Naoto Yamakawa’s cult classic The New Morning of Billy the Kid “conjures together a motley crew of Eastern and Western archetypes”. For our online screening, we made a handy primer…
To call Naoto Yamakawa’s The New Morning of Billy The Kid an unconventional Western would be to severely downplay the stramash of archetypes Yamakawa knowingly deploys in his dreamlike film. From the title, combining references to Bob Dylan’s New Morning (1970) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973) which Dylan scored and starred in, the film pulls together multiple threads of cultural references from all directions. We’ve assembed this (incomplete!) primer to aid your viewing of our online programme, which runs 3rd-5th December 2021. Images courtesy of Naoto Yamakawa.
Billy the Kid aka Henry McCarty, William H Bonney(1859-1881) | An orphan at 15, dead at 21, Billy the Kid found fame as a murderous outlaw and gunfighter of the American Old West. A pop culture figure for over 100 years, he’s appeared in numerous books, comics, films, stage shows, songs and video games. Played by Hiroshi Mikami.
Harry Callahan (Created 1971) | Debuting in Don Siegel’s neo-noir Dirty Harry, Inspector Harold Francis Callahan is a fictional character and protagonist of a five-film series concluding with 1988’s The Dead Pool. Played by Yoshio Harada.
Marx-Engels (Karl Marx, 1818-1883; Friedrich Engels, 1820-1895) | German philosophers and co-authors of The Communist Manifesto. Marx’ tomb bears the inscription, “Workers of all lands unite”. The latter’s motto was reportedly, “Take it easy.” Played by Rokkô Toura.
Monument Valley | Monument Valley, located on the Navajo Nation within Arizona and Utah, has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s, most famously the ten films John Ford made with John Wayne, including Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Searchers (1956).
Genichiro Takahashi (1951-) | Novelist and co-writer of The New Morning of Billy the Kid. The film draws upon his written works Sayonara, Gangsters (1982), Over the Rainbow (1984) and John Lennon vs The Martians (1985), among others. His oeuvre draws inspiration equally from low- and high-brow culture. Played by Genichiro Takahashi.
Harimau aka Tani Yutaka (1911-1942) | Yutaka was a bandit known as Harimau (“Tiger” in Malay), attacking Chinese gangs and British officers and giving away what he looted to the poor, making him a local hero in Malaya, now Malaysia. He was also a secret agent for the Imperial Japanese Army, sabotaging the British war effort in the run up to World War II. Played by Junichi Hirata.
Jesus Christ (c 4 BC-30/33) | Son of God. Played by Akifumi Yamaguchi.
Jishu Eiga | Japanese phrase to describe DIY or self-made films, usually with no budget, funded and produced outside of the commercial industry. Prominent directors Sôgo Ishii, Naomi Kawase, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto cut their teeth with jishu eiga films.
Sasaki Kojirō (1575-1612) | Prominent Japanese swordsman and long-time rival of Miyamoto Musashi, who defeated him in a legendary duel. Played by Makoto Ayukawa.
Mitsuharu Kaneko (1895-1975) | Japanese poet known as an anti-establishment figure, who during the Second World War deliberately made his son ill so he would not be drafted.
Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) | Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer and rōnin. Miyamoto became renowned through stories of his unique double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 61 duels. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) drew inspiration from Miyamoto for Seiji Miyaguchi’s character Kyūzō. Played by Takashi Naito.
New Morning (1970) | The 11th studio album by Bob Dylan, of which the original Rolling Stone reviewer said, “I’ve never heard Dylan sounding so outrageously happy before.”
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) | Revisionist Western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring (in a supporting role as “Alias”) and scored by Bob Dylan. Billy the Kid was played by Kris Kristofferson, who said of his director, “One of Sam Peckinpah’s regular stunt men put it very well. He said, ‘Sam likes to be surrounded by chaos.'”
Tony Rayns (1948-) | A writer, curator, programer and tireless champion of film, one of Mr Rayns’ key specialisations is Asian cinema. Rayns was an early champion of Yamakawa’s films and one of the only writers to celebrate his work from the outset. Rayns was also involved in the creation of the film’s original English subtitles (since lost), in collaboration with Director Yamakawa, and now has very graciously worked on our 2021 subtitles.
Sgt Sanders (Created 1962) | Sgt “Chip” Saunders, played by Vic Morrow, was the co-lead character in Combat!, a US TV show (1962-1967). The show depicted the lives of a US platoon fighting its way across Europe during World War II. Played by Zenpaku Kato.
Popeye & Olive Oyl (Created 1929; 1919) | Characters of Thimble Theatre, later Popeye, comic strips. Olive Oyl was a main character for 10 years before Popeye’s 1929 appearance, sequentially becoming his girlfriend. Both are able to gain superhuman strength from eating spinach. Played by Katsuhiko Hibino and Kyoko Endoh.
Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982) | Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the governing Communist Party and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. His 18-year term as general secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin’s in duration. Played by Katsumi Asaba.
