Matchbox Cine is bringing renowned author, programmer and film-maker Kier-La Janisse to the UK for a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary, expanded edition of her seminal book House of Psychotic Women (FAB Press). Starting at Matchbox Cine’s Weird Weekend festival in Glasgow on 29/10, the tour will stop in Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Cardiff and London, 31/10 to 05/11.
Matchbox Cine has partnered with the UK’s major genre festivals and exhibitors to co-present each stop, including Dead by Dawn, Mayhem Film Festival, Grimmfest, Abertoir and The Final Girls. At each stop, Kier-La Janisse will introduce a film featured in her book, sign books and take part in a Q&A or In-Conversation hosted by a special guest. Guest hosts include Anna Bogutskaya (The Final Girls), Christina Newland (She Found It at the Movies,) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge).
10 years ago, Kier-La Janisse published HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN, subtitled an “autobiographical topography of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films”. A ground-breaking mix of keen critical analysis and clear-eyed, thoroughly compelling memoir, Janisse’s influential tome inspired a generation of critics, programmers and film-makers. The book has also played no small role in canonising a range of obscure, fringe and forgotten genre titles, many now considered essential.
Titles screened at the various stops will include new restorations of Claude D’Anna’s Tromple l’oeil (1975), Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s Identikit AKA The Driver’s Seat (1974, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol, based on Muriel Spark’s novel) and Polish vampire curio I Like Bats(1986); rare outings for Don Siegel’s Clint Eastwood starrer The Beguiled (1971), David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979) and Robert Wise’s Shirley Jackson adaptation The Haunting(1963); Alice Lowe’s Prevenge(with the director in attendance); and Andrzej Żuławski’s remarkable study in eldritch hysteria, Possession(1981).
The entire tour will feature descriptive subtitles/SDH and live captions, to ensure the events are accessible to as many people as possible.
Kier-La Janisse is a film writer, programmer, producer and founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She is the author of House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (2012), A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (2007), and has been an editor on numerous books including Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive (2021), Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television (2017) and Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (2015). She was a producer on David Gregory’s Tales of the Uncanny (2020) and wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021)for Severin Films, where she is a producer and editor of supplemental features. She is currently at work on several books including a monograph about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter.
The programme is presented by Matchbox Cine as part of In Dreams Are Monsters: A Season of Horror Films, a UK-wide film season supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.indreamsaremonsters.co.uk
Last month, we travelled to New York to screen the original ending of John Paizs’ Crime Wave for the first time in 35 years – from Paizs’ own 16mm print!
In December 2021, we took our Tales from Winnipeg programme to Brooklyn, NYC. We went there at the invitation of Spectacle Theater, the legendary microcinema/”goth bodega” situated in Williamsburg (see the 2020 roundtable we hosted with Caroline Golum, Isaac Hoff & Garrett Linn of Spectacle here). Originally presented online in August 2020 (everywhere except North America), the headliners of our programme are three features – Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee (with Ela Orleans’ re-score), Dave Barber and Kevin Nikkel’s documentary Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group and John Paizs’ seminal Crime Wave, in its 2K restoration. We’ve screened Crime Wave many, many times, and because of that and because we love Spectacle so much, we were keen to do something particularly special. Thankfully, the stars aligned, spectacularly so (pun not intended). John Paizs allowed us to ship the original 16mm print of his film, unprojected since its fateful festival debut in 1985, from Winnipeg to New York. And, crucially, this particular print contained Crime Wave‘s original ending.
The story of Crime Wave‘s premiere – on Friday 13th September, 1985 – has taken on quasi-mythical status. After that “disastrous” first screening, the story often goes, distributors demanded Paizs reshoot the end of his debut feature, which he did, ensuring its status as the Great Canadian Cult Comedy. Truthfully, the version of the film screened then, at Toronto’s Festival of Festivals (precursor to TIFF), is the same one that led critic Jay Scott to proclaim, “If the great Canadian comedy ever gets made, John Paizs might be the one to make it.”
As far as distributor’s demands, John may ultimately have pre-empted them, but he didn’t even sign Crime Wave‘s ill-fated deal until the following year. The “disaster” that night in Toronto was a sound problem that brought the film’s projection to a screeching halt, lighting up the auditorium, just as the third act began. When the film resumed, the belly laughs of the preceding hour were gone, and the audience’s muted response convinced Paizs to do the unthinkable – return to Winnipeg to rewrite and re-shoot the entire final act of his debut feature, having long since exhausted its meagre budget (round about $67,000 Canadian).
