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Festen and Danish National Cinema

Film, Exhibition & Curation student Sarah Rice explores some ideas around Festen and Danish National Cinema (Submitted as coursework Nov 2012)

National Cinemas are not easy to define and in Alan Williams’ Film and Nationalism, he states that since there is no specific, single universal conversation being had on the topic, many definitions are being formulated. For the sake of introduction and simple understanding, national cinemas can be defined as movements born from specific countries and their political, economic, and cultural movements and backgrounds. In Film in the Public Space, we have explored this concept through a few different national windows. Specifically, we have looked at French Colonialism through the Battle of Algiers and the Danish Dogme 95 Manifesto through Thomas Vintenberg’s 1998 feature film Festen and Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark.

 The film Festen, or The Celebration, is what is known as the first film (Dogme #1) to come from the Dogme 95 Movement created by both Vinterberg and Danish director Lars Von Trier as a means of shaking up the contemporary film circuit and breathing something new into production. The highly acclaimed film, which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival amongst other numerous awards, is about a upper class family coming together for their Father’s 60th Birthday celebrations at their family-run hotel. Over the course of an evening, past truths are revealed, including the eldest son exposing the revelation that his twin sister, having committed suicide recently within that very hotel, had done so as a result of the emotional trauma stemming from being raped by their father. As the horror is revealed through a series of failed dinner toasts, so do the surrealist tendencies of the party guests increase as the actual celebration never seems to end. The result is a realistic portrayal of controversial topics and the surreal ignorance that is introduced as an avoidance mechanism in dealing with such drama. The film adhered to the rules of simplistic filmmaking, camera movements lacking in flair and rigged setups, and no special effects or gimmicks of the Dogme Manifesto. The goal of the movement was the purification of filmmaking by creating rules and subsequently breaking them as they went along.

The conversation born from our screening pushed our class into recognising the conventions as a style akin to reality television. What we see is real life, or what we are supposed to perceive as real life through the lens of the camera. What we are met with in terms of story, like reality shows, is sometimes shocking, creating twist and turns from people’s almost animalistic emotions. Another topic that came up in conversation was, surprisingly given the content, how many people enjoyed viewing the film. Though the topic of rape and incest was heavy and quite hard to stomach at times, it was through our discussion that we realised that a film so stripped down of style is allowed a much smarter stance on substance. It is self aware but unpretentious in its usage of the code. Everything becomes about the characters and the actors’ performances. The three siblings Christian, Helene, and Michael, played by Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, and Thomas Bo Larsen respectively, and the father, played by Henning Moritzen, all delivered almost perfect character performances very similar to onstage, theatrical acting. They had no props, special cinematography, music, or set design to propel off of, using innate human emotion to deliver the very complex, twisting and turning narrative. The editing and post-work relied on very simple editing techniques allowing the viewers to catch the very subtle, yet intricate camera movements done in hand held. The montage scene cutting back and forth between the siblings in their rooms and the scenarios that were playing out in each was particularly smart, revealing, and effective filmmaking.

The Dogme 95 movement is a perfect example of Danish National Cinema, even as a self-produced movement, because the world has come to recognise these conventions as inherently Danish over the course of the last almost 20 years. Festen is a beautiful film, stripped bare and naked of the self satisfaction that, as viewers, we try to achieve through big budget filmmaking. Recent 21st century developments in both consumer and professional camera equipment have made it simultaneously easier to get away from the Hollywood aesthetic and create the penchant that most National Cinemas have for reliance on story. If Festen was made today, the quality of the image may have looked better, but the performances would not have popped as before by comparison.Festen’s success rests in its ability to be rugged and rough around the edges. The innatequalities of some Dogme 95 films create a naturalism that cannot be found in most Hollywood produced film. Even the differences between Festen and Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, a Danish film we also screened in class, are apparent, and this is why I believe Vinterberg’s creation as a first go at the movement is a perfect standard example of self created and self aware national cinema.