104 (1953-2015) | Japanese telephone directory enquiries number. Played by Akio Ishii.
177 | Japanese telephone weather service, dial to hear the weather forecast for the upcoming three days. Played by Hozumi Goda.
Charlotte Rampling (1963-) | English actress and model, known for her work in European arthouse films in English, French, and Italian. Played by Kimie Shingyoji.
Bruce Springsteen (1949-) | American singer, songwriter, and musician with over twenty studio albums. Played by Masayuki Shionoya.
Tatum O’Neal (1963-) | American actress who is the youngest person to ever win a competitive Academy Award, winning at age 10 for her performance as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973) opposite her father, Ryan O’Neal. Played by Aura Lani.
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5(Published 1969) | A science fiction infused anti-war novel, articulating Vonnegut’s experiences as an American serviceman in World War II through protagonist Billy Pilgrim. Namesake of Master’s bar.
Naoto Yamakawa (1957-) | Film director and professor at the Department of Imaging Art, Tokyo Polytechnic University. Yamakawa began to create his own films after becoming a member of the Cinema Research Society while studying at Waseda University.
Zelda (Active 1979–1996)| One of Japan’s first all-girl bands, playing new wave, punk, pop, post-punk, and later, reggae. Played by band members Sachiho Kojima , Sayoko Takahashi, Tomie Ishihara and Ako Ozawa.
The New Morning of Billy the Kid is presented by Matchbox Cine as part of BFI’s Japan 2021: Over 100 years of Japanese Cinema, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. bfijapan.co.uk
We’re teaming up with Glasgow Short Film Festival again to screen a trilogy of incredible shorts from Crime Wave director John Paizs – in one feature length programme, as originally intended
40 years ago, in January 1981, cult Canadian auteur John Paizs debuted his seminal short, Springtime in Greenland. His seventh, it was the opening salvo of an intended trilogy paving the way for Paizs’ crowning achievement, his 1985 feature debut Crime Wave. The loosely connected sequence, completed with Oak, Ivy & Dead Elms (1982) and The International Style (1984) stars writer/director Paizs himself as Nick, the mute protagonist, always deadpan if not strictly impassive, the inscrutable centre of a highly stylised world, inspired equally by Disney and Devo.
Conceived as three pieces of a whole, though rarely screened together, The Three Worlds of Nick developed the style formally established by Paizs with 1980’s The Obsession of Billy Botski. In that short, Paizs placed his titular character amongst the “controlled artificiality” of classical Hollywood, mixing the highly constructed sound design of vintage radio dramas with the knowing, pop punch of New Wave music. Indeed, Paizs wanted his films to be “shorter, snappier, brighter and edgier,” envisaging them as a cinematic counterpart to the music of Devo, The B-52s and Elvis Costello. In The Three Worlds of Nick, Paizs worked towards that goal with the wit and poise later celebrated in the work of Roy Andersson and something of the compromised sincerity of Blue Velvet-era Lynch.
Paizs’ “Silent Man” figure, who would find his apotheosis in Crime Wave’s Steven Penny, was key to that development. While Botski had been merely laconic, Nick is entirely silent, a steadfast counterpoint to his frequently grandiloquent friends and antagonists. The self-casting was expedient, since Paizs’ films were made on a shoestring, with a non-professional cast and crew (the modest budgets primarily went to film stock and processing). It’s also emblematic of the inventiveness permeating the three shorts, which make a distinct virtue of Paizs’ lack of faith in his own oratorical prowess, while allowing him frequent opportunities to flirt, poker-faced, with his camera’s objectifying gaze.
The Three Worlds of Nick followed after my short film The Obsession of Billy Botski. After Botski, I very much wanted to have a go at a feature but was daunted by the scale of it, a challenge I overcame by conceiving of one in three more easily fundable and doable parts. In order to give the three parts unity, I created the silent man Nick character (to be played by me), who would appear in each. The three storylines for the three parts — or worlds — came out very different from one another, going from semi-autobiography in Springtime in Greenland to escapist fantasy in The International Style, with a stop in between at college in Oak, Ivy and other Dead Elms for Nick to possibly learn a thing or three from a charismatic old WASP establishment student on campus and his right wing politics. All in all, The Three Worlds of Nick offered at the time of its completion, in 1983, and still offers today I believe, a completely unique movie watching experience. One that I guarantee still holds something special for every dedicated cineaste.
The Three Worlds of Nick streams live at 20.30 on Saturday 27 March, then is available to view on demand until the GSFF hub closes at midnight on Sunday 28 March.All three films feature brand-new, director-approved descriptive subtitles, produced by Matchbox Cinesub. More information can be found here.
Broadcaster Pauline McLean interviewed Matchbox about our National Lottery Award win, accessible film screenings and cinema under COVID
Towards the end of 2020, we were invited to speak to broadcaster (and Cage-a-rama attendee) Pauline McLean about our recent National Lottery Award, in the Culture & Arts category, for our work producing descriptive subtitles (AKA captions, SDH, HoH) for films during the COVID lockdown, ongoing work which is supported with National Lottery Funds via Film Hub Scotland.