The Crime Wave that you may well know and love – the best-known version of the film is still, as far as we’re concerned, criminally underappreciated – has a very distinctive third act. The film ascends into a rattling montage tracing the sharp rise and lonely fall of film-maker Steven Penny (Paizs himself), a frenzied crescendo that fulfils the promise of the first two acts by adrenalising all their wit and invention. Crime Wave goes out on a high, complete with deadpan musical coda as the credits roll. The original ending arrives at something like the same spot, narratively, but detours significantly into darker territory. As Jay Scott noted, esewhere in that oft-quoted review, “the tone switches from mildly nuts and robustly funny to robustly nuts and mildly funny.” At the premiere, the sharpness of that tonal shift coincided perfectly with the 10-20 minute interruption. The comparatively subdued atmosphere in the room afterwards (and a smattering of early departures), alongside some caveated reviews, was enough to convince Paizs he needed to completely rethink the ending.
As the festival buzz dissipated over the next six months, Paizs regrouped in Winnipeg and determinedly reconstructed Crime Wave, his stubborn focus – arguably one of the hallmarks of his hometown cohort – on his own vision and on posterity. Paizs raised a further $10-15,000 and, with the support of his Winnipeg compatriates, who passed the hat around to support the endeavour, delivered the much-loved, “faster and funnier” final cut to premiere in Vancouver on 21st March, 1986. By some estimates, though, that half-year diversion was enough to leave Crime Wave in the wilderness for good. A vaunted distribution deal failed to deliver a theatrical release and, worse, left Paizs’ film in the rights quagmire that it remains in today.
Writer and programmer Geoff Pevere, an early champion of Paizs and Crime Wave responsible for its sight-unseen invite to Toronto, remembered the 16mm print only arriving on the day of the screening, with Paizs. “Later, I heard the director had actually picked up the just-completed print from the lab on the way to catch his plane.” So: struck, screened once and stored for 35 years – that’s the print we showed at Spectacle. When we asked after it, John offered to check some carefully kept 16mm cans, soon confirming some of the heretofore “mystery” reels contained the premiere cut – and not, we hasten to add, the “Director’s Cut”. If one thing’s clear, it’s that John Paizs made the film he wanted to make, though both versions belong on a beautiful boutique blu ray release. Meanwhile, Crime Wave‘s reputation grows, year on year, with every new viewing, hopefully towards the point Paizs’ “lost” classic can find its way home.
Our Crime Wave New York story in pictures
1 | We flew into New York on the evening of Thursday 9th December, and the next morning wandered up to recce the fabled goth bodega and take some jetlagged selfies. We’re big fans of Spectacle’s programming, so figured best to get it out of our system.
2 | Next day, we picked up the print. Our friends at Anthology Film Archives (who screened Crime Wave on 16mm back in 2014) helped us out by taking delivery of John’s print, sent direct from Winnipeg. Anthology’s Jed Rapfogel raised an eyebrow (justifiably) when he heard this was not only the first outing for the original cut in 35 years but quite likely the only extant print, and as-yet unscanned/unpreserved. Off we went to Spectacle to show it to people! #TeamLanglois
3 | Spectacle had hired a 16mm projector for the special event, and with it came projectionist extraordinaire, artist, film-maker and analogue afficionado Ian Burnley. With the requisite care and reverence (not to mention sense of circumstance), Ian unveiled the reel (actually, four reels – John sent the three original reels plus one with the “official” ending, just in case)…
4 | ..and began to prepare them for screening (note John’s careful new notes and the original “MATURE” label). Ian also gave us some great recommendation for cinemas, art shows, galleries and noodles (we were glad to meet Ian).
5 | We sat down with Spectacle’s Caroline Golum to preview the reel ahead of the screening, making sure the set-up worked and John hadn’t pranked us by sending us footage of a Winnipeg family wedding. He hadn’t!
6 | All that was left was to panickedly chalk up the A-board, pose for posterity (that’s Spectacle’s Elias ZX on the left there, Megan in the middle), welcome the sold-out audience and wait for the reviews…
Crime Wave’s 2K restoration screens in Spectacle’s Best of 2021 line-up on Saturday, 8th January at 7:30pm EST and Thursday 27th January at 10pm EST, tickets here. NBthis is not the version with the original ending (just the one we know and love).
Thanks to Elias ZX, Caroline Golum and volunteers at Spectacle Theater, Monica at Winnipeg Film Group, Jed Rapfogel at Anthology Film Archives, Ian Burnley and Herb Shellenberger for helping to facilitate this series. And, of course, to John Paizs.
