Archive for Serge Bromberg

A night on the tiles, a day in the dark

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2018 by dcairns

Yesterday was good —

I woke up and found Fiona asleep on the bathroom floor. She’d gotten up to read, and the only place to do so without disturbing me was the bathroom, so she’d made a kind of nest there and fallen asleep. Weirdly, her night on the tiles put her in a very good mood as neither of us sleeps too well when in a foreign bed, and the packed viewing schedule doesn’t allow enough time anyway…

We rocked up for a set of Segundo de Chomon shorts at 9.00 am, including the beautiful METEMPSYCHOSE, with its unhappy babies, and the interplanetary Japonisme of VOYAGE ORIGINALE. Segundo is, as his name implies, the Second King of Fantasy Cinema, after Meliés, but only just.

Then Marguerite Clark (THE MASTER MYSTERY) donned Pierette garb (a recurring motif this fest) in the surviving reel and a half of PRUNELLA, directed by Maurice Tourneur. The cardboard sets, painted in graphic style, combined with Tourneur’s typical lighting effects to make something of rare beauty, very much like his version of THE BLUE BIRD, made the same year. And it actually contains the line “Oh, Prunella!” as an intertitle. David Ehrenstein should have been there. We’d missed Tourneur’s THE WOMAN, apparently a better film and more or less complete, but surviving only in degraded 16mm form.

That didn’t give us time to make it to Mario Monicelli’s I COMPAGNI, alas, so we dived into one of the Fox series, NOW I’LL TELL, which I had previously viewed but it was vastly improved by the pristine projection and the crowd’s enthusiasm. Fiona was blown away by Spencer Tracy in his early bad boy mode — he has some extraordinary scenes. Also, lot’s of pre-code situations and dialogue. “I was born in the Virgin Islands,” says Tracy’s new mistress. “Oh really, you must have left at an early age,” he purrs, off-mic and with his back to us as they leave the room, making the censor;s job easier, but underselling the joke to make it funnier.

We were all set for RUE DE LA PAIX from director Henri Diamant-Berger, a Natan production, but were kind of warned off it, so slipped into Andre de Toth’s NONE SHALL ESCAPE! For the second time in a row we bagged the last two seats in the house. Movie deals with post-WWII war crimes but was released in 1944, making it a form of science fiction, its title a black irony now that we know all about Operation Paperclip. Excellent perfs from Alexander Knox as a Nazi swine and Marsha Hunt as his former fiancée. The heroic Rabbi is played, completely straight, by Torben “This is a talking picture” Meyer, of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and the Preston Sturges stock company by Richard Hale. De Toth gets some scope out of his small-town Polish setting by repurposing what obviously started life as a western town.

With mathematical speed we swapped DeToth’s hard-hitting melo for a new biopic doc on Sydney Chaplin by Serge Bromberg & Eric Lange. SYDNEY: THE OTHER CHAPLIN marshalls an astonishing range of source materials to paint a well-rounded portrait of this troubling, essential figure, previously glimpsed this fest as the Kaiser in SHOULDER ARMS.

Then came the 7TH HEAVEN postponement, which gave us an early night to catch up on our sleep — in bed, this time. This brings us up to now. It’s 8.14 and Marion Davies takes to the screen in a dual role, with Neil Brand at the piano, in 46 minutes, more or less. I must get cracking.

Airing

Posted in FILM, Politics, Television with tags , , , , on August 16, 2016 by dcairns

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NATAN, the documentary Paul Duane and I directed in 2013, airs today on Arte in France and Germany at 22.15. The film’s TV premiere. Special thanks to all who helped make it possible, and particularly Serge Bromberg for his tireless efforts as distributor. We’re hoping this leads to sales elsewhere, but it’s wonderful in itself — France was always the key place we wanted to play.

“Bernard Natan haunts the history of French cinema…” – Le Monde

“Natan is an extraordinary film!” – Philip Kaufman

“I loved it. It is a very moving, thoughtful documentary” – Bertrand Tavernier

Bernard Natan revolutionised French Cinema. So why was he destroyed, imprisoned, murdered, and then, after his death, why was even his memory turned into a sick joke? – Craig McCall (CAMERAMAN)

Related articles in French and German. You can buy the film via our Facebook page.

Immortal Longings and Immoral Earnings

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2015 by dcairns

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Well, once in a while, things in my movie “career” move rapidly —

Paul Duane and I just heard that, thanks to the tireless efforts of the mighty Serge Bromberg, the rights to all the film clips used in our documentary NATAN have now been cleared in all territories for ten years. This is paid for by a sale to French TV, and Serge’s Lobster Films will be releasing a DVD (this may be the French version of the film only, to give us a chance to sell DVD rights separately in English-speaking territories).

We won’t get rich yet, but the movie is finally starting to achieve commercial release.

The same evening I hear that the Scottish Film Talent Network are funding my new short, THE NORTHLEACH HORROR, which I will direct and which I’ve co-written with regular Shadowplayer Alex Livingstone (of Dune: The Musical fame). Apparently I qualify as “emerging talent,” although emerging from where and to where is uncertain. All that is known for sure is that I have been doing my emerging very slowly.

The short is a standalone story but also the introduction to a character we hope to base a feature film around. We already have the script for that one too.

Now I have to decide whether to raise additional funds with a Kickstarter campaign — the movie is an absurdly ambitious World War Two science fiction horror comedy (that’s a genre, right?) and we need period detail, CGI effects, Nazis, monsters (well, one Nazi and one monster) and a cast that runs quite literally into single figures. How much do you think I could raise? Anybody want to help out? We need lots of old junk, electronics, levers and stuff, and people to cobble it together to create a MAD SCIENTIST’S LABORATORY. How fun is that?