Northern Lights Preview 2012

The Northern Lights Documentary Project Debuts (sort of) at Filmhouse. By Film, Exhibition & Curation student: Daniel Thornton (Submitted Nov 2012)

On October 24th in 2012, the Edinburgh Filmhouse hosted a special event previewing the upcoming release of the crowdsourced Northern Lights documentary. The event was featured as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Joining creative director Nick Higgins in attendance were, producers, participants and community media activists attached to the project. Attendees were treated to a preview of the recently completed film’s opening and a few choice submissions. One particularly dramatic submission which made the final cut of the film called Listen was shown along with an emotional appearance from it’s creator Susan Tarkenter.

Northern Lights is an innovative documentary project which attempts to illustrate a user-generated portrait of contemporary Scotland. At the outset of the project earlier in the year, the producers set up a website, Facebook page, Twitter account and put out a call to people all over Scotland to submit short videos documenting what their Scotland looks like. Higgins narrowed the call to ask participants to answer one (or more) of three questions: What can you see? What do you wish you had seen? What would you like to see? The submission window was open from late March 2012 until the end of June. By the time that the window closed the project had received an impressive 300 hours of footage from 1500 submissions.

Northern Lights Trailer

Editing the project down turned out to be the biggest challenge for Higgin’s and the post-production team, but within six months the film had been trimmed down to a suitable feature length with a final tally of 120 co-directors being credited. Higgins had just completed the final edit the week of the Filmhouse event and was eager to get the final touches on the sound and color correction for an anticipated release before the turn of the new year.

By now most of us have heard of the term “crowdsourced” and we probably associate it with the fundraising initiatives hosted by sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo . Crowdsourcing for film and video projects is quickly growing as a primary development tool for independent media producers. Yet, while not unprecedented, crowdsourcing content for a major film project is still relatively rare and that is what makes the Norther Lights project particularly intriguing. Their business model is even more inverted given that the project project’s production costs are being covered by the “Year of Creative Scotland” arts campaign and not by private capital. The production will even be doling out £10,000 in prizes to standout contributions to both the film and the project as a whole.

Most film projects begin their distribution strategies after the production has begun. With it’s grass-roots crowdsourcing strategy, the Northern Lights team were already building a network of potential invested audience members simultaneously while they were creating the content. To augment the submission process the team also hosted 50 special short video workshops across Scotland.

While the final film isn’t likely to be overtly nationalist or even particularly political Higgins has previously stated in an interview with the Skinny that “With digital technology, people have the opportunity to share films about themselves that will have the power to change the way people think. And this is away from their representation on mainstream media, and politicians representing their interests. It’s digital democratisation.”

Lofty goals to be sure. Crowdsourcing (on both ends of a project) is still a relatively new phenomenon. But so far the strategy is proving to be a significant investment redistribution tool for small contributors/investors–Kickstarter claims that it has raised over 325 million dollars measured against a less than 50 percent success rate for proposed projects.

As a content development tool, the proof will be in the film itself. From what we were shown (the opening sequence and some of the individual submissions–less than 15 minutes of the final film) it looks promising. Audiences will ultimately have to judge for themselves once the film hits Scottish screens. Yet the project has proved that alternative approaches to content development through community engagement is a viable community building strategy and possibly a creative innovation.

Film, Exhibition and Curation Alumni News

A few updates from recent graduates of Film, Exhibition & Curation

 

ParisParissima Darabiha (London)

I’ve been done various freelance, marketing jobs for the Barbican Centre since October. Initially, I was invited to help with the promotion of their new cinemas and major film season, Step into the Dark. Step into the Dark brought together blues films and Der Golem, La Grande Bouffe and Fish Tank. Some screenings boasted live musical accompaniment, while others featured Q&As with famous artists, filmmakers and composers. When the season ended, my focus shifted to the Barbican Art Gallery and their new exhibition celebrating French artist Marcel Duchamp, The Bride and the Bachelors. And now, I’m covering for the Marketing Manager in charge of community engagement and special projects. It’s a completely new territory for me, which makes it all the more exciting really.

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Corey Boling (New York)

Situated within the Tribeca Film Institute’s Education Department, my work deals primarily with identifying meaningful ways to incorporate new media into such flagship film and media literacy programs as Tribeca Teaches, the TFI Youth Screening Series, the TFI Film Fellows Academy, and the Blueprint Curriculum Development Steering Committee.  From conducting professional development workshops with educators and students across the New York City Public School system to the development of the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts: The Moving Image, my role within the TFI echoes many of the ideas and ideals that make up the FiPS curriculum while also reinforcing the relevance/power of the moving image across the public humanities today.