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
Matchbox Cine is bringing Naoto Yamakawa’s cult classic The New Morning of Billy the Kid back to western audiences, in a limited online presentation with all-new translated subtitles, December 3rd-5th, 2021.
Matchbox Cine is bringing Naoto Yamakawa’s cult classic The New Morning of Billy the Kid(ビリィ★ザ★キッドの新しい夜明け, 1986) back to western audiences, in a limited online presentation, December 3rd-5th, 2021. The film has not been available anywhere with English subtitles, and hasn’t screened in the west at all, since its original, lauded festival run. This event marks its 35th anniversary with an all-new English translation.
In the film, the titular anti-hero takes a job at the Slaughterhouse Saloon, “an arena of dreams where characters, images and situations from popular culture are transmitted into something entirely new.” (Tony Rayns) There, he encounters dish-washer Marx Engels, femme-fatale Sharlotte Rampling (sic) and a range of cultural figures in new guises, including Harry Callahan, Bruce Springsteen and Jesus.
The programme will screen exclusively on Matchbox Cine’s online platform, powered by Eventive. Rounding out the programme are two Yamakawa shorts based on Haruki Murakami short stories, Attack on a Bakery(1982) and A Girl, She is 100% (1983), also with new English translations.
The entire programme features Descriptive Subtitles/SDH and optional Audio Description, to ensure the films are accessible to as many people as possible. Tickets are priced on a sliding scale, so viewers decide what to pay, based on their means, with reference to a tiered sliding scale guide, Free-£8.
The programme 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
Matchbox return with the never-released, undiscovered final feature film from legendary director Paul Bartel!
We’re back, with our first ever hybrid event! SHELF LIFE (Paul Bartel, 1993) + Pre-recorded Cast Q&A with O-Lan Jones, Andrea Stein, Jim Turner and filmmaker Alex Mechanik is Matchbox’s first screening since January 2020.
We have a very limited capacity physical event at Cube Microplex, Bristol, 7pm on Friday 27/08 and an internationally-available, unlimited-availability online version via Eventive, from 7pm Friday 27/08 – Sunday 29/08. Attendees of the physical event will also get access to the online version, and a copy of our print publication. The programme includes a Paul Bartel trailer reel, new cast introductions and a vintage interview with Paul Bartel. The physical event will be open captioned with our new cast-approved descriptive subtitles and the online programme will have optional descriptive subtitles and brand-new audio description on the film only.
SYNOPSIS: Tina, Pam, and Scotty are taken down into Mom and Dad’s well-stocked bomb shelter when Kennedy is assassinated in 1963…and they never come out. Thirty years later, Mom and Dad are a long-dead ‘bag of bones’ and the now-grown kids have created a life for themselves based on remnants from the ’60s, intermittent output from the TV and their wild imaginations.
BACKGROUND: Shelf Life was conceived and written by O-Lan Jones, Andrea Stein and Jim Turner as a result of their rumination on what must become of people boxed in tiny spaces for long, long periods of time. Director Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul, Death Race 2000, Lust in the Dust) saw the closing night performance of the play in 1992 and within six weeks they had begun shooting the film, complete with a fully fabricated fallout shelter on the stages of CFI in Hollywood. Despite a strong festival run and positive reviews, Shelf Life remained unreleased and never found the audience it deserved. After decades underground, the last remaining 35mm print was uncovered at the film archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and digitally restored – this is the UK premiere!
Q&A: This will be recorded in advance, partly to enable us to make it accessible, with quality subtitles. We record on 14/08, and you can pose questions any time between now and then via Slido: bit.ly/ShelfSlido
ZINE: We’re producing a new zine to accompany the event, with new artwork from Calvin Halliday and new responses to Shelf Life from emerging writers, including Logan Kenny. This will be free to all ticket holders and available to purchase separately.
TICKETS: Both physical and online events are priced on a sliding scale: you decide what to pay (£0-£8), with reference to our guide: bit.ly/matchboxscale
ACCESS: The screening will have brand-new, cast-approved descriptive subtitles, created by Matchbox Cinesub. The online version of the event will have optional descriptive subtitles for the entire programme and optional, brand-new audio description for the film. NB Cube Microplex is not wheelchair accessible.
VENUE + SOCIAL DISTANCING: Attendees will be required to wear a mask. We have limited seating to allow for social distancing – two seats between each set and every other row unsold. NB we are adhering to the advice of the UK Government but we also reserve the right to exercise our own judgement, should we feel the event is unsafe to deliver. In the case of cancellation, refunds will be issued automatically. NB Cube Microplex is not wheelchair accessible.
Part of Film Feels Hopeful, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk.
