All 10 entries tagged British Film Directors
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September 06, 2008
Mike Leigh (1943 - )
(For regular visitors this a relaunched page as my titling errors had made the original one invisible to search engines which were reading something else. There are a couple of additions on this page such as trailers from YouTube)
Mike Leigh is one of the UK's most important contemporary directors. Despite his record of success in making lower budget films his working methods preclude him from accessing the higher budgets required to work on a larger canvas as he phrased it recently in a Sight and Sound interview. His first film, Bleak Moments was financed by Albert Finney who also came from Salford . Many of his films such as Meantime (1983) have been made with the backing of TV companies such as Channel Four and the BBC. They can commission work because they know that a Mike Leigh TV film premier will give the required audience however Leigh along with most other British directors lives in the shadow of the Hollywood film marketing and Multiplex exhibition system which is itself in thrall to the marketing power of Hollywood. Below I have included a brief bibliographical sketch of Mike Leigh and highlighted some of his working methods which come to charactersie his films. His films have an authorial content and approach which significantly distinguishes them from other British films.
Leigh was born in Salford in 1943 into a medical family - his father was a doctor, his mother a nurse. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He first realised he wanted to make films while analysing the cinematic potential of his grandfather's funeral one snowy morning at the age of 12. In his teens he devised comic sketches whilst a member of the Jewish secular socialist-Zionist movement Habonim, In 1960 he left home for London and Rada (which he found "repressive and uncreative"). He followed this by studying at the Camberwell School of Art, and then enrolled at the London Film School. Leigh has since returned to be the Chairman of the Governors at the London Film School since 2000.
Whilst still a student Leigh began to write plays which were largely improvised. This activity eventually spawned Bleak Moments. (1971) and then Hard Labour in 1973 and Permissive Society 1975. Much of the next two decades was spent working mainly in TV. Leigh became recognised for writing powerful TV films such as Nuts in May (1976), and Abigail’s Party (1977). Meantime (1983) was a powerful film about a dysfunctional family and disaffected youth under the growing Thatcher regime at the time of the Falklands crisis which had a limited release in cinemas. It was five years before his next cinematic release High Hopes (1988). It was a film that combined realism with satire of a Swiftian nature. 1990 saw Life is Sweet the dark Naked (1993), Secrets and Lies (1996) which gained both British and American Academy ward nominations and won the Palme d’Or at Cannes). Career Girls (1997) is a form of chamber work. In 2002 the release of the biopic of Gilbert and Sullivan Topsy Turvey (2001) was a very different style to his previous work. 2004 saw the release of Vera Drake (2004) a realist representation of post-war Britain which highlighted the hypocrisy of the society in relation to the position of women of all classes. It became a prize-winner in Venice. In the recent book Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh he cites as his inspirations the British social realists Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson as well as American director John Cassavetes. He also says that directors and playwrights such as Renoir, Pinter and Beckett have influenced him.
Leigh’s Directing Methods
Critics often mystify Leigh’s working methods which are broadly improvisational but often carried out with known actors and crew. This is in essence an auteurial and dynamic approach which many directors from Godard to Loach to Fassbinder have used with variations. Of course it is the stuff of jazz performance: “A haze of rumour and mystique has long surrounded Leigh's unique working methods”, which he has developed over five decades in theatre, television and film. It's generally realised, however, that the process involves intense improvisation, research and close collaboration with his actors.
Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh tends to demystify the Leigh methodology. Leigh has established clear codes of practice such as never letting actors discuss their characters in anything but the third person. Any talk about players getting too close to their parts is firmly discounted. "The whole thing about people becoming the characters doesn't happen, and is not on," Leigh told Jonathan Romney in interview. However any great artist creates a certain indefinable charisma around themselves which is in practice inseparable to their working methods it is what makes Leigh Leigh not a metteur en scene. Leigh points out that:” there's stuff that goes on that can only be understood by people taking part in it."
What emerges from the interviews is that each piece derives directly from, and only from, the collaborative work that produces it, work which begins with the casting. "I cast intuitively," Leigh tells Romney. "I get people and I don't know what I'm going to do with them."