KellyKelly Jamieson (Edinburgh)

After finishing school I got a job at Vue Cinema Ocean Terminal as a run of the mill customer assistant.  It wasn’t the best job but I worked hard and managed to get promoted into the management team after 6 months. I am still there now and even though it is not the most exciting job I like it for now. The people are all great and I make enough to live comfortably so can’t really complain. My boyfriend has gone back to school and is only working part time so having a stable job is handy. We are planning a trip to the USA for this summer so he can meet my family and are excited about that. We have not yet determined if we will stay here or move back to the states once he has finished school.

 

meAna Moraes (Edinburgh & Glasgow)

After completing my MSc in Film in the Public Space, I started working as a Development and Research Intern at the Edinburgh International Festival and a Gallery Assistant position at Stills Gallery. In January 2012, I started my PhD at the University of Glasgow, at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research. My work addresses Scottish Film Policy during 1997-2010, investigating how cultural policy is translated into funding schemes. My research particularly focuses on the case study of two funding schemes which had as an outcome the support of distribution and exhibition of Scottish film to larger, wider audiences.

Meanwhile, in March to July 2012 I also worked as Talent Development Coordinator at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, organising and implementing the  2nd year of the festival’s Composers and Sound Lab programmes. Recently, I have started a position as a Development Researcher for the Centre for the Moving Image (Filmhouse/EIFF), looking at funding sources for the organisation’s forthcoming projects. During downtimes, I still work at the Cameo Cinema and enjoy a lovely selection of free films!
More to follow….
 

2013 Collaboration with the Glasgow Film Festival

IMG_1079Once again the students from Film, Exhibition & Curation at the University of Edinburgh had a great time at the Glasgow Film Festival. This year they took the Brazil strand as their inspiration for a film and a party, Samba dancing and music all the way. Pics below and more info at http://carnivalfeatblackorpheus.tumblr.com/

Carnival featuring Black Orpheus

(Catalogue Entry)

Carnival is one of the most anticipated events of the year in Brazil, and now Glasgow can ignite the fiery atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro with its very own Carnival. Kicking off the evening will be Academy Award winner Black Orpheus, a Brazilian classic that retells the Greek myth amidst the riotous colour and rhythm of Rio during Carnival. A unique vision of the country’s true culture, it will set the tone for the festivities that follow. Hop on our samba bus, where you will be whisked off to party the night away with dance workshops and free drinks, in true Brazilian style. The whole experience, not to be missed, is included in the ticket price.

IMG_1071(Black Orpheus Screening Introduction by FEC student Sarah Rice)

Set in the environs of Brazil’s most colorful city, Black Orpheus is nonetheless an international production. With a production team from Brazil, France, and Italy it can rightly claim title as the original contribution to a truly “World Cinema.” Equally impressive was the film’s honors at the time: the Palme D’or at Cannes, The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It is no wonder the worldwide reception and magnitude of acclaim this film has achieved.

The glamor and romance of the film has only grown over time. Before watching the film again…or for the first time—lucky you, we should rememberBlack Orpheus 2 that this film has been an inspiration for many artists and writers and a reminder of the Greek tragedy of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. That myth is faithfully translated and transported into a different world in director Marcel Camus’ film.  Featuring an all black cast–an act of cinema radicalism in 1959–of non-professional actors, Black Orpheus is set in Rio during Carnival, the hedonistic, mysterious and sensual celebration that would soon become synonymous with Brazil and Rio. Over the years, audiences have discovered and rediscovered this film, and from its imagery and spectacle, discovered and rediscovered Brazilian culture and music as well. The film’s most lasting legacy might be its introduction of indigenous forms of Brazilian popular music and dance. 