You can listen and download the interview from BBC here. BBC doesn’t currently provide transcripts of its radio shows, so we’ve made one ourselves. Read it below, download a PDF here, or listen along with our subtitled clip.
Presenter: You’re listening to the Good Morning Scotland Weekend Edition podcast. Now, lots of people have found tasks to be done during lockdown, but spare a thought for film enthusiasts Sean Welsh and Megan Mitchell, who spent their lockdown subtitling hundreds of films for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences. Well, Sean and Megan normally run Matchbox Cineworld, providing cult films for festivals. Cage-a-rama, their celebration of Nicolas Cage, should have taken place this month but they’re confident it will return and perhaps bring the eccentric actor himself to Glasgow. Well, our Arts Correspondent Pauline McLean spoke to them at the tail end of 2020.
Megan Mitchell: Myself and my colleague Sean Welsh are Matchbox Cineclub. We’re currently based in Bristol, having just recently moved but we originally were active predominantly in Glasgow and Scotland. And we’re independent film exhibitors. And all that means is that we screen films, we run film festivals, we work with cinemas to put on film events. Our ethos, in terms of programming and what films we like to screen, we call them the outcasts, orphans and outliers of cinema,
Megan Mitchell: We like to screen films – cult films for cold audiences – but also we place a keen emphasis on accessibility. So, we use a pay-what-you-can-afford sliding scale ticket model, from zero to £8, and we also present all the films with captions, for and Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences.
Pauline McLean: So, this is where the Lottery Award comes in, because a lot of people during lockdown, I guess, kicked back and thought, “Well, there’s not much for me to do.” The two of you actually decided that there was even more to do, in terms of subtitling films and you did, how many? About 250 in that time?
Sean Welsh: The number’s a little elastic. It’s actually still in a sense, it’s still going. It was 150 at the kind of midpoint. And it’s 300 now, I think. So, it’s, day-by-day it increases, because it’s still ongoing, of course. Over the summer, it was certainly about 200.
Pauline McLean: And what does that involve for you? What does the work actually involve?
Sean Welsh: It’s really varied, in fact. I mean, sometimes it’s a case of we have a subtitle file that we just have to adapt, which is to say that it’s an English language file and we need to add SDH or captioned elements, which is sound labels and sound effects and things like that. So, sometimes, it’s relatively straightforward. And other times we have to do the whole thing from scratch, which is that we have to transcribe the English dialogue as well as add these elements for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences. And the quality of the films, or rather, the content of the films, is really varied as well and it depends on who we’ve been doing it for. We’ve done a lot of work with the Glasgow Short Film Festival, who were actually one of the first to embrace this, the idea of making their programme as accessible as possible. We worked with them a little bit last year and they’ve been building up their provision year on year, until this year, when, of course, initially, they were supposed to happen earlier in the year, but they had to postpone and then eventually delivered their whole programme online. And their whole programme this year was accessible in terms of captions, which is a huge undertaking for us. And it’s a real big investment and time for them as well. So it was really nice to see that.
Pauline McLean: And this kind of lockdown time gave you that chance to be able to sit down and do this, didn’t it? I mean it, it sounds like quite a dream job, but, in other ways, it also sounds quite laborious. You’re not just sitting watching films, you’re having to basically take them apart and put them back together again, with words anyway.
Sean Welsh: Ah, sure, I mean, if you want to stop enjoying something, you make it work. But, at the same time, we’re really grateful to be able to work like this. I mean, it’s great to have a sense of purpose about it, it’s great to work with films, but, of course, if you are working with films, day-in, day-out, it can become a little onerous. And of course, when you’re working on a film, it’s potentially up to six times as long as the film itself, you’re spending, even more than that, in fact, to produce the subtitles. So, if you imagine a film is an hour, an hour and a half long, you’re talking around a day, a day, maybe a working day, at the very least, usually about two days to do the subtitles, which is a long time to spend with any film.
Pauline McLean: So, Megan, are there particular films that you think, “Never again, I just don’t want to see that one again.”
Megan Mitchell: I think we’re quite lucky, because we’ve been able to work with a variety of festivals and exhibitors, that, every week, there’s something new and something interesting. And I think that, personally, we’ve been exposed to films that are just so varied and so interesting, in terms of their different content and approach and style that, actually, even though it can be quite arduous, I guess, to be doing it day-in, day-out, that there’s still always something fresh and exciting and you’re always reminded how important film as an art form and as a medium is,
Pauline McLean: Tell us a little bit about the original organisation that you set up Matchbox Cineclub. You originally, I guess, had five festivals that you’ve added to that, and you’re looking particularly at cult film. I think the only one that I have been to in the list, and I thought it was fabulous, was Cage-a-rama which is devoted to the films of Nicolas Cage. How did that come about?