We were very sad to hear this week that Winnipeg Film Group‘s legendary Dave Barber has passed away. We never had the chance to meet Dave in real life, but his documentary Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group featured in our Tales from Winnipeg online programme last year and we were delighted to have his participation in the event. His enthusiasm for WFG, the film-makers and their work was evident and we enjoyed and valued the back and forth we had with Dave before the event and afterwards.
We were also delighted when Dave agreed to write an article on WFG and his documentary for our accompanying zine, which we are publishing online for the first time, below. Our post-screening Q&A with Dave and co-director Kevin Nikkel is also embedded after the article.Winnipeg Film Group are accepting donations in efforts to establish a filmmaking fund in Dave’s name. Donations can be made here.
When I started working at the Winnipeg Film Group in 1983, little did I realise what I was getting into. Hired on to organise a film screening programme called the Cinematheque, I had no idea that I would be a front row witness to so much great, subversive original filmmaking. This nonprofit collective of independent filmmakers had just moved from an old historic block called the Bate Building in downtown Winnipeg into a red brick home called the “Kelly House”, first built in the 1880s.
It was bare bones. I had no chair and no lamp, so I brought them from home along with my dad’s typewriter. My office was upstairs on the second floor with a moose head on the wall and an old fridge. It didn’t take me long to realise that many filmmakers were outlaws at heart, completely dedicated to creating films and pushing everything else out of the way. They would stop at nothing to realise their vision. More than once over the years, a filmmaker would ask if they could grab a prop that was hanging on the wall or in the corner of the room. My chair wound up in a science fiction short. My typewriter wound up in John Paizs’s Crime Wave. Somebody borrowed the moose head and we never saw it again. Our newsletter was christened The Moose.
In the next 35 years I witnessed some of the best independent filmmaking in the world, survived endless stormy personality disputes, staff turnovers, a bleeding ulcer (a near nervous breakdown) two basement office floods, a revolution in the technology of making, distributing and exhibition of movies, and now a pandemic. In some ways, it was a miracle the organisation survived…deficits and staff turnover prompted much soul searching and fund raising. But those that took the high road always pulled the organisation out of the fire.
The Winnipeg Film Group was formed in 1974 by a collective of independent filmmakers who had a dream. To create a place where they could get filmmaking equipment to rent for cheap. They received a grant from the national arts funding body the Canada Council and, with this seed money, the organisation grew. They bought more and better 16mm filmmaking equipment. With the rise in filmmaking activity, there were more films on the shelf and an increasingly important distribution department. Many films went on to win awards and accolades at film festivals around the world. John Paizs’s wildly irreverent feature Crime Wave put the organisation on the map. Nobody had ever seen anything like this before.
I spoke to a filmmaker in Chicago so excited by the scene he heard that was happening in Winnipeg that he wanted to move here and make films. Another woman actually did show up but after ten days of thirty-five-below weather she left town and said, “You people are all crazy.” And she’s right. A crazy obsession is what drives filmmakers to create films in Winnipeg – long cold winter nights and a city far from major centres of influence has led to a body of great artistic work that has won awards at film festivals around the world. What is it about Winnipeg? This sleepy prairie town with a population of just over 700,000 is in the middle of nowhere. A strong visual arts scene, progressive arts council funding and endless cold winters all fuel the seeds of creativity.
When the Winnipeg Film Group moved yet again in 1986 into the Artspace Building, this time they had an equipment room much larger than the broom closet at Kelly House and a large empty space which became a studio. (re-named The Black Lodge) Hundreds of films have been shot in that space. If you set up a camera on a pedestal and filmed the room in stop motion over the years you would see a blur of sets being built and dismantled including a locomotive train for Guy Maddin’s Odilon Redon.
New emerging filmmakers walk in the door all the time. Every six years, there are radical changes in what filmmakers are creating. More recently there is a rise of the Indigenous Filmmakers Association and many significant women filmmakers creating great new work nurtured by the Winnipeg Film Group commission program Mosaic Women’s project.
Kevin Nikkel and I faced a challenging task in making this documentary Tales From the Winnipeg Film Group. For years, many filmmakers talked about creating a documentary about the organisation but the idea was too daunting. How do you tell 40 years of history with its endless sea of changes?