Black Orpheus 3Black Orpheus introduced the world to the Bossa Nova. Composers and Writers Vinicius de Moraes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Luis Bonfá, together with Camus, created a piece of work that is singular in its musicality. Well beloved songs such as Manhãde Carnaval (Morning of Carnival), written for the film, have become known as the first songs of the Bossa Nova movement. Underneath the music and the dancing there is a political aspect to Black Orpheus. Once a year, the Afro-Brazilian and socio-political influences of Carnival break–down the strict political and economic hierarchies within Brazil, and for a short while, everyone in Brazil is equal, well fed and happy…at least in the movies.With Carnival, we as the audience are presented with a different kind of democracy, and while the essence of Carnival evolves over time, the simple heart of the matter here within the film is one of love and of the colors, songs, and dances of Brazil–The Brazil that we have come to see in our imaginations. The Brazil we have come to love. And it is these feelings and images of this world that we hope you will experience with us tonight. We would like to thank first and foremost the Glasgow Film Festival for allowing and helping us to put on this event for you. 

Black Orpheus

In association with Boteco do Brasil and the Embassy of Brazil in London

Alumni Update

Former Film, Exhibition and Curation student Susanne Scherer began what is bound to be a very exciting and hugely successful career with a job as  ‘Marketing and Social Media Communication Executive’ in a graduate programme. In her spare time she is also collaborating with a former film studies student Leigh Smith on a possible event so watch this space. She writes to thank us ‘for everything and the whole last year – was by far my best year of studies.’ which we, of course, really appreciate. Thanks Susanne and good luck with your career.

Alumni Update

A lovely note of thanks from Fim in the Public Space Student Hara Vlahou, 2011/12, who is graduating next week. Much appreciated, Hara and congratulations on the conference, it looks fascinating. We hope it goes really well.

I would like to thank you for all the support and knowdge you offered me during the master course. The previous year was really one of the most creative and worth-remembering year of my life. Thank you really very much. I would like also to inform you that my paper has been accepted for the 18th International Bremen Film Conference which takes place at 17-20 January in Bremen. This is the link to the confernece
http://www.zemki.uni-bremen.de/en/research/conferences-upcoming/international-bremen-film-conference.html

Student News

Cosima Amelang (2011/12) has been chosen for a fantastic mentorship programme:

Through the Sid Adilman Mentorship Programme, I have been given the opportunity to cover the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012. The programme honours the late journalist Sid Adilman, a strong advocate for the arts in Canada. (He is remembered for his focus on the art of film, rather than the cult of celebrity, and many recall how he attended Cannes in thrift store duds.) During the two-weeks of TIFF, I will be working with Screen Daily and the TIFF Press Office team, writing reviews and articles, conducting interviews, and blogging on the festival website. I am thrilled to have the chance to delve into the world of film journalism, applying what I’ve learned this year in FiPS to work at the largest public film festival.

Adilman obit

Corey Boling (2010/12) is just finishing two extremely competitive interships:

The first is with a human rights/video advocacy organization called Witness.org.  I’ll be working on its YouTube Curation Project.  And the second internship is with the Museum of Arts and Design’s New Media Department working on special projects/web content.

 

 

 

Film Aesthetic Workshop Compilation

This is a compilation clip of the films made by students of The University of Edinburgh during the Film Aesthetics Workshop in 2012. Nor I, nor the University of Edinburgh is a copyright holder and we would like to thank Youtube and the relevant SMEs for allowing us to edit this compilation. (Demelza/Martine)

The footage in the film is either made by students or downloaded from Youtube.

Student Events

For their final projects students are collaborating in two different groups to create the following forthcoming events.

Midnight Sun at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 

and

Under Light and Shadow at Out of The Blue – You can find Hara and Ruei’s  first ever interview  at http://firehorsefindings.leithermagazine.com/files/2012/06/Under-Light-and-Shade-Interview.mp3

We’re very much looking forward to them both. Good luck teams!

Film and FiPS students to help on major BBC Project

BBC

Britain in a Day is an extraordinary project to create the definitive self-portrait of Britain today, filmed by BBC audiences, inspired by Life in a Day.  Ridley Scott and director Morgan Matthews invited everyone in UK to capture part of their day and to upload it to YouTube.  This footage is being used to create an extraordinary film which will be broadcast on BBC Two later this year.

Britain In A Day logo

 BBC Learning will be launching an online archive in June showcasing the full length versions of the videos that made it into the film. The online archive will develop over the following months to show the best of the other films that didn’t make the final film but are still of significant value and offer a unique insight into the UK today.  UoE is one of the Universities partnering with the BBC to  select the videos for the rest of the archive gallery and create playlists which will be showcased on the online gallery.