Sean Welsh: The potted history of Matchbox is that it was founded by a chap called Tommy McCormick, who is very creative and very active in producing these kinds of organisations and events. And he started Matchbox as a way to screen short films, because, at that time, there wasn’t that many options for seeing short films on the big screen. And I got involved pretty quickly afterwards, because I wanted to get experience as a film programmer and basically took over almost entirely, but Tommy was on to bigger and better things. And then we screened pop-up screenings of cult films, essentially. And then Megan came onboard, and then our shared love of Nicolas Cage begat Cage-a-rama.
Nicolas Cage: Going to detain a blighter for enjoying his whisky?
Cage: Bangers and mash! Bubbles and squeak! Smoked eel pie!
Man: That’s it! Dismount the banister!
Sean Welsh: We decided that it was probably a good idea to spend an inordinate amount of time celebrating Nicolas Cage. And so we’ve done that.
Pauline McLean: Well, I was going to say, you’re not alone. For some reason, there’s a real love for Nicolas Cage in Glasgow.
Megan Mitchell: I think that, one, he’s just the best actor that’s ever lived. I’m actually the world’s leading academic on Valley Girl, which was Nicolas Cage’s first feature film, as “Nicolas Cage”.
VO: Valley Girl.
Cage: She’s out there somewhere.
VO: This is the story of a boy from Hollywood who never dreamed the girl he’d want most was down here.
Megan Mitchell: I think that me and Sean and the audience of Cage-a-rama have this shared sincere interest in Cage as an actor, as a an entity larger than life. And I think that that’s how we came to this idea of Matchbox being cult films for cult audiences, because, of course, programming Matchbox normally, outwith Cage-a-rama and our KeanuCons and things, which are maybe more known films, we’re screening stuff that you can’t see anywhere else – lost films, unknown films, cult in the sense that you really need to dig to find them. So, that unifying thread across our programming is really that cult, in, I guess, a more flexible and fluid sense, but always has that sincerity and joy that you find within these films.
Pauline McLean: But I guess also not taking itself too seriously. I think one of the films that I saw, I think last year, at the second festival was almost like a sort of pantomime audience, you know, people were kind of cheering the, you know, the particular lines that appealed to them, or…
Megan Mitchell: I was just gonna mention an event that we did that, I think, is a really nice example of audience participation in that heightened event. We hosted a funeral for the six-second video platform Vine.
[New Orleans second line funeral music]
Megan Mitchell: Some people might know that have, I guess, cult status, in terms of some of its videos and creators. And we hosted a very elaborate funeral with a mourning band and Puke, who’s a drag question performing this amazing performance with which the audience joined in, completely unprompted, with their phone lights, and had been repeating all of the Vines back to the screen itself.
Megan Mitchell: And I think that we create or we try to create an environment within Matchbox events where all the audience and I think that this is where captions and accessible ticket pricing come in, feel comfortable and feel that they can engage to a level that they’re comfortable with and feel supported to do that in an environment that maybe ordinary cinemas or ordinary film screenings don’t create or haven’t been able to quite grasp yet. And I think that that’s core to the things that we want to continue to do is achieve that environment of… welcomeness, I guess, and feeling that you can be a part of all of this.
Pauline McLean: And, Sean, is the ambition, eventually, to have either Nicolas Cage or Keanu Reeves come to their own festivals?
Sean Welsh: Well, we’re always, since year one of Cage-a-rama, we’ve been in contact with Cage’s agent and we’ve always been heartened by the fact that, in year four of a similar festival in the States, he took part, he came down, he had programmed the films, he came along, he officiated an engagement, I think, and he read some Edgar Allan Poe poems, before sitting and watching his own films with the audience. So, we’ve always been encouraged by the fact that that happened. So far, we haven’t quite been able to tie the knot. It’s always exciting, because he tends to spend his festive period in the UK, he has a house in Bath. And so he is usually around when we, when our festival happens, or, because we do it around about his birthday, which is in early January. And so we always think there’s a possibility is gonna pop in. But we’re kind of like a dog that chases a car. I’m not sure what we’d do, if we got him.
But one day, one day, and the invitation is always open, and we’re always having that kind of communication. Keanu’s a different thing, I think, because I think he’s quite humble, and a wee bit shy, and I think he’d probably be… I’m not sure he’d necessarily be comfortable in that kind of scenario. But we’ll see we’ve, we’ve got a lot of room in our hearts for Keanu, I’m sure everyone else does as well.
Sean Welsh: We thought we’d extend the invitation vice versa. I mean, they’re always welcome to come to any of our events, as is anyone – that’s the idea, open, open to everyone.
Megan Mitchell: Well, we delivered an online festival Tales From Winnipeg, which was actually more of a showcase, I guess, of purest Matchbox programming, so we had a Matchbox favourite John Paizs’ Crime Wave. We had Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, scored by the wonderful Ela Orleans, and the Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group documentary. And that was really interesting, because that was our first foray, I guess, into online programming. And we were even on the local Winnipeggian news chatting about it and that was quite fun.