Leigh’s working method like Ken Loach involves a ‘need-to-know’ basis. As a result actors know only what their characters do. Famously during the preparations for Vera Drake, the scene culminating in Vera's arrest emerged from a 10-hour improvising session. At the end of this scene the actors playing the Drake family were entirely surprised by the arrival of actors playing police who had come to arrest Vera.
Sheila Johnston on Leigh’s Methods from the Telegraph
- Leigh meets each actor individually, and he or she talks about dozens of people he has known, intimately or fleetingly. Eventually, one is selected as the starting point for the character: it could just be a bloke glimpsed in the pub one night.
- Over the next months, the actor, along with Leigh, builds up an elaborate alter ego, mapping out his life in enormous detail, down to how his parents met, and exploring every cranny of his psyche.
- Once the individual characters are formed, Leigh gradually brings the actors together for a series of loose improvisations to build up their collective world. None of them knows anything about the film other than their own place in it
- After a while, they go out on the streets to interact with other characters and the unsuspecting public, while Leigh looks on from a distance. The late Katrin Cartlidge, who appeared in Naked and Career Girls, once described him to me as "like David Attenborough and his gorillas".
- Leigh writes an outline of scenes for the final film. The actors improvise specifically around these, while an assistant takes notes. The best lines and moments are distilled and scripted, and shooting can at last begin. This whole process takes about six months.
Actors Often USed by Mike Leigh
Alison Steadman played the title role in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party on both stage and screen. She also appeared in Leigh's films Life is Sweet and Secrets and Lies. She was married to Mike Leigh for 20 years.
Timothy Spall. In 1982 his acting relationship with Mike Leigh started in 1982 in Leigh’s TV movie Home Sweet Home. The collaboration has lasted over 20 years.
Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies . She has worked with Mike Leigh in both TV and Films perhaps most famously in Leigh's Secrets & Lies
Liz Smith made her screen debut in Mike Leigh's first feature film Bleak Moments. She was also in Leigh's TV play Hard Moments.
David Thewlis worked with Mike Leigh in Life is Sweet and Naked.
Sally Hawkins has worked with Mike Leigh in All or Nothing, Vera Drake and most recently Happy-Go-Lucky
Vera Drake 2004
All or Nothing 2002
Topsy Turvy 1999
Career Girls1998 (Requires access to JSTOR)
Trailers From Mike Leigh Films
Secrets & Lies
Taken from YouTube this an extremely powerful extract of Mike Leigh getting the best out of his actors. Make sure you see this film .
Thin Man Films Production company: Mike Leigh & Simon Channing Williams
Mike Leigh and Simon Channing Williams met in 1980. Simon was First Assistant Director on Mike’s BBC film Grown-Ups, starring Brenda Blethyn. They teamed up again when Simon co-produced The Short and Curlies (1987) and High Hopes (1988), both for Portman Productions.
By this time a good worlking relationship was established a close personal and working relationship so they formed Thin Man Films. Since then Thin Man has made eight successful feature films, Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993), Secrets & Lies (1996), Career Girls (1997), Topsy-Turvy (1999), All Or Nothing (2002), Vera Drake (2004) and Happy-Go-Lucky (2008).
Awards to Mike Leigh Films
Secrets & Lies and Topsy-Turvy had nine Oscar nominations between them, Topsy-Turvy winning two.
1996 Secrets & Lies won the Palme d’Or and Best Actress at Cannes. It also won The Golden Lion and the Best Actress at Venice in 2004, as well as six BIFA’s, 3 BAFTA’s including Best Director, and three Oscar nominations
In 1994, Naked won Best Director and Best Actor at Cannes .
