With BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival taking over BFI Southbank from March 17, the first half of the month will focus on two short seasons dedicated to directors Kelly Reichardt and Jacques Becker. As part of Edge of America: The Films of Kelly Reichardt, the visionary American indie director will be on stage talking about her impressive back-catalogue (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, Old Joy) as well as her new film, LFF-Award winner Certain Women (2016), which is released on Friday 3 March and will play on extended run. There will also be a season celebrating the work of Jacques Becker, one of the great but unsung French directors of the post-war era, who learnt his trade as an assistant to Jean Renoir in the 1930s. Ten of Becker’s films including Antoine et Antoinette (1947), Casque d’or (1952) and Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) will screen in the season, with a number of the films having benefitted from recent restorations.
The events programme will include a BFI Members Exclusive with actor Simon Pegg, who will introduce a screening of the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona (1987) as part of our regular BFI Screen Epiphanies series. We’ll also welcome Kate Adie for a special event – Reporting History: Kate Adie in Conversation – in which the journalist and broadcaster will discuss her remarkable career reporting from the front line as the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent. Film previews will include Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant and unclassifiable Elle (2016) starring Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Assayas’ Cannes prize-winning Personal Shopper (2016), the highly anticipated documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack, 2016), which screens in partnership with Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival, and In Between (2016), a dramedy following three female Palestinian-Israeli friends living in Tel Aviv, which we will screen to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March. The screening of In Between is also part of the BFI’s monthly Woman with a Movie Camera strand, which this month marks one year of celebrating women's contribution to filmmaking , history and culture, with much more to come in 2017.
EDGE OF AMERICA: THE FILMS OF KELLY REICHARDT
· FRI 3 MAR, 18:00 – SCREENING + INTRO: Certain Women (2016) + intro by Kelly Reichardt
· SAT 4 MAR, 14:30 – SCREENING + INTRO: River of Grass (1994) + intro by Kelly Reichardt
· SAT 4 MAR, 18:30 – SCREENING + INTRO: Wendy and Lucy (2008) + intro by Kelly Reichardt
· SAT 4 MAR, 16:30 – SPECIAL EVENT: Kelly Reichardt in Conversation
· SUN 5 MAR, 12:00 – 15:00 – TALK: Certain Women and Other Animals: A Kelly Reichardt Symposium
Running from 1 – 16 March at BFI Southbank, EDGE OF AMERICA: THE FILMS OF KELLY REICHARDT will be a season dedicated to one of America’s leading independent directors; Kelly Reichardt’s films are intimate epics, characterised by simple narratives, vast American landscapes, and outsiders who are experiencing loneliness, isolation and monotony. Audiences will be able to hear about Reichardt’s distinctive vision in the special event Kelly Reichardt in Conversation on Saturday 4 March, during which the director will speak about her unique approach to filmmaking. Reichardt will also introduce screenings of her debut feature River of Grass (1994), her first of three collaborations with actor Michelle Williams Wendy and Lucy (2008), and her new critically acclaimed film Certain Women (2016), which is released by Park Circus on Friday 3 March and will play on extended run as part of the season.
Kicking off the season is Reichardt’s disarming first feature River of Grass (1994), about a lost gun and a bored housewife, which playfully flips the Jean-Luc Godard principle of ‘all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl’. River of Grass presents a reversal of genre and gender tropes and is imbued with a love of landscapes, a preoccupation which would go on to influence Reichardt’s later films. After a well-documented break from the film industry during which she taught film production Reichardt returned with her second feature Old Joy in 2006. Will Oldham (also known as musician Bonnie Prince Billy) and Daniel London star as two old friends who are reunited on a camping trip and whose lives have taken very different directions – Mark (London) is about to settle into family life, while the bedraggled Kurt (Oldham) has nowhere to go. The irrevocable and growing distance between the two men is heightened by Reichardt’s eloquent use of the Oregon wilderness as both sanctuary and last frontier.