But I think, for us, we have been really lucky this year in terms of keeping busy, I guess, with captioning and the advocacy work that we’ve been doing around that. And of course, the award, for the captioning work that we’ve been doing, has been really nice and there’s been something really comforting, I guess, for us, being able to be busy during such a uncertain time. But I think moving forward, audiences are always going to want to come together and join in on something really special and I think cinemas and our festivals particularly offer something above and beyond watching films on Netflix or on streaming sites. So, 2021, we’ll see how comfortable we are delivering things to audiences. I also think, as well, that we’re really lucky in being independent film exhibitors, in that we can take the choices that feel right for us and our audiences and not have to take any, I guess, risks based on any economic factors, if we were cinema, for example. So I think, for us, we’re just biding our time, I guess. I don’t think you ever stop programming, there’s always things squirrelled away, you know – a Tik Tok festival might be next.
Sean Welsh: We have, it’s fair to say, lots and lots of ideas. And just like everyone else, it’s a real, a real shame that we’ve had to kind of wipe the board clean this year. But we’ve always said we’d prefer to be best rather than first, so even, there’s all these challenges, like Megan says, in terms of safety and looking after your audiences, because that’s the most important thing to us, and so…and we also have to deal with that thing that a lot of people in groups that are in the same position as us are in because it’s difficult for us to screen mainstream films online, you know, so we couldn’t necessarily present Cage-a-rama online. Obviously, I think we’d prefer to be able to see our audience and experience the films with them in real life. But even a version of it would be tricky for us to deliver online because…just because of the way the industry works. So, there are things we can do and there are things we may do and, like I say, we’re bursting with ideas. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
Pauline McLean: I think, in one of your discussion forums, you were recommending in a sense that for some festivals, the right thing is to do nothing, to kind of step back and not to attempt to push everything online. You were just explaining there why it’s not always possible to put things online. It also doesn’t always have the same feel, there is that balance to be achieved, isn’t there?
Megan Mitchell: Yeah. And I think that, particularly in the early point of lockdown, and going through the pandemic, quite a lot of cinemas and festivals and independent exhibitors, very rightly so, were concerned about their audiences and wanting to stay very actively engaged with them. And I think that when, we, I guess, it was during Scalarama, said that perhaps doing nothing is a better use of time, I think that none of these people in the sector are ever going to be doing nothing, but advocating for taking the time to think about how we can better the sector and improve our own events when we do get back to doing the big in-real-life things that we love. And again, we come back to captioning. Captioning’s a big part of that. And I think we’ve seen a lot of festivals and independent exhibitors who, one, have had maybe more time to think about access in a slightly different way, really engaging with captioning as a process and a real way in for audiences who maybe wouldn’t be able to engage with their events otherwise, online or not. But also cinema might be in a crisis at the moment but it’s also an opportunity and we’re seeing a lot of really exciting, urgent and important issues being discussed, not just access, but across the board in the sector. And I think that actually, that’s a really heartening thing. Even if it’s quite a scary time for cinemas themselves.
Pauline McLean: I was going to say, one of the interesting things has been, aside from Tenet, there hasn’t really been anything blockbuster-wise, this year. So, it’s given any indie films that are out there a little bit more scope than they normally would have. And I presume it also allows for those audiences, and those kind of films to have a bit more of the attention.
Sean Welsh: I think it’s fair to say that, in one sense, like, doing stuff online is great and to be able to embrace it is great. And there’s lots of different elements of online that the in-real-life events can’t offer and one of them is accessibility. But on the other hand, we don’t have the pressures that a venue has, in terms of overheads and staff and continuity of their audience. And one thing that we’re very aware of is that it would be great if more of us this kind of niche content and lesser-exposed films had a chance. But, truthfully, there’s such shifting sands for cinemas, because they have to try to get bums on seats, but they’re also dealing with an ever-changing landscape. And it’s not just about whether or not films will or will not be released, you’ve seen Wonder Woman 1984 is now going to get released day and date streaming and in theatres. That kind of thing disrupts planning for cinemas because, in a normal run of things, they have things booked several months in advance. And they also know that they’re going to be open. So, if you don’t know you’re going to be open from week to week, and you don’t know what studio releases are going to be available to you, it’s incredibly difficult to plan. And so that’s… We’re aware that, in the sector, there’s, like, a real challenge and a real need for venues and cinemas to be supported through this. It would seem that there’s an opportunity to programme these lesser known films. But unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that.
Pauline McLean: Going back to the subject of access to films and the subtitling work that you’ve done, the reminder in the midst of all of this is that not everyone has broadband, not everyone has internet access. Is there a danger that we may have taken a step back in making film accessible because it’s going to be small, when cinemas do reopen, they’re going to be much, much smaller capacity. So, you know, how do you then cater for the people who felt they’d been left out?