Awards Won by Mike Leigh
- Fiaf Awards 2005: Premio Fiaf – Mike Leigh
- Gotham Awards 2004: Lifetime Achievement Award – Mike Leigh
- Taormina International Film Festival 2002: Taormina Arte Award – Mike Leigh
- London Critics Circle Film Awards 2000: Dilys Powell Award – Mike Leigh
- Camerimage 1999: Special Award Best Duo: Director – Cinematographer Mike Leigh / Dick Pope
- BAFTA 1996: Michael Balcon Award – Mike Leigh
- Empire Awards 1996: Lifetime Achievement Award – Mike Leigh
||Box Office Gross
||Debut Weekend Gross
|Secrets and Lies
|All or Nothing
|Life is Sweet
|*Still on release
||Gross until May 26 2008
Thin Man Films (Mike Leigh's Official Site)
BBC4 Interview with Mike Leigh interviewed by Isobel Hilton (There are several short downloadable audio interviews available here)
Mike Leigh could be only holder of awards at Venice, Berlin and Cannes. Guardian Feb 2008
Mike Leigh awarded a Doctorate by Essex University. (Full list of awards available here)
Clements, Paul. 1983. The Improvised Play. London: Methuen
Coveney, Michael.1996. The World According to Mike Leigh. London: HarperCollins
Movshovitz, Howie (ed.)2000. Mike Leigh Interviews. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi,
Raphael, Amy.ed. 2008. Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh. London: Faber and Faber
April 17, 2008
Alberto Cavalcanti (b Rio de Janeiro, 1897 – Paris 1982)
The traitor is rumbled in Cavalcanti's Went the Day Well (1942)
Alberto Cavalcanti was a director and producer and enjoyed a distinguished career as an avant-garde film-maker in France. Rien que les heures (1926) shot on the streets of Paris. It was the first of the ‘City Symphony’ films made in Europe during the 1920s and preceded the better know Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) by Ruttman. It was very influential amongst the documentary movement at the time. He was making ‘quota quickie’ comedies for Paramount’s Paris studio in the early 1930s when he was invited in 1934 to come to England by John Grierson to join the GPO Film Unit. Cavalcanti was enormously influential in this British documentary movement encouraging realist film making to have a wider aesthetic dimension. He was very influential in the making of Night Mail (1936) and other of the best known works of the GPO Film Unit (See filmography below).
Exploring the possibilities of montage and sound he was foundational in developing the poetic style developed by his leading disciples Ken Lye and Humphrey Jennings. In 1940 when the GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit and was intimately connected with making propaganda films it was more appropriate that as a Brazilian and therefore an ‘alien’ that he not be head of the Crown Film Unit. Cavalcanti therefore joined Ealing studios supervising both documentary and feature out at the studio and directing the influential propaganda film Went the Day Well? (1942). He made the musical Champagne Charlie (1944) making Ealing comedies more sophisticated. He made another three films with Ealing including the crime drama They Made Me a Fugitive (1947). From 1949 he divided his time between Europe and Brazil where he helped to establish its nascent film industry and founded the Brazilian Film Institute.
Michael Balcon credited Cavalcanti with having a special role within Ealing Studios because his most important job was training new directors who included Robert Hamer, Charles Frend and Charles Crichton all of whom went on to make important British films in the 1940s and 1950s. Balcon talking about Ealing has commented “The whole of the Ealing output has a certain stamp on it. Whether I would have done it on my own I don’t know. But most certainly I acknowledge… that of all the help I got his is the help that is most important”.
Filmography (Important British Films)
Pett & Pott (1934)
Coal Face (1935)
Went the Day Well (1942)
Dead of Night 'Ventriloquist's Dummy' episode [Portmanteau film] (1945)
They Made Me a Fugitive (1947)
Producer & Sound Supervisor
Four of the best known documentaries from the GPO film Unit
Song of Ceylon (1934)
Night Mail (1936)
North Sea (1938)
Spare Time (1939) Humphrey Jennings
Many of these films will be readily available on the forthcoming BFI multiple DVD
Land of Promise available from 28 April 2008
Aitken, Ian (ed.) 1998. The Documentary Film Movement: An Anthology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (pp. 179-214)
Aitken, Ian, Alberto Cavalcanti: Realism, Surrealism and National Cinemas (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 2000)
Caughie, John & Rockett Kevin. 1996. The Companion to British and Irish Cinema. London: Cassell
Cavalcanti, Alberto, Filme e realidade (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Artenova, 1977)
Hillier, Jim, Alan Lovell, and Sam Rohdie, 'Interview with Alberto Cavalcanti', Screen v.13, n. 2, 1972, pp. 36-53