The profoundly moving study of breakdown and loss Wendy and Lucy (2008) stars Michelle Williams as a young drifter whose aspirations are thwarted when her car grinds to a halt in small-town Oregon and she loses her beloved dog Lucy. The film riffs on the road-movie genre, finely observing the economic fallout of corporate America and boasts a luminous performance from Michelle Williams. In Meek’s Cutoff (2010) three families, led by an untrustworthy scout, deviate from the Oregon Trail and become hopelessly lost. Told from the perspective of three women, this elegiac re-visioning of the western depicts the mounting tension of the group when the men capture a Native American. In the stealthy political thriller Night Moves (2013) a radical environmentalist (Jesse Eisenberg) and society drop-out (Dakota Fanning) drive halfway across Oregon and meet with an ex-marine to execute a meticulously planned act of eco-terrorism. Reichardt’s films are always laced with astute observations about politics, gender and class and this urgent, absorbing film amplifies the political, making it central to the narrative thrust.
Reichardt’s latest film Certain Women (2016), released by Park Circus on Friday 3 March and playing on extended run in the season, won the Best Film award at last year’s BFI London Film Festival. The film is an impeccably quiet study of very different Montana-based women in which the cast, including Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone and Kristen Stewart shine. Completing the season will be Certain Women and Other Animals: A Kelly Reichardt Symposium; through insightful presentations and lively conversation, this event will explore how landscape, feminism, animals and ecology intersect in Reichardt’s work, the way she articulates outsider perspectives, and how these ideas manifest in her subtle, deeply political aesthetic.
FILMS FROM THE HEART: JACQUES BECKER – THE DIRECTORS’ DIRECTOR
From 1 – 16 March BFI Southbank will celebrate Jacques Becker, one of the great but unsung French directors of the post-war era. Becker’s films are filled with love and life and as an assistant to Jean Renoir in the 1930s, he drew from his mentor a commitment to realism and an unwavering sense of human decency. FILMS FROM THE HEART: JACQUES BECKER – THE DIRECTORS’ DIRECTOR will feature ten of Becker’s films including Antoine et Antoinette (1947), Casque d’or (1952) and Touchez pas au grisbi (1954), each possessing Becker’s unique spin on familiar genres, as well as his passion, invention, and a love of ‘Frenchness’ which is matched by few filmmakers.
Becker’s first feature Dernier atout (1942) is a detective story filled with wry humour in the style of The Maltese Falcon. Two ambitious police cadets compete with each other to solve a mysterious murder in a grand hotel, and come up against a brilliant criminal and his sister. Becker’s rural black comedy Goupi mains rouges (1943) bravely contradicted the notion of celebrating country life during the Occupation. The titular Goupi are a corrupt family who all come under suspicion when one of them is murdered for her hoard of money; the authentic accents and setting have made the film into a rediscovered classic. Although made at a time of great deprivation, Becker’s seductively energetic look at the world of haute couture, Falbalas (1945), is regarded as one of the finest films about fashion; a top Parisian designer and seducer of women falls crazily in love with the fiancée of his best friend, resulting in a plot which veers giddily from farce to tragedy.
Becker’s first film made after the Liberation is a joyous and sensuous celebration of the marriage of two Parisian workers; the narrative of Antoine et Antoinette (1947) revolves around a winning lottery ticket which goes astray, with exhilarating opening scenes and a delirious and unpredictable last reel. Rendez-vous de juillet (1949) is one of the finest films about the post-war Paris of St Germain-des-Prés, a microcosm where philosophy, theatre and jazz thrived. Édouard et Caroline (1951) is an offbeat comedy which deals with a young couple whose marriage is broken apart when he – a talented concert pianist yet to be discovered – is persuaded to perform at a party filled with her pretentious friends and rich relations.