What is the story? Is there any archival footage or photographs? Who should you interview? In many ways, the Winnipeg Film Group is like the great Kurosawa movie Rashomon. Everyone sees their own version of the truth. We received an invaluable commissioning grant from TV producer Cam Bennett in the MTS Stories from Home and drew up a list of over 100 filmmakers, former staff and board members. Kevin travelled to Los Angeles, London, England and Washington, DC with his family and, while there, interviewed some filmmakers who had moved away. We drew a graph chart on the wall and listed high points in WFG history. The birth of the group, from discussions at the Film Symposium at the University of Manitoba. The move into the Kelly House at 88 Adelaide Street. The endless wrangling over the direction of the group. The rise of various filmmaking movements. Some people didn’t want to be interviewed and some were just way too busy making films. It was very tough finding archival footage and photographs. A visiting German filmmaker Sissy Schneider made a great short documentary film in the 1990s called Guys without an Attitude and generously allowed us to include a short except. Another German filmmaker, Alexander Bohr, made a documentary on Canadian filmmakers in 1992 and allowed us to use part of a segment on the Winnipeg Film Group shot inside our production offices in the Artspace Building.
Cam generously allowed us an extension on the deadline to do more research and interview more people. But the clock was ticking and we soon realised we had to stop as the funding strand was collapsing. We wrestled hard in the editing room and the tone of the film changed direction several times. But the filmmaking continued. And it always will. Because it is all that matters.
Winnipeg Film Group are accepting donations in efforts to establish a filmmaking fund in Dave’s name. Donations can be made here. You can read WFG’s tribute to Dave here.
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.
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.
It’s with very heavy hearts we have to announce the cancellation of Remakesploitation Fest 2020, our celebration of 1970s and 1980s Turkish fantastic cinema, in collaboration with Iain Robert Smith and Remakesploitation Film Club. Originally planned to run in April 2020, then postponed until October 2020, the festival would’ve featured the 2K restoration of “Turkish Star Wars” aka Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (Çetin İnanç, 1982) as well as the documentary Remake, Remix, Rip-Off (Cem Kaya, 2014) and the remakesploitation classics Fıstık Gibi Maşallah (Hulki Saner, 1964), Turist Ömer Uzay Yolu’nda (Hulki Saner, 1973), Cellat (Memduh Ün, 1975) and Şeytan (Metin Erksan, 1974).
Sadly, it’s become clear that in-person events at CCA Glasgow will not be possible for at least the rest of this year. Having postponed once already, back in March, we won’t consider rescheduling any of our events until we are certain they can go ahead safely, as originally planned.
Pass + ticket holders will be refunded automatically. This can take several days to process, but the process is underway already. If you have any questions, please get in touch: email@example.com. — with Remakesploitation and CCA Glasgow.
Ahead of our Tales from Winnipeg season, which features Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, with Ela Orleans’s new score, Cathy Brennan spoke to the director about the project
In 2017, we commissioned Ela Orleans to write and perform a new score for Guy Maddin’s 2003 film Cowards Bend the Knee. It was a connection suggested by journalist Brian Beadie, a dream project for Ela and, it turned out, a dream come true for Guy. For our first online programme, Tales from Winnipeg, we’re thrilled to present the film with Ela’s studio recording of the score for the first time, and delighted to have Guy’s participation – he’ll introduce the film and joins Ela for an hour-long In Conversation afterwards. Before that, Cathy Brennan spoke to Guy to get his thoughts on the film’s origins.
Cathy Brennan: In your 2002 interview with Robert Enright, you said you thought that Cowards Bend the Knee might be your last film. Given how prolific you’ve been in the years since, how have your feelings about the film evolved?
Guy Maddin: Wow, I don’t remember saying it would be the last film. I tend to be self-pitying and melodramatic, so I probably just say that before every film. What I say now has evolved into “I’m going to make this as if it’s my last film.” In other words I’m going to give it my best shot and hope that it represents what I’ve been trying to do all these years in the best possible way.
I can barely watch any of movies as they age because they represent the work of someone I no longer am. It’s embarrassing, it would be like watching yourself struggling with some things that you’ve long ago since learnt how to do. A lot of people wouldn’t be that comfortable with having non-filmic work put on public display a couple of decades after they’ve made it.
I’ve always viewed my films as inventories of errors rather than an accumulation of accomplishments. There’s a couple of exceptions: I like watching The Green Fog, a movie we made in 2017. We actually watched it with audiences a few times . And I’ve watched Cowards Bend the Knee now maybe five times over the last 18 years and been quite proud of it, actually.
There’s a few things I’d change; the first six-minute chapter gets off to a bit of a slow start, but, then, once it gets going, I’m very proud of it. I remember the feeling I had while I made it. I felt like I was really in a zone, you know, where every time I pointed my camera I found something worth shooting. I made plot connections in my head as I was shooting. It was a real frenzy of creativity and I