Monegal, Emir Rodriguez, 'Alberto Cavalcanti', The Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television v. 9, n. 4, 1955, pp. 341-358
Russell, Patrick. 2007. 100 British Documentaries. London: BFI
April 06, 2008
Jill Craigie (1911-1999)
Jill Craigie seems to have been Britain's second woman film maker after Kay Mander and has a cinema named after her at Plymouth University. This is the city where she made her post-war planning film The Way We live (1946). As well as being a film maker and screenwriter she was also a researcher into the Suffragettes and wrote an introduction to Emeline Pankhurst's autobiography My Own Story published by Virago in 1979. Jill Craigie was also an alumni at Indiana University although they forgot to put in the fact that she was a documentary filmmaker(!): "Alumni of the Institute of Advanced Study (Academic Fellows, Distinguished Citizen Fellows and Visiting Scholars) - 1982-2007":
Jill Craigie, Historian of women's movement, journalist, screenwriter. (Distinguished Citizen Fellow in September of 1991)
The Way We Live was backed by Fillipo del Guidice of Two Cities films which was a brave decision backing a young woman with little experience as a filmmaker. Craigie made another film concerned with planning and post-war redevelopment in Middlesborough called Picture Paper. The only evidence I can find about this is present on the website below:
Over 10,000 people saw the exhibition in one week. The Picture Post articles stimulated a documentary film made by Jill Craigie - Picture Paper - a story of the photographer / reporter who come to Middlesbrough to see and interview the Group at work and was shown in cinemas all over the country. (History of Max Lock Group)
A biopic of Emmeline Pankhurst an uncompleted film project
Carl Rollyson author of the 2005 biography of Craigie To Be A Woman has commented upon this in the Virginia Quarterly Review of Spring 2003 which I have cited at length as it is a good example of what a film maker must overcome when trying to make documentaries about controversial figures:
So influential has Sylvia's narrative become that when former Labor Party cabinet minister Barbara Castle published a short study of the Pankhursts she blithely relied on Sylvia's The Suffragette Movement without noting any of its numerous inconsistencies and biases, flaws that June Purvis identifies. Jill Craigie (1911—1999), a lifelong student of the suffragettes, and wife of former Labor Party leader Michael Foot, was so outraged at Castle's ignorance that she called her up and threatened to "flatten her." Craigie, a staunch Socialist and Labor Party loyalist, nevertheless knew from firsthand experience how brutal Sylvia had been in her quest to superimpose her narrative of Votes for Women on the memory of her mother. In 1940, Craigie had read Sylvia's The Suffragette Movement and had been captivated by its "rich" writing. Sylvia saw history, Craigie commented, with the "eyes of an artist." But in 1943, when Craigie decided to write and direct a documentary on the suffragettes, she found herself pitted against Sylvia and other suffragettes who fought over who would act as advisor to the film and thus control the master narrative of their story. The film never got made because of this internecine warfare, and Craigie spent the next several decades of her life assembling a massive collection of material and writing a book (left incomplete at her death) that exposes how Sylvia distorted her mother's legacy. As I will show in a forthcoming biography of Craigie, she is the missing link between West and Purvis. Craigie is partly responsible for the rediscovery and reprinting of West's work in the 1970's and is the key transitional figure who leads to Purvis' brilliant demonstration that during and after the war Emmeline Pankhurst not only did not abandon her principles, but saw the war and its aftermath as a way to implement them. Although there are many reasons why Craigie did not complete her epic work (a substantial manuscript of over 200,000 well-polished words), one consideration surely is the massive criticism she would have endured in her own party for putting one of Britain's Socialist icons on the rack.
Sadly this kind of wrangling led to the film about Emmeline Pankhurst never being made. Below are a list of relevant links following a Google search down to page 20. I have now ordered the biography of her by Rollyson which should enable a deeper introduction to her role in the film world to be written. In the meantime there are a range of useful links provided below.
A full list of credits for Jill Craigie is available at the Screenonline database. (It does miss out Paper Picture)
Two Hours from London (1995) [Self funded Documentary screened on BBC2]
To Be a Woman (1951) Jill Craigie
Blue Scar (1949) Jill Craigie [Blue Scar, a film exploring the implications of coal industry nationalisation in 1947, is a considerable achievement.]