Becker’s best-loved film Casque d’or (1952) is probably his masterpiece. Simone Signoret is radiant in the signature role of a woman who leaves her criminal lover for an honest carpenter, with tragic results. This recreation of turn-of-the-century Paris is sublime both in its authenticity and its evocation of Renoir, the painter. Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) boasts a relatively familiar story of thieves fighting over the spoils from a bank robbery, but Becker elevates it by focussing on a rich gallery of characters, dominated by the magisterial Jean Gabin in his first screen role. Becker inherited Montparnasse 19 (aka The Lovers of Montparnasse) (1958) about the painter Modigliani when Max Ophüls fell ill. The film is memorable for the vivid portrayals of the two women in the life of the artist – a masochistic mistress and a devoted model. Becker’s last film Le Trou (1960) is a gripping tale of a prison escape masterminded by four men whose plan is threatened by the arrival of a new inmate. The film had to be completed by his son after Becker sadly died during editing this outstanding parting gift to cinema.
EVENTS, PREVIEWS AND REGULAR STRANDS
· WED 1 MAR / TUE 7 MAR – SPECIAL EVENT: Bug 54 / Onstage: Comedian Adam Buxton
· THU 2 MAR, 18:00 – PREVIEW: Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
· FRI 3 MAR / MON 13 MAR – CULT: The Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty, 1990)
· SUN 5 MAR, 11:30 – BFI FAMILIES: Dr Dolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1970)
· MON 6 MAR, 11:00 – FREE SENIORS’ TALK: Jill Craigie, Film Pioneer
· MON 6 MAR, 14:00 – FREE SENIORS’ MATINEE: Blue Scar (Jill Craigie, 1949)
· MON 6 MAR, 18:15 – SPECIAL EVENT: Reporting History: Kate Adie in Conversation / Onstage: Journalist and broadcaster Kate Adie
· MON 6 MAR, 20:30 – PREVIEW: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
· TUE 7 MAR, 18:30 – SPECIAL EVENT: IMDB Hackathon in partnership with F-Rated
· WED 8 MAR, 18:15 – WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: International Women’s Day London Premiere: In Between Bar Bahr (Maysaloun Hamoud, 2016) + Q&A with special guests TBC
· THU 9 MAR, 18:10 – BFI AND SOUTHBANK CENTRE’S WOW – WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL: African Odysseys present: London Premiere: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack, 2016) + discussion led by Dr Althea Legal-Miller
· THU 9 MAR, 20:30 – EXPERIMENTA: Emergence from Underground: 80s alternative film and video culture and Michael O’Pray
· FRI 10 MAR, 13:15 – BFI AND SOUTHBANK CENTRE’S WOW – WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL: Beyond the Pantsuit: Women and Power
· FRI 10 MAR, 18:10 – SPECIAL EVENT: CTRL ALT DELETE Live / Onstage: writer Emma Gannon
· SAT 11 MAR, 17:55 – LIVE FROM THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN OPERA: La Traviata
· SUN 12 MAR, 20:15 – AUDIENCE CHOICE on the theme of Heroines – pick between Alien (Director’s Cut) (Ridley Scott, 1979) and The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)
· TUE 14 MAR, 20:30 – BFI MEMBER EXCLUSIVE: Simon Pegg Introduces Raising Arizona (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1987) / Onstage: Actor Simon Pegg
· FROM FRI 3 MAR: Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016) – part of the Kelly Reichardt season
BIG SCREEN CLASSICS: THE TIMELESS FILMS WE URGE YOU TO SEE
Until mid-March our regular Big Screen Classics series will feature films which are all notable for their production design or art direction. Sets, Threads and Sellotape: Design in the Movies will feature films which vary in design, from conspicuously flamboyant and exaggerated to subtle and low key. One of these films in the series will be screened on a daily basis for the special price of £8:
· The Boy Friend (Ken Russell, 1971)
· Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
· Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
· El Sur The South (Victor Erice, 1983)
· Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987)
· Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)