Megan Mitchell: I think that this is a big question for cinemas in terms of access overall, because I don’t think it’s about stepping backwards with access online or the progression of online versus in-venue. I think that these are all deeply interconnected and very hard to untangle issues of barriers to access for audiences. So, digital poverty is playing a big part now, in terms of audiences who maybe would regularly attend cinemas but don’t have the digital technology or the internet to do so. But we’re also seeing a rising awareness I guess, in cinemas, of these issues, so, digital poverty, even when cinemas are able to or do open their doors, we have high-risk audience members, we have audience members who just can’t step over that threshold any more, even from their own home and so I think it’s just about all of these different – as it always has been in cinema – different issues of barriers to access interplaying. But, again, I think cinemas are starting to untangle all of that. And, even though there may be some deeply rooted problems, in terms of access – I’m thinking particularly around the cost of a cinema ticket, and the actual ability to enter these independent cinemas and feel that they’re a space for yourself – that we’re slowly starting to address different issues of access in a way that sets out a really strong model for addressing all of the other issues. And again, captioning being a brilliant example of exhibitors really starting to consciously think about how they can unpick these barriers and be proactive, because, actually, underpinning all of the issues within independent exhibition and independence cinemas is actions that are necessary to bring about change. And I think that we’re seeing a really exciting energy around independence cinemas that want that change and, hopefully, the pandemic has sped up some of the really useful ways of doing that. So, taking things online, thinking differently about access online and hopefully bringing that back into the cinemas.
Pauline McLean: So, rather than taking a step backwards, it could actually be an important reset moment?
Megan Mitchell: Definitely, I think the pandemic’s allowed cinemas to accelerate some of the changes that were already slowly in place, with going online, thinking about access differently online. But it’s also gave cinemas, I guess, a shock in terms of audiences and thinking about their audiences. So now, older audiences are maybe less likely to want to attend cinema screenings, but younger audiences might. And that’s a real question, I guess, for independent cinemas who have previously struggled with young audiences and maybe have rested on their laurels slightly with their access commitments and now is the time, I think, we’re really seeing an urgent need for change, but also the will for that to happen as well.
Sean Welsh: It’s important to note that we didn’t invent access, and we didn’t invent captioning for screenings, but what we were able to do is to show how it was possible to do it and to do it affordably. Because there was a will there, it’s just that we had to kind of… we helped to join up the dots. And we’ve kind of seen a real, real sense of a sea change, even over the course of this year. Because we can see that some of the people we’re working with year on year, the distributors and the film-makers are more likely to have caption files already, because they’re thinking about it. So we can see that there’s a change there that’s kind of coming in. And particularly across Scotland, obviously, we’ve done a lot of work with a lot of festivals, and even the ones that we haven’t had complete coverage, they’re starting maybe one strand, and then next year they’ll look at doing more. And we’re also showing them how to do it internally, to an extent, if they can manage that, so that it’s a bit more sustainable, you know, because it’s not just screenings, of course, it’s, like, trailers and any content they put online – clips, or if they do Q&As, all of these things. And so it’s progress. And I think, on one hand, it’s important to see it as a continuity. And, on the other hand, it’s a really good idea to lose patience with this stuff and to say, “No, it has to happen now.” Because it should happen now, it should have already happened. And, so, the more you kind of kick it into the long grass, if you allow that to happen, that’s what will happen, it’ll be put off and it’ll be put off. And, so, this pandemic, and everything around it has really been horrendous. And so when there’s an opportunity for something positive to come from it, I think it’s really good that we can seize it. And I would add to that also that audiences as a whole, and even specific audiences for cinema are much more comfortable with subtitles. In fact, before the pandemic, when we had committed to having open captioning on all our screenings, which means that subtitles are always on, no matter what, we never had any complaints from audience members. And I think there’s a wee bit of people assume that audiences are going to kick off if they’re presented with a subtitled screening. And I think it happens less than, less than people might expect and I think it’s no longer a viable excuse to not do it. It’s great to see organisations taking it on to the point where they can explain to their audiences, why they’re doing it, and bring audiences with them. Because that’s really what it’s all about.
Pauline McLean: You mentioned that you both relocated to Bristol, but it sounds like you’re still very much able to do what you do and be involved in everything that’s happening in Scotland from there.
Megan Mitchell: Definitely. I think, thanks to Zoom, and the pandemic, we probably could have moved and no-one would have known we weren’t in Glasgow any more, but it’s been really exciting for us to just come to a different context and particularly Bristol, where it has so many wonderful independent exhibitors and the Watershed Cinema that we’re able to, I guess, re-route and continue our activism for captions in a new context and a context that’s also hungry for change and are really proactive in terms of accessibility. But we’re still keeping our hands in Scotland.
Sean Welsh: I think there’s another thing that goes hand in hand with the kind of accessibility that we’ve always, we’ve chased and we’ve tried to bake in, more and more increasingly. Collaboration and cooperation have always been really important to us. We don’t believe in gatekeeping for the industry and we believe in sharing resources, and sharing advice and expertise. And, so, I think that increasingly, there’s a there’s a strong network, and it’s a network based on that kind of collegial atmosphere. And I hope we’ve been able to contribute to that and we certainly have seen there’s other people who have really responded to the fact that we put a lot of import on that. So, I think that’s the kind of thing that is portable. And we would like to stretch across the UK…and beyond!
