third Reich, and many years of German history after, while shapeshifting through multiple personas. Man to Man will be screened alongside Joanna Hogg’s graduation film Caprice (1986) which stars Swinton as a woman who enters the dreamworld of her favourite fashion magazine which Hogg and Swinton made more than 30 years before they collaborated on The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019), which also stars Swinton’s daughter Honor Swinton Byrne, and the forthcoming sequel The Souvenir Part II which is expected later this year.
Revered by the avant-garde and British and World independent cinema, Tilda also seamlessly crosses over into studio films, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and BAFTA for Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007), a thriller about the tentacles of corporate power that feels more relevant than ever in the age of Trump. Also screening will be The Deep End (Scott McGehee, David Siegel, 2001), the taut Hitchcockian thriller which launched Swinton’s Hollywood career. In it she plays an ordinary housewife single-handedly juggling childcare and an ailing father-in-law while struggling to pay a blackmail ransom. In existential drama Julia (Eric Zonca, 2008) Swinton is at her most committed and riveting as a manipulative and desperate alcoholic who becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot. ‘A horror film and the nightmare scenario for anyone who’s ever thought of having a child’ is Swinton’s description of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), adapted from Lionel Shriver’s novel. As a mother struggling to connect with her sociopathic son, Swinton viscerally maps her trajectory from newly-married bohemian to a husk of a woman, ably capturing her conflicting emotions and supressed trauma.
Swinton has worked with a range of auteur filmmakers with big artistic visions and compelling world views, sustaining and developing these relationships by collaborating on a number of separate projects including Luca Guadagnino (The Love Factory, A Bigger Splash, Suspiria), Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, The Limits of Control, The Dead Don’t Die) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Examples of these which will screen in the season include Guadagnino’s I Am Love (2009), in which Swinton excels at embodying urgent desire in one of the great cinematic portraits of sexual awakening. Swinton co-produced, developed the film and learned Italian for this ravishing and epic romance in which she plays a wealthy mother and an interloper in the Milanese aristocracy. Playing a 3000-year-old beatnik vampire, Swinton flexes her comic powers and channels her inner-animal in Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013) a stylish musing on mortality. She was heavily involved in developing the project with Jim Jarmusch, and it’s littered with personal references. Her hypnotic chemistry with Tom Hiddleston’s jaded musician Adam makes for an incredibly charming romance. There will also be a rare chance to see Bong Joon-ho’s masterly Snowpiercer (2013), unreleased in the UK, on the big screen. A ‘mild-mannered man in a suit’ was how Bong Joon-ho’s script originally described the bureaucrat quelling an uprising in this post-apocalyptic thriller set on a train; Swinton delighted in transforming the role into a sadistic monster, complete with dentures and furs.