The BBC will update their page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kqz5p when it goes live

Below is an extract from the blog of BBC Commissioning Editor, Charlotte Moore.

Some of you may remember Video Nation in the 1990s – a really ground-breaking project where the BBC trained a group of people to use what were then cutting edge camcorders to record their lives on video for a BBC Two series.

The result was fascinating, intimate and raw, sometimes funny and often surprising but most importantly it gave the public a chance to tell their own stories – and it showed us what life was really like for people from all walks of life living in Britain at that time.

Flash forward two decades to 2011 and technology has moved on so much that everyday people all over the country are recording snippets of their lives on minicams, mobile phones and digital cameras.

Recording life in Britain has never been easier.

Whether it’s personal family moments, footage of the royal wedding celebrations or shocking images of the summer riots, we’re fast becoming a nation of amateur filmmakers.

And the great thing is that although the footage might be a bit wobbly and rough round the edges, for the first time ever, home videos are high enough quality for us to broadcast.

So for some time now, I’ve been trying to work out how to encourage this new found British talent and reinvent Video Nation for the present day to engage with people’s hopes, fears and passions in this country on a scale that’s never been possible before.

With the Olympics coming to London next year, I think we have the perfect excuse to create a snapshot of Britain and show the world all the variety and intimacy of people’s lives here, whether it’s a nurse working in A&E in Newcastle, a farmer living in the Welsh valleys or a student studying in Edinburgh.

Earlier this year, I started a conversation about this idea with Oscar winning documentary director Kevin Macdonald, whose feature-length film Life In A Day had just premiered atSundance.

Life In A Day used footage shot by ordinary people all over the globe to tell a story of one day on earth, to show future generations what it was like to be alive in 2010.

And it got us both thinking about how we could build on the experience and expertise he gained making the film, and make it work for the UK. Soon afterwards Britain In A Day was officially born.

There is no doubt we are living in interesting times in this country.

We’re in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s with the gap between rich and poor ever widening, and we’re also about to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubileeand play host to the Olympic Games.

So this is your chance to make history, get involved and help us create a definitive self portrait of the UK at an important moment in time.

On 12 November I want you to get out your camera and record something that captures the uniqueness of your life in the UK, whether it’s something you’re worried about, something that makes you happy, or something you particularly like or dislike about living in Britain.

You then need to upload the footage to the Britain In A Day channel on YouTube, where the director Morgan Matthews and his team will begin watching all the footage and cutting a selection of the clips together to make a feature-length film that will be shown on BBC Two next year ahead of the Olympics.

Britain In A Day is about more than just a film though. All the clips uploaded to YouTube will be kept in a permanent online archive – a sort of time capsule for future generations.

Think how fascinating it would have been if our grandparents and great-grandparents had filmed their day and told us what they thought of Britain, their hopes, their dreams and their fears?

I hope this is what the Britain In A Day archive will give to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The success of this project relies on you, so I hope you will take this opportunity to show the world – and future generations – what life here is really like.

Morgan Matthews will be back here before the film is broadcast to let you know how we get on…

Charlotte Moore is the Commissioning Editor of Britain In A Day.

For more information and guides on how to take part, please see the Britain In A Daypage.

Film in the Public Space wins Award

We are delighted that Susan Kemp has been selected as the winner of the 2011/12 EUSA Teaching Award for Developing Student Employability.

These awards are designed to recognise and reward excellence in teaching across the University of Edinburgh, and are nominated and judged by students. In addition to commendations for her work in developing students’ professional skills and building relationships with the industry professionals, Susan’s role in initiating and managing the Film in the Public Space collaboration with the Glasgow Film Festival was particularly appreciated by students.

Film in the Public Space received nominations for Best Course, and Susan and Jane were nominated for excellence in teaching. The MSc in Film Studies was nominated as Best Course and also received nominations for excellence in teaching.

Congratulations to Susan for her deserved win (and gracious acceptance speech) and many thanks to our students for championing Film in the Public Space.