Pauline McLean: And also, I guess, if you’re in Bristol, you’re just that little bit closer to Nicolas Cage, if he happens to pop in to his house in Bath.
Sean Welsh: If we happen to pop down and wait outside his house?
Nicolas Cage: No, not the bees!
Pauline McLean: One last question for you, which is, you, know… And I ask this of so many people who work in the world of film or cinema, do you still get a joy out of going to the cinema? Can you still switch off and relax and go see a film just for the joy of it?
Megan Mitchell: Oh, absolutely. When we moved to Bristol and managed to get to the Watershed Cinema, which was the first time that I had been to the cinema since February, and the longest time that I hadn’t been inside a cinema for maybe 15 years, It just was joyful. It just felt like you were coming home. And I think that we still retain that passion for cinema in the purest sense, that we understand how transformative and how impactful films and cinema can be for people, because we still feel that. Yeah, I can only agree with that. It makes such a huge difference to have a venue that you can trust to make it safe and make you feel welcome and make you feel looked after. If nothing else, you know, people can get an idea of what a cinema really is. Because it’s not just putting films on. You could put films online and people can see the films – the same amount of people could see the films you screen, but from your website. And that’s not the cinematic experience. That’s not what a cinema is, and I think, if nothing else, again, the pandemic has pulled that into focus.
Presenter: Thanks for listening and don’t forget to tune in to the programme live, at 8:00 every Saturday and Sunday morning.
All of Matchbox Cineclub’s programmed is subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. Keep up to date with our events by signing up to our mailing list, here, or find our events on Facebook here. For more information on our subtitling service, read our dedicated page here.
After 10 years of hosting film events all around Glasgow, we’re moving to Bristol
After ten years (and a particularly busy most recent five), Matchbox Cineclub is leaving Glasgow and relocating to Bristol.
For at least the next three years, we’re going to be based in Bristol. We’ll be back every so often (we have at least one Glasgow event planned in 2021), but mostly we’ll be in Bristol, and we don’t yet know what that’ll mean for any IRL events.
This weekend (3rd-6th September, 2020), we should’ve been hosting Weird Weekend III at CCA Glasgow. 2020, cursed year, should’ve seen our cult film festival level up to a much bigger festival. Our plans and even programming for it have been underway since before last year’s festival. Those plans had to be scrapped, rethought, redeveloped, revised and the scrapped again. We accounted for postponement, downscaling, hybrid approaches and completely online versions, but it just wasn’t meant to be this year.
We will be doing more online programming, like our Tales From Winnipeg online-only season, and Weird Weekend will certainly return in some form. But we also want to take some time to rest (we’ve also subtitled 250+ films in the last two months) and regroup, for the first time in several years.
We want to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 10(!) years in Glasgow, particularly CCA Glasgow, The Old Hairdressers, Film Hub Scotland, all our fellow exhibitors, to everyone that’s come to one of our events and, most of all, to those of you who’ve come to several.
It’s very strange to be planning to leave like this. We would’ve loved to host a farewell screening or just had some drinks in a big room, but none of that’s possible. Maybe, with no rooms to set, A/V to prep, bands to soundcheck, bookings to find, tickets to take, guests to entertain, merch to sell, last-minute social media to do, etc, etc, we’d have finally properly prepared an address for the audience, rather than busking some last-minute jibber-jabber. But then probably not. Hands up if you’ve already seen this one.
We love Glasgow and we’ll miss you very much.
Sean + Megan x
This website is full of stuff, interviews, articles, etc, and will become even more active now. You can find our archive of posters and event photographs on Flickr and our trailers and video content on Vimeo and YouTube. Zines, posters and merch are on sale in our shop, matchboxcineclub.bigcartel.com.
If you’re joining us for Tales From Winnipeg, our first online screening season, we have a few helpful recommendations and information to help you fully enjoy your viewing expereince at home.
Matchbox Cineclub: Tales From Winnipeg is a limited online-only season in celebration of the Winnipeg Film Group, hosted on our new online platform, here. The programme, which features rare and exclusive work from John Paizs, Guy Maddin, Kevin Nikkel & Dave Barber, takes place over three days, 28th-30th August 2020. Festival passes are available here and single tickets are available via each film’s page, here. To help you get the best from the season, we’ve put together the following guide. If you can’t find what you need here, send us an email: email@example.com.
1. We recommend using Google Chrome. We have found Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge and Safari to be less reliable for streaming films.
To download Chrome on your computer or to get the latest update click here.
Or search “Google Chrome” in the App Store / Play Store if you are using a phone or tablet.
2. We encourage you to watch the film in full-screen mode by hovering your cursor over the video window and clicking the symbol that appears in the bottom-right corner (see below).