Children of the Ruins (1948) Jill Craigie [Documentary]
The Way We Live (1946) Jill Craigie [Postwar Planning] YouTube extract can be viewed here sorry not embeddable):
Picture Paper (1946) Jill Craigie [The evidence for the existence of this film is History of Max Lock Group]
Out of Chaos (1944) Jill Craigie
Windom's Way (1957), screenwriter
Trouble in Store (1953), uncredited screenwriter
The Million Pound Note (1953), screenwriter
The Flemish Farm (1943), screenwriter (credited as "Jill Dell")
Blair joins tributes to Jill Craigie BBC 1999
UK Women force removal of Koestler bust. BBC story on Koestler'ws sexual violence
There is an interview of Jill Craigie avaible from the UEA BECTU website but you will need to have formal access
- Macnab, Geoffrey (1993). J. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07272-7.
- Rollyson, Carl (2005). To Be A Woman: The Life Of Jill Craigie. Aurum Press. ISBN 1-85410-935-9.
- Dr Gwenno Ffrancon published ‘The same old firm dressed up in a new suit’: Blue Scar (Craigie, 1949) and the portrayal of the nationalisation of the coal industry in Media History. This article examines how a film, Blue Scar, made in 1949 by Jill Craigie, the filmmaker, feminist and wife of Michael Foot, portrays the changes brought about by nationalisation in the South Wales coalfield in the late 1940s.
- Entiknap, Leo. 2001. Postwar Urban Redevelopment, the British Film industry and The Way We Live. In Shiel, Mark and Fitzmaurice Tony eds. Cinema and The City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context. Oxford: Blackwell
- Leo Entiknap's PhD thesis is available including work on Cragie's film The Way We Live can be downloaded here.
- Two articles may be downloaded without cost from Women's History Review, Volume 9 Issue 1 2000 on Jill Craigie. One by June Purvis and the other by Ursual Owen.
March 30, 2008
David Lean (Croydon 1908 - 1991)
David Lean filming the funfair sequence of This Happy Breed
David Lean was the son of Quaker parents and as such the cinema was forbidden territory on religious grounds. Lean disobeyed his parents and saw the Hound of the Baskervilles (1921) and was instantly won over to cinema. Lean entered the film business in 1927.
Throughout his career David Lean was closely involved with editing
Lean concentrated on editing whilst closely observing how directors worked, he nevertheless laregly avoided making the ‘quota quickies’ as he was concerned that these wouldn't help his career. He quickly gained the reputation for being the best editor in the country working on Pygmalion (1938), and Powell and Pressburger’s 49th Parallel (1941). Lean then worked with Noel Coward on In Which We Serve (1942). Lean then made Blithe Spirit (1945) a Coward play which Coward felt he had not made the best of.
Celia Johnson as Laura Jesson & Trevor Howard as Dr. Alec Harvey from David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945).
Brief Encounter (1945) was based upon a one act play by Coward. It had a disastrous preview which had the audience in hysterics nevertheless the film has now become a classic.It can however be seen as a very conservative film as its basic message is part of an overall post-war message that women should get back to their prewar positions in society following the much freer moral milieu of wartime Britian especially in London and the big cities.
Kevin Brownlow argues that Lean’s two Dickens adaptations of Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948) are still regarded as the finest among all British films. Unsurprisingly American critics in particular complained that the representation of Fagin was deeply anti-semitic and was similar to much Nazi anti-pre-war propaganda. They were so effective that the filkm wasn't released immediately and had to be edited before its eventual release. Lean's defence was that the looks of the character were modelled on the original illustrations for the text by Cruickshank and that furthermore as a Quaker he didn't have any notion of what anti-semitism was. This is a little hard to swallow from somebody who had an astute and acute visual awareness. There can have been few adults in 1948 who were unaware of the realities of the 'Holocaust' and at best this representation could be considered as insensitive. Who is to say that Cruickshank wasn't anti-Semitic in any case?
Alec Guiness as Fagin on the right in Lean's Oliver Twist (1948)
Passionate Friends (1948) followed. Madelaine (1949) by comparison fared rather les well being seen by many as cold tributes to his third wife. In the 1950s he progressed through The Sound Barrier (1952), to Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957 UK) gaining several Oscars including best picture and best director. In 1962 he made Lawrence of Arabia which also received many awards and is considered by many as a masterpiece. This was followed in 1965 by Dr. Zhivago which received public support through the box office despite many reservations from critics.