SHORT STOP – a film event

Students from Film in The Public Space took the experimental films they and Film Studies students had made during innovative learning week and came up with a spectacularly unusual way of showing them. Collaborating with Inspace curator Mark Daniels the films were shown on the back wall of the Inspace gallery and the audience watched from outside on the street. This challenged the more traditional exhibition practices and brought excitement and intrigue to the the experience.  Pics below.

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WEIMARVELLOUS

Weimarvellous  – Cosima Amelang

One of the most rewarding aspects of “Weimarvellous” was contributing to a project that celebrated classic favourites and took them a step further with less conventional add-ons, enlivening standards by taking risks. On Friday, for example, The Blue Angel inspired live performances, including improvised contributions from the audience, while Saturday’s live accompaniment to Berlin: Symphony of a Great City was challenged by an experimental Glasgow version. This continual dialogue between different methodologies, with its strong emphasis on improvisation, made for a highly-charged weekend, one not without its nerve-racking moments but never failing to keep me engaged, both as a volunteer and audience member.

As the weekend of events kicked off with The Blue Angel, the atmosphere in the CCA was lively and our team was in high-spirits. The central café-bar space opened up to the growing stream of eager attendees, pleasantly surprised to be welcomed with champagne and cupcakes, while CCA regulars contemplated the vibrant goings-on with curious interest. In a blue wig I otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead in, I was encouraged by my experience of a contagious building of excitement between the public and volunteers. Our fancy dress embellishments struck a chord with audience members, and their budding enthusiasm gave our efforts more stamina and momentum.

Once the last of the latecomers edged into the theatre, we transformed the space for the Cabaret performances to follow and were left with some time to nurse a drink (and engage in guerilla table warfare). I appreciated this chance to reflect a bit on the progression of the event underway with some of my fellow volunteers. While The Blue Angel screening evidenced a recipe for success—how could a classic with Marlene Dietrich and a glass of champagne go wrong?—the audience reception of the upcoming performances was more uncertain. Perhaps I am more accustomed to the on-the-go Washingtonian way of life and fading attention span—people in my hometown seem to charge ahead rather than linger—but I was concerned the crowd would disperse after the film and began to brace myself for the task of corralling freed moviegoers. I was soon proven wrong, as the stream of eager attendees exiting the theatre crowded the bar and filled all available seating without hesitation. I was especially pleased to notice that we managed to sustain a variety of age groups for these Cabaret performances (I imagine there might have been a few elderly individuals traumatized by the dollar bill pasties to come).

More than anything else, I was most nervous about the final act of the night, ‘Cabaroke.’ I had trouble envisioning many people volunteering to sing cabaret numbers in public at 10:30pm without the help of multiple tequila shots. I have to admit, when the emcee opened up the stage to the audience, I expected the invitation to be met with the sound of crickets chirping and, suddenly feeling very vulnerable standing to the side in my blue wig, contemplated running into the back room to stuff my face with the remaining cupcakes. But once again, my nervousness was upstaged by the exuberant personality of our Glaswegian audience. People were keen to participate, leaving no lulls between acts, and some even collaborated with strangers on duets (and here I must credit my fellow classmate Susanne for her rallying efforts). The Cabaroke component showed me the importance of reaching the right audience; less conventional, improvised events can be invigorating successes if hard work goes into audience research and outreach. The value of risk-taking also proved true during Saturday’s programme of events. After the sold-out silent classic with live accompaniment, the “Glasgow: Symphony of a Great City” experiment was followed with an honest discussion, with attendees asking critical questions revealing a willingness to engage with the event beyond passive spectatorship. I left Glasgow with a feeling of great appreciation for the audiences that matched the enthusiasm at the heart of the event organization. I find it apt that my first time at the Glasgow Film Festival gave me a first-hand experience of the local spirit that is so intrinsic to its identity and has strongly contributed to its rise. 

Film In The Public Space students (most easily recognisable as ‘Blue Angels’) photographed their collaboration with the Glasgow Film Festival which is split into two youtube videos below. The pics eally captures the essence of a Glasgow audience out to enjoy themselves.

Also, below is a personal reflection from FiPS student Emma Fyvie on her experiences developing and planning for the events.

Weimarvellous Review – Emma Fyvie

 Think Weimar cabaret and you think of ad-hoc gatherings in seedy underground clubs dealing in alcohol and showing more than a little skin. The process of organising a similar event in 2012 Glasgow involves a bit more planning.