3. The stream is available in up to 1080p quality, which you can opt for by hovering your cursor over the video window and clicking the Resolution symbol, then selecting a resolution option (see below). Please note your internet speed may not accommodate seamless viewing at 1080p.
4. You can switch on SDH/captions/subtitles for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing audieneces, or French language subtitles, by hovering your cursor over the video window and clicking the “CC” symbol that appears in the bottom-right corner.
5. Issues such as looping and lagging are most often sorted by refreshing the page.
6. To improve the strength of your internet connection, try to limit the number of devices connected to the router you are using. We also recommend closing all other windows, programmes and apps on the device you are using to watch the film.
7. It can help to bring your device closer to your router if you find your internet connection is poor.
8. If the film unexpectedly stops playing, please check your internet connection and try restarting your router.
Tales from Winnipeg-specificguidance
To access each film, pass holders must log in with the email they booked with, click the “Buy tickets / use pass to unlock films” button on any film programme, and you will be able to use your pass to unlock it.
Before a film programme goes live, you can pre-order your ticket. Once it’s live, unlocking a film is immediate.
Festival pass holders have access to all content once each event goes live until midnight on Tuesday 01/09.
Festival pass holders will receive a Tales From Winnipeg zine via post once they have emailed us their delivery address at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your individual ticket booking gives you automatic access to all content in a film’s package – you do not need to reserve any additional tickets for additional content such as short films, Q&As, introductions and live performance.
Ela Orleans’ live performance will live stream from 6pm on Friday 28/08, and will be archived for viewing shortly afterwards.
Feature films and other additional content, including short films, Q&As and introductions can be viewed in any order, once the event goes live.
Matchbox Cine’s Tales from Winnipeg event is part of Film Feels Connected, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk
Supported by the High Commission of Canada in the UK
Matchbox Cineclub launch online and internationally with Guy Maddin, Ela Orleans and John Paizs exclusives
We are thrilled to announce our new online platform, launching with a trip to weirdest Canada with our inaugural programme, Tales from Winnipeg. Following our contribution to Glasgow Short Film Festival’s DIVE IN Cinema project, this marks a significant step for us into the world of screening films online. The four-day online event celebrates the output of the legendary, renegade Winnipeg Film Group, with exclusives from icons of cult cinema Guy Maddin and John Paizs. The season runs online at talesfromwinnipeg.eventive.org from August 28th to 30th, with a new film premiering each day and remaining available for the duration of the programme.
Tales from Winnipeg opens with Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, presented with Ela Orleans’ director-approved re-score, commissioned by Matchbox Cineclub in 2017. Ela will perform a live set via Zoom before the film debuts. Guy Maddin will introduce the film, and joins Ela in conversation afterwards. John Paizs’ cult classic Crime Wave joins the line-up on Saturday, with the online debut of Toronto International Film Festival’s 2K restoration – the beloved film has never looked or sounded better. The 2017 documentary Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group debuts on Sunday evening, framed with an introduction and post-screening conversation with directors Kevin Nikkel and Dave Barber. All films in the programme come with brand-new, director-approved subtitles for D/deaf audiences.
The Tales from Winnipegprogramme is full of specially-curated bonus content, in the form of pre-show reels, introductions, live performances, Q&As and short films. Matchbox Cineclub have also produced an accompanying print publication, featuring brand-new artwork by Paizs and Maddin, new poster illustrations by Glasgow-based artist Marc Baines, an exclusive interview with Guy Maddin, an article by Geoff Pevere on John Paizs and Crime Wave, and newly-commissioned writing by director and Winnipeg Cinematheque programmer Dave Barber.
Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee
Matchbox Cineclub programmer Sean Welsh says, “When the pandemic hit, like everyone else, we found our entire upcoming slate wiped clean. As independent exhibitors, we face a longer journey back to normal than cinemas do, since socially distant events are much less viable for us. At the same time, we can take the opportunity to explore all the new possibilities that online events offer, particularly in terms of accessibility and international reach. We’re very excited to present this first programme with optional captions/SDH throughout, and for the first time we can offer French subtitles on our feature presentations too. We’re also thrilled to work with some of our heroes, Guy Maddin, Ela Orleans and John Paizs, to present their work online for the first time in the best way possible.”
Weekend Passes, which grant unlimited access to all films, additional content and a physical copy of the print publication, are £20. Individual tickets to a single film for a limited period are priced on a pay-what-you-can-afford sliding-scale ticket from £0-8, with reference to Matchbox’s Sliding Scale Guide. The programme is available to audiences everywhere, with the exception of North America.
Tickets for Tales from Winnipeg are on sale via Eventive here.
Buy the Tales from Winnipeg zine (free for weekend pass holders) here.
Keep up-to-date with the Tales from Winnipeg Facebook event page here.
The season is part of Film Feels Connected, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk.
The season is supported by Film Feels Connected, Film Hub Scotland and the High Commission of Canada in the UK. #CanadaGoesDigital