Dermot Preston SJ’s introduction to Richard Attenborough, whose cinematic career he then followed with interest and admiration, was unforgettable. The Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain pays tribute to the late Lord Attenborough’s creativity and ‘idealistic pragmatism’ in this brief overview of his work in front of and behind the camera. ‘True artists have a vocation to create and communicate, and Attenborough was no different.’
There will be a preview screening of Open Bethlehem - followed by an interview with Palestinian director Leila Sansour by broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, a Q&A and reception - on Wednesday 24 September 2014 at 7pm at the Royal Geographical Society, London. This feature-length documentary captures Bethlehem as it has never been seen before. Set against the backdrop of an increasingly desperate situation in Israel-Palestine, the film shows the ‘little town’ through the eyes of one of its oldest Christian families.
The first Hollywood feature film ever to be financed by the Roman Catholic Church was released twenty-five years ago on August 25, 1989. 'Romero' starred the Puerto Rican Raul Julia ('Kiss of the Spiderwoman' and the 'The Addams Family' franchise) as Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar A Romero, and was directed by the Australian John Duigan. The writer was John Sacret Heart (TV’s 'The West Wing'), and the producer was Paulist Pictures’ Fr Ellwood E Kiesel. “Its religious origins notwithstanding,” the New York Times wrote,
Catholic director Martin Scorsese is due to begin making a film next month on the epic story of the Jesuit missionaries who went to Japan in the 17th century. In a story based on Based on Japanese author Shusako Endo's classic novel Silence, Liam Neeson will play the role of Jesuit Father Sebastião Rodrigues. Andrew Garfield will play the younger Father Rodriguez, who travels to Japan in search of his spiritual mentor, following reports that he has apostasized. In 1549, when St Francis Xavier and two companions first set foot in Japan,
Secret Sharer, a film inspired by a Joseph Conrad short story, premiers in London next week. The Academy Award winning director, Peter Fudakowski, took part in a wide-ranging Q&A with Professor Robert Hampson, Conrad scholar and critic from the Joseph Conrad Society and others, at the Polish Cultural Institute in West London on 9 May after a preview screening of the film... In 1994, Fudakowski spent a year in Krakow with his family and said he decided to make it 'a Conrad year' studying the author's life and work.
The charity premiere of Secret Sharer, a film by the Academy Award winning Catholic director, Peter Fudakowski, takes place at the Curzon Cinema Mayfair next Monday, 23 June 2014 at 5.45pm. Inspired by the Joseph Conrad short story, the Secret Sharer is a contemporary fable told with epic beauty and humour. The evening will include a Q&A session with both the director Peter Fudakowski and the lead actor Jack Laskey. Peter won a Academy Award for his film Tsotsi in 2004. Funds from this premier will go to the Coram children's charity
A film shot on a tourist camera has won a top award at the UK Christian Film Festival Amazing Grace, which documents a wave of attacks against Christians by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, was produced by Release International, which serves persecuted Christians worldwide. It won Best Informational Video at the Christian Film Festival. The award was presented by Hollywood star Stephen Baldwin at the Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Park, Esher. '"A very powerful story, powerfully told", was the verdict of Festival director Ray Horowitz.
Opening with a shocking scene in the confessional plus a memorable quote from St Augustine, “Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume, one of the thieves was damned,” Calvary (written and directed by John Michael McDonagh) is a powerful tale of redemption and forgiveness. Through the Christ-like character of the parish priest in a small rural Irish community (a stunning performance from Brendan Gleeson) we experience his Via Dolorosa as he journeys towards certain death,
Noah has been produced as a big budget entertainment movie for world release. It is not a documentary, and it is not a visual aid to study of the book of Genesis. It is the brain-child of writer-director, Darren Aronofsky. Commentators note that his dramas are preoccupied with a range of obsessives, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Black Swan. Noah joins their obsessive company. The film is divided into two parts: the establishment of the character of Noah and his family, his sense of mission, the building of the Ark.
Her, the new film by Spike Jonze, is a beautiful meditation on love, friendship, artificial intelligence, regret, virtual reality, surrogacy, time, gaming, grief, embodiment, self-creation, community, and the only half-acknowledged weirdness of falling in love with your computer’s operating system, Fr Stephen Wang writes in his blog The Jericho Tree. It’s a prose-poem, akin to Wim Wender’s classic film Wings of Desire,
January is Anti-Slavery month in the USA, and marks the release of a graphic new film: '12 Years a Slave' directed by Steve McQueen. Already nominated for nine Oscars, it is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery. One of the few slaves to escape bondage in the United States, he published his memoirs in 1853 and went on became a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement. The beginning of this screen account portrays Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor,
This weekend sees the much-anticipated launch of new epic TV mini-series - The Bible - running every Saturday night on Channel 5 right up to Christmas. The show has already been nominated for an Emmy award, and has a very distinguished cast including Nonso Anozie, originally from north London, who began his career playing King Lear with the RSC at the Old Vic. At six foot six - he plays Samson in this series. It can be watched on its own - but it also comes with a number of state of the art resources, including a booklet using
Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, lives up to all the expectations one had of it, and the five star reviews already heaped upon it. People coming out of the cinema were saying "that was a tear-jerker"; it is that AND some. It is tale of sex, sin and forgiveness, in the most unlikely combination. I went having been told of the unpleasant scene at the end with the harsh and unforgiving nun, Sister Hildegarde. I expected it to be full of the kind of horrific condemnation of nuns, so alien to any knowledge or experience I ever had and still have of religious sisters.