Sarah Miles in Ryan's Daughter (1970)
Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was seen as a very old fashioned picture and was badly received by critics although it can now be seen as interesting in its representation of Irish resistance to British rule. In 1984 He made Passage to India which gained critical plaudits and academy recognition. He died just before shooting on Nostromo was about to start. In the August editionof sight & Sound Nick James argues that it was Lean that was the grandfather of the British 'Heritage Film' making specific reference to Passage to India (1984). Arguably Lean's contributions to heritage cinema are embedded in most of his cinematic output. Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, seem to be infused with a sense of nostalgia a sense of a mythical golden age which was somehow lost. Most of them show a sense of anxiety with the processes of change and a loss of the notions of fairness and fairplay which Powell & Pressburger had hearlity dismissed in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
Money for Speed (1933). Directed Bernard Vorhaus. (David Lean Editor)
The Ghost Camera (1933). Directed Bernard Vorhaus. (Editor David Lean)
As You Like It (1937). Directed Paul Czinner (David Lean Editor)
Pygmalion (1938). Directed Anthony Asquith (David Lean Editor)
49th Parallel (1941). Directed Powell & Pressburger (David Lean Editor)
One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942). Directed Powell & Pressbuger (David Lean Editor)
In Which We Serve (1942). Directed David Lean & Noël Coward
This Happy Breed (1944). Directed David Lean. [First official credit as sole director]
Blithe Spirit (1945. Directed David Lean
Brief Encounter (1945). Directed David Lean
Great Expectations (1946). Directed David Lean
Oliver Twist (1948). Directed David Lean
The Passionate Friends (1948). Directed David Lean
Madelaine (1949). Directed David Lean
The Sound Barrier (1952). Directed David Lean
Hobson's Choice (1953). directed David Lean
Summer Madness (1955). Directed David Lean
The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957). Directed David Lean
Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Directed David Lean
Doctor Zhivago (1965). Directed David Lean
Ryan's Daughter (1970). Directed David Lean
Passage to India (1984). Directed by David Lean
Sight and Sound August 2008. Nick James David Lean special feature Part II
Sight and Sound July 2008. Nick James David Lean special feature Part I
Anthony Asquith (1902-1968)
Anthony Asquith by Helen Wilson in the National Portrait Gallery
Anthony Asquith was born in 1902 whose father Herbert Asquith became the Liberal Prime Minister of the UK from 1908-1916. He gained the nickname of 'Puffin' and was educated at Winchester and Oxford. Drazin notes Asquith's enthusiasm with film as an undergraduate when he sometimes saw up to three films a day.
Upon leaving university he went to Los Angeles for about six months where he came into contact with many of the leading figures in the film industry. On his return to the UK he was determined to enter the film business which wasn't then consider a 'respectable'career for somebody of his background as Drazin notes:
At the time it was an extraordinary aspiration for someone of his class to have, the cinema generally being frowned upon as a rather tawdry diversion for the masses... . (Drazin 2007 p 187)
Early Years in the Industry
He went to work with Bruce Woolfe for British Instructional Films which was a company formed in 1919 that specialised in documentary reconstructions of World War 1 as well as a series of natural history documentaries. In 1925 Asquith was so embedded in film culture he became a founding member of the London Film Society and was enthusiastic about all the latest films from Germany, Russia etc. In 1926 he joined Woolfe at the Stoll Film Company in Cricklewood as a general assistant. Asquith was to direct 4 short films in the late 1920s. His first sound film was Tell England (1931). Asquith joined Gainsborugh Films in 1932 and worked on both screenwriting and directing. In 1935 he joined Korda's London Films directing Moscow Nights in 1935. In 1937 he became President of the recently formed Association of Cine Technicians. He held this position until 1968 when he died of cancer in February whilst working on a film.
The recently released Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) from BFI has been regarded by many as providing the evidence that at this stage in his career Asquith was at least as good as if not better than Hitchcock.
Asquith's breakthrough film was Pygmalion (1938) on which George Bernard Shaw himself worked on the script. It gained a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and gained Oscars for adaptation and its screenpaly. It was Shaw who won the latter. Asquith's next film French Without Tears (1940) was the first of ten films which he directed in collaboration with Terence Rattigan the playwright.
