Tag Archives: Documentary

Mark Cousins on ‘The Eyes of Orson Welles’, documentaries and Netflix

Director, critic and curator Mark Cousins returns with essay feature The Eyes of Orson Welles, a documentary, divided into five chapters, that explores the legendary filmmaker through a subject that’s rarely come up in the multiple existing biographical portraits of the man: his paintings and sketches, many of which have never before been displayed for public consumption outside of this film.

Invited to his Edinburgh flat to see a few of Welles’ drawings up close, prior to a summer exhibition in the city, we spoke to Cousins about collaborating with Welles’ daughter, Beatrice, avoiding clichés about the filmmaker, inspiring documentaries, Donald Trump, and his thoughts on Netflix’s handling of Welles’ final film, which is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

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Local Heroes: new Scottish features at Edinburgh 2018

Before launching its full programme, the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival announced the films in the lineup with notable Scottish connections. It’s standard practice for this festival, presumably tied to obligations to sponsors such as Creative Scotland, to give the slate of local productions a profile-boost before breaking out the international big guns.

Of late, this tease has proved more foreboding than enticing. With a few exceptions (such as Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio), the quality of British features receiving their world premiere at the festival in recent years has been especially patchy, and a number of the particularly dire ones have, in my experience, been those with a local connection. Romantic comedy Scottish Mussel (2015) may still be the worst feature I’ve seen at any film festival.

This year’s Scots-focused preview looked more promising, however, both for the world premieres as well as titles accruing buzz from festivals abroad. Despite the odd dud, the quality, variety and, in some cases, ambition of the features under the broad banner of Scottish filmmaking proved reflective of the state of this year’s programme as a whole…

Full feature for Sight & Sound

Best from the West: three new Scottish features at Glasgow Film Festival 2018

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival was hit by an unprecedented series of setbacks, largely thanks to the combined efforts of Storm Emma and the cold wave dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’. Across three days in its second week, dozens of screenings and events were cancelled due to snow-related safety risks, while much of the talent scheduled to appear, as well as attendees not staying in Glasgow, were unable to reach the city…

Full feature for Sight & Sound

Michael Winterbottom on Wolf Alice doc ‘On the Road’

“Living on a bus is not to be recommended.”

We’re speaking to the ever prolific British director Michael Winterbottom about his new film, On the Road, in the decidedly calm confines of a publicity company’s meeting room, where the only wheel-based peril comes when we almost trip over an office chair on our way out at the end of the interview.

Despite a resume that includes various road movies (Butterfly KissIn This WorldThe Trip and its sequels) and films built around a clear love for music (24 Hour Party People9 Songs), On the Road is, somewhat surprisingly, Winterbottom’s first foray into the mode of the tour documentary. This is no ordinary rock doc, however…

Full interview for The Skinny

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2017

Returning for its fifth instalment (and second in a row at the lavish Picturehouse Central), the team behind this year’s Sundance London gave British audiences a flavour of the American indie scene of 2017. As well as bringing together UK, European or international premieres of various buzzy titles that made their initial bow at the main Sundance Film Festival back in January, this year also offered big screen revivals of some past Sundance premieres of note (Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape among them) and the first instance of a surprise film (Patti Cake$, out on general release this autumn), as well as the usual shorts programme and filmmaker talks.

This year’s main lineup was a mixed bag quality-wise, and it certainly didn’t look great that only one of the 14 premiering features (Marianna Palka’s Bitch) was directed by a woman – last year had three, including closing film Tallulah. That said, the strongest titles were very strong, and there was definitely variety to the stories and filmmaking styles on display. The Skinny caught the vast majority of this year’s feature lineup, so here’s an unranked top five of some of the most notable or distinctive films on offer, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas or on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

Raoul Peck on ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ & James Baldwin

In such troubled times as our current moment, where Western society seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past by stalling or demolishing progress in various forms, it is important to take heed of the words of those whose commentary has only become more relevant with time.

The late James Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, political activist and social critic, best known for his articulations of the unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual and class tensions in Western societies. Being both black and gay gave Baldwin an insight into very specific experiences, but Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, himself a political activist, believes that Baldwin’s words resonate beyond race and sexuality…

Full interview for The Skinny

Lost in France (Niall McCann, 2016)

In the late 1990s, a group of musicians involved with Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow-based independent record label, hired a bus and went on a road trip to a town in rural France to play a one-off concert. Two decades on, a reprisal of the trip for some of those originally involved is the backbone for Lost in France, director Niall McCann’s affectionate, intimate documentary on the label – exploring what’s made Chemikal Underground and its acts endure for 20-odd years…

Full review for VODzilla.co