Reading reviews of this film, I knew I had to see it, although some critics made it sound like a rarified intellectual experience.
Intelligent is not the same as intellectual, thank God. Not that God appears overtly, as Christ does in Oscar Wilde’s original fable, and there is so much foul language that any taking of his name in vain passed me by. These expletives could have been deleted, but that would have lost the taste of the language of the society we are plunged into.
Based on the real stories of teenagers seeking asylum in the UK, Leave to Remain is a provocative coming-of-age drama where all hope rests on the story you tell. Written and directed by BAFTA-winning documentary-maker, Bruce Goodison, the production was the culmination of three years’ research into the situation of unaccompanied young people who have left conflict zones to seek refuge in the UK. Kate Monkhouse writes on Thinking Faith. The film exposes the flaws in the asylum system in Britain and brings to light
Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, and director Alvaro Longoria, have been in London this week to promote a documentary film: 'Sons of the Clouds - The Last Colony'. Using rare historic footage, and contemporary interviews, the film tells the story of the Western Sahara, once a Spanish colony on the Atlantic coast of north Africa, which was invaded by neighbouring Morocco in 1975. As the Spanish authorities left, the Moroccan armed forces came in with tanks
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s London Film Festival has to be Haifaa al Mansour’s wonderful debut film, Wadjda. It is the first-ever feature film to be made in Saudi Arabia, where cinema and film are banned. It is directed by a highly talented and gifted woman who sets out to confront our perceptions of her homeland whilst telling a story with universal themes of hope and perseverance. It is a real gem and when it goes on general release, be sure to see it. It will lift your spirits and put a spring into your understanding of Arab culture and identity
For this review, I had been struggling to find what one might call ‘a way in’, particularly for the readers of Thinking Faith. I could have drawn on Liberace’s Catholicism, or his near-death vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but these only really get a passing reference in the film, so I will begin instead with what might seem a bizarre comparison between this film and the 1996 version of Emma (the one with Gwyneth Paltrow in the title rôle). Only really serious cineastes read the credits, so here’s your chance to up your game:
A glimpse of a forgotton era. This historic film footage, made shortly after the invention of celluloid by the earliest filmmakers in history - the Lumiere brothers - in 1895, captures a remarkable snapshot of life in Jerusalem in 1896. The rare footage begins with scenes at Jerusalem Railway Station, then moves around the busy streets of the ancient city, showing Jews, Muslims and Christians living together, in apparant harmony, in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
It would be both lamentable and crass to describe F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby as being ‘unputdownable’, as if it had something in common with all those other ‘unputdownable’ books that publishers boast carelessly about. So I began wincing when I heard this cinematic interpretation of the book being referred to just as carelessly, as a ‘blockbuster’ to kickstart the summer - writes Niall Leahy SJ on Thinking Faith. The thought of director Baz Luhrmann performing plastic surgery on Fitzgerald’s near-perfect body of text,
The internationally acclaimed Sheffield Doc Festival has nominated Big River Rising, an interactive documentary produced by Christian Aid, for a Green Award, its category to honour documentaries addressing major environmental challenges. The web-documentary, which will screen at the festival from 12- 16 June 2013, was shot in the Philippines during the dramatic August 2012 monsoon deluge, and demonstrates the importance of science in helping slum dwellers in Manila cope with flooding that claims innocent lives every year.
Billed as a ‘coming of age’ film with a fairly uninspiring title, Mud certainly was not top of the list of flicks I wanted to see this month, writes Afra Morris in Thinking Faith. It is, however, a pleasant surprise that will have you dreaming of sun-dappled days and the adventures of your youth. Set in Arkansas, it tells the Huckleberry Finn-esque tale of two 14-year-old boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), as they discover and assist the enigmatic ‘Mud’ (Matthew McConaughey), a fugitive trying to rebuild a boat to float away with
A sobre but very impressive film. While it runs for over two and a half hours, Lincoln limits itself to the month of January, 1865 (with a very brief prologue indicating the intensity of the war in close-up one-on-one combat in muddy fields and an epilogue with the surrender of General Robert E Lee and the assassination of President Lincoln). The focus is human rights and politics. With the act for the abolition for slavery passed by the Senate, the campaign for the vote in the House of Representatives was hard and, at times, bitterly fought.
This film has touched a nerve with audiences and critics alike, winning Oscar eight nominations this years, and the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence. Writer-director David O Russell has a son who is bipolar and was interested in the novel by Matthew Quick on which he based this film. It is very American. The characters are very extroverted in whatever situations they find themselves in. Whether the character is experiencing depression or just living ordinarily, uproar is not all that far away.
I'm not saying it was the best film of the year, but Ben Affleck's Argo was way, way better than Lincoln, Life of Pi, and even Zero Dark Thirty - see my earlier post here. I haven't seen Amour, so I can't say whether Affleck deserved to triumph over Haneke; but he is certainly a worthy winner, Fr Stephen Wang writes in his blog Bridges and Tangents today. And yes, Jennifer Lawrence was much more interesting in Silver Linings Playbook than Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty, even though I would still have given Chastain the Oscar for