Asquith During the War
Asquith's Wartime output was prolific it encompassed straightforward war stories such as We Dive at Dawn, Spy Thriller propaganda such as Cottage to Let (1941), comedy as in Quiet Wedding (1941)and also the well-known Gainsborough melodrama Fanny by Gaslight (1944).
Phyllis Calvert and Margretta Scott in Fanny by Gaslight (1944)
Asquith's Postwar Output
After the war Asquith continued to make films on a regular basis of around one per year. He made several films which Terence Rattigan had scripted including Rattigan's most successful plays The Winslow Boy (1948) and The Browning Version (1951).
The Browning Version
Asquith also continued to make films from the British literary repertoire such as The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). Asquith worked in a number of genres and ended up working on large budget co-productions with US companies. Despite promising beginnings Asquith never became a director who own powerful vision came through as something of an auteur unlike his contemporary Alfred Hitchcock. Asquith has been considered as more of a metteur en scene.
From Asquith 1952 version of The Importance of Being Earnest
The Browning Version (1951)
The Winslow Boy (1948)
While the Sun Shines (1947)
The Way to the Stars (1945)
Fanny by Gaslight (1944)
Two Fathers (1944)
The Demi-Paradise (1943)
We Dive at Dawn (1943)
Cottage to Let (1941) Not yet open
Quiet Wedding (1941)
Freedom Radio (1941)
Rush Hour (1941)
French Without Tears (1940)
Channel Incident (1940)
A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)
Geoffrey McNab on Asquith: Guardian 2003
Caughie, John with Rockett, Kevin. 1996. The Companion to British and Irish Cinema. London: Cassells
Drazin, Charles. 2007. The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s. London: I. B. Tauris
British Directors (Non-Contemporary) Hub Page
For current or recently passed away British Film Directors please go to the Contemporary British Directors Hub Page.
This page is designed to allow visitors to access information on a range of past British diectors and where appropriate informational hubs and critiques of specific films as these are developed. The links are both internal and external ones
Non-Contemporary British Film Directors
Anderson, Lindsay (1923-1994)
Lindsay Anderson (Above)
Asquith, Anthony (1902-1968)
Anthony Asquith (Above)
Roy and John Boulting (Above)
Box Muriel (1905 - 1991)
Muriel Box (Above)
Alberto Cavalcanti (Above)
Jill Craigie with Husband Michael Foot (Above)
Douglas, Bill (1937-1991)
Dupont, E.A. (1891-1956)
Forbes, Bryan (1926-)
Frend, Charles (1909-1977)
John Grierson (1898-1972)
Grierson, Ruby (1904-1940)
Hamilton, Guy (1922-)
Korda, Alexander (1893-1956)
David Lean on set
Lee, Jack (1913-2002)
Lee Thompson, J. (1914-2002)
Lester, Richard (US 1932-)
Losey, Joe (US but made many important films in Britain 1909 - 1984)
Mackendrick, Alexander (1912-1993)
Powell, Michael (1905-1990)
Pressburger, Emeric (1902-1988)
Reed, Carol (1906-1976)
Reisz, Karel (1926-2002)
Tony Richardson (Above)
Roeg, Nicolas (1928-)
Russell, Ken (1927-)
Watkins, Peter (1935-)
Young, Terence (1915-1994)
For a useful range of biographical information also see the Screenonline Directors in British and Irish Cinema
December 30, 2007
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. 2006. dir Ken Loach
(Palm d'Or Winner, Cannes Film Festival 2006)
Currently there has been no time to give the film a proper review however interested visitors can follow the links below. From the perspective of contemproary British cinema winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes is highly prestigious and very unusual for a low budget left-wing fim maker.
The top 20 UK films grossed £151 million at the box office in 2006 with Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, Flushed Away, The Queen, Stormbreaker, Children of Men, The History Boys and The Wind that Shakes the Barley the most popular. The latter proved to be Ken Loach’s most successful film to date whilst also picking up the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival. (My emphasis, cited in Screen South film Report for 2006)
Sweet Sixteen: The Wind That Shakes the Barley . This site is part of the Ken loach production team and provides a wealth of information about the film and is a good first port of call
BBC Ken Loach interview (Trailer also viewable)
Wikipedia on the original song "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" inspiring the film.