 After a number of meetings to decide on the exact theme of our weekend programme of events with the Glasgow Film Festival, the jets were cooled and a false sense of security set in over December. While the upcoming event interrupted my train of thought frequently over the course of the Christmas holidays, 2012 still seemed a long way off and I was reassured by the fact that no tasks had been set over the festive season – I took the stance that no news was very much good news. Come January the pace quickened and a seemingly endless list of duties to fulfil and details to confirm emerged. But a few weeks of stress, with time off for classes, paved the way for what turned out to be a very successful series of events to which our first four star review is testament.

 Having said that, I never thought the purchase of pearl beads would be the task to bring me to tears. Seven packs of four hundred cream pearls seemed more than sufficient, over cautious if anything, to provide a glitzy foundation to the tea-lights in Kilner jars that would serve as table decorations for our night of cabaret. The day the package arrived induced palpitations as, with only three days until the event, I was confused as to how exactly 2800 faux pearls could fit into an A5 padded envelope. Needless to say, Ebay product pictures are lacking in scale. A desperate online purchase of more beads and a cursing at my enthusiasm to take responsibility for the table decorations followed. ‘Pearl-gate’ reduced this agnostic to prayer, in an attempt to ensure my delivery of craft supplies would arrive on time. I am now the proud owner of sixteen glass Kilner jars and over 5000 pearl beads, and am reconsidering my position on the existence of God.

 Our first night came and as I clinked my way into the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street, jars in hand, a feeling of relief washed over me. Everyone was here and looking amazing in their blue wigs – my one regret is that Primark had sold out when I went to buy my own and I had to settle for a bowler hat instead – and the space exceeded my expectations. A quick application of mascara and fire engine red lipstick and we moved out into the coloured bulb strewn bar to start serving our complementary glasses of Cava to our sold out screening audience. It was only a matter of time of course before I, on Cava pouring duty, would open a bottle destined to foam and spill down the front of my be-pussy-bowed blouse. Still, our black dress code ensured we were free to spill as much Cava over ourselves as we liked – a challenge Susanne took very seriously.

 After our screening of The Blue Angel the cabaret began – a little raunchier than our audience were perhaps expecting – and was followed by a jaw-droppingly popular bout of ‘Cabaroke’. The endless stream of willing participants was largely due to Susanne’s unwillingness to take no for an answer and ensured a dearth of awkward time filling by our MC – the nail in the coffin of any live event. It was the ideal scenario I’d been sceptical would ever happen, but thankfully the Glasgow audience was far more responsive than I’d given them credit for.

Our Saturday started a little earlier, as half of our group arrived in time for a morning rehearsal. Having had no time for breakfast before heading to Waverley, we scoured Sauchiehall Street for a place we were certain would do a full English breakfast as we walked briskly from the station to the CCA. After a productive rehearsal with Synchresis, our incredibly talented sound-design collaborators from the ECA, our small group rushed to our earlier scouted café to find that they did indeed serve a full English, but that we were also the youngest people in there (staff and customers included) by at least forty years. Still, we were hungry and didn’t have time to scour the streets for another potential brunch venue before our next rehearsal time. With hindsight, we had time. The service was mesmerisingly slow and our orders emerged in dribs and drabs to clutter what was the smallest and most rickety of tables. And what does every tiny table need? The most enormous cafetiere with which to serve only the three people who opted for coffee. Our long wait for food was punctuated by incessant time checking and uncontrollable fits of laughter at our Fawlty Towers-esque predicament. When the food arrived the chit chat portion of brunch was over and we ate quickly to make it back to the CCA in time.

The rest of the day was far more relaxed as our screenings filled up and were well-received. Our jazz accompanied showing of Berlin: Symphony of a Great City was even better than the rehearsal, with the exception of a brief period where our DVD copy of the film stuttered a little, causing our row of FiPS students to clench with anticipation, only for the film to sort itself out within seconds. And our Synchresis experiment proved engaging enough to encourage an impressive number of contributions from the audience in its Q&A. With our first ever programme of live events almost at an end, the only thing left to do was regroup with some tapas and wine in the CCA bar. This was an equally successful endeavour by our team of first-time programmers.