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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Defending Cinephilia (9) - Neil McGlone reflects on a very active year

Defending Cinephilia in 2016? Well, I fear that this year will be remembered more for it’s politics than anything else with both Brexit and Trump affecting me personally (my wife is still an American citizen). But we voted for neither and will have to live with the consequences of those that did! It’s also been a year where we seem to have lost a higher-than-normal number of well known faces from the entertainment industry, some like Bowie and Prince, completely unexpected. Anyway, to the point of our topic.

Neil McGlone onstage at the Riverside Theatre, Woodbridge UK
Personal highlights for me this year have been curating a programme at my local cinema, The Riverside, where I was able to invite friends from the film world along to discuss their careers live on stage, following a screening of one of their films. I was able to host six of these events this year, with several of them selling out.  My guests included Mike Leigh, Kieran Evans, Kevin Brownlow, Terence Davies, Mark Gatiss and Ben Wheatley. What was equally rewarding about these events is that I was able to involve my old High School and their film studies teacher along with some of the students. They regularly attended each evening and filmed them. The students are now able to use these Q&As as part of their film studies programme. I have been asked by the cinema to host another series of these events in 2017 and am now in the process of putting some names together.

The young Kevin Brownlow with the old Abel Gance, 1967
Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival continues to swell in numbers and rise in temperature. This year, with the addition of a new venue, meant there were even more things to see. Next year’s festival will include yet another new venue with the old underground cinema near the Piazza recently restored and refurbished. As always the festival is a wonder to explore and immerse yourself in, and this year was no exception; Tavernier’s personal remembrance JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA, forgotten gems from Dave Kehr’s curated programme UNIVERSAL PICTURES: THE LAEMMLE JR YEARS, TECHNICOLOR & CO with the joy of seeing MARNIE and SINGING IN THE RAIN,  a JACUES BECKER RETROSPECTIVE, other highlights for me included Carne’s LES PORTES DE LA NUIT, Garnett’s HER MAN, Resnais’ MURIEL and the new restoration by Warners and Criterion of Altman’s, McCABE AND MRS MILLER.

I left Bologna on the Sunday heading straight to the Karlovy Vary film festival, where I am now their international film consultant – sounds posh! 

Cinematic highlights for me at the KV festival this year included TONI ERDMANN, PATERSON, HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MAKI, IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD, LITTLE MEN, MELLOW MUD and the superb rotoscope doc, TOWER.

The London Film Festival in October was my next port of call for some bulk viewing and whilst this year was better than last, I still didn’t see that many films as I have in previous years. Notable highlights included MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, THE LEVELLING, ELLE and LA LA LAND.

Finally, there have been a few other films and TV series that have impressed me throughout the year such as I DANIEL BLAKE, THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER, HYPERNORMALISATION, THE SILENCES (Margot Nash), THE PEOPLE V OJ SIMPSON, STRANGER THINGS, LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, WIENER, JULIETA and NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.

I still maintain that whilst some people continue to talk about the “death of cinema” and “they don’t make films like they used to” etc. etc. - this is a fallacy. Good films are still being made, it’s just getting harder to see them. 

Alexander Payne
As for what 2017 may hold for me personally, well I am pleased to say that I have curated a strand with director, Alexander Payne, for Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato. I’m very much looking forward to returning to Karlovy Vary and perhaps more significantly, I have been appointed Artistic Director of a new film festival launching in the UK next year with a strong focus on repertory cinema. I shall also be changing my day-to-day job but am not permitted to talk about that just yet. I very much look forward to continuing my association with The Criterion Collection and researching potential “extras” for their new releases along with anything else that may come my way! 

Editor's Note: UK-based Neil McGlone is a collector, program consultant to a number of Europe's major film festivals and an advisor to the Criterion Collection. He is the Curator of the Peter von Bagh Archive, a unique collection of the audio-visual records of the formidable Finnish critic and programmer who died a short time ago.

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