Film Availability :
December 24, 2007
Andrea Arnold (1961- )
Andrea Arnold. (Photo by Sara Lee)
Along with many other British director entries this entry is 'work in progress' nevertheless it will provide a basic signposting to other available resources on the web in the first instance until I'm able to make a fuller evaluation.
Extract from the short film Wasp (2003)
Funding Regime: for the purpose of studying Contemporary British Cinema as most of them are small budget compared to Hollywood films it is important to be aware of the funding sources. Raising funds is only one hurdle which is linked to issues of distribution and exhibition. The reality is that it is very hard to see British films in British cinemas. (See the entry on The Irresistable Rise of the Multiplex for a partial explanation of this problem. Also see entry The Role of TV in the British Film Industry).
Co-funded by the UK Film Council's New Cinema and Development funds, BBC Films, the Glasgow Film Office and Scottish Screen, the film was produced by Glasgow-based Sigma Films in collaboration with Lars Von Trier's Zentropa Films.
Full Feature Films
Red Road (2006)
Wasp ( 2003)
Verve Pictures. Full Production notes downloadable as a PDF.
Greencine interview with Andrea Arnold at Toronto Film Festival
Lynne Ramsay (1969-)
Along with many other British director entries this entry is 'work in progress' nevertheless it will provide a basic signposting to other available resources on the web in the first instance until I'm able to make a fuller evaluation.
Morven Callar (2002)
June 16, 2007
British Directors in Contemporary British Cinema
All active links lead to in house pages on the specific director. Some are still under construction and may not be currently accessible. Please try again soon.
Each page will have a specific webliography and will also have both internal and external links to a range of their films. Obviously this is a major development undertaking and there are currently 30 directors listed below with some more who need to be added.
Apologies for any shortcomings. British contemporary cinema is going to be a key development area in the coming weeks as many visitors are likely to be having an exam on it in the summer. It is recommended that you vist the relevant pages reasonably frequently as there will be quite a lot of change. Pages will be opened as soon as possible and the priority will be to provide a range of the best possible current web links which are considered as good quality.
I hope you will find the system useful.
This posting is aimed at the interested general viewer in keeping up to date with British Films and film makers. It also functions as a core resource for the current OCR A2 Unit on Contemporary British Cinema.
Please note the term British Cinema is not the same as British Films. Cinema refers to the industrial systems of production, distribution, and exhibition as a whole. It can also refer to the criticics and reviewers who are employed at any given moment. Directors and the films they make here are only a small part of the industry as a whole.
The list below is primarily taken from the BFI Screenonline Directors on British and Irish Cinema. There are a couple of inclusions of directors who don't really make films in the UK or about the UK. Sir Ridley Scott being one of these and Sir Alan Parker being another. They tend to prove the rule that Hollywood is the global centre of filmmaking which is both American and yet has an extra dimension to it which proves highly attractive to the most successful filmmakers in the world in terms of gaining audiences at least. There are some surprising omissions from the Screenonline listings such as Paul Greengrass. Here I have linked to Wikipedia in the first instance.
List of Contemporary British Directors
Arnold Andrea (1961 -).
Attenborough, Richard (Lord) (1923 - )
Bird, Antonia (1959 - )
Boyle, Danny (1956-)
Branagh Kenneth (1960 -)
Broomfield, Nick (1948 -)
Chadha, Gurinder (1960 - )
Dibb Saul (?)
Daldry, Stephen (1961 - )
Davies, Terence (1945 - )
Forsyth, Bill (1946 -)
Gavron, Sarah ( )
Gilliam, Terry (1940 - )
Greenaway, Peter (1942 -)
Herman, Mark (1954-)
Joffe Roland (1945 - )
Jordan, Neill (1950 -)
Julien, Isaac (1960 - )
Kapur, Shekah ( )
Leigh, Mike (1943 - )
Loach, Ken (1936 - )
Madden, John (1949- )
Meadows, Shane (1973 -)
Parker, Alan (Sir) (1944-)
Poliakoff Stephen (1952-)
Potter, Sally (1949 -)
Ramsay Lynne (1969 -)
Ritchie Guy (1968 - )
Scott, Ridley (Sir) (1939 -)
Winterbottom, Michael (1961 - )
Wright Joe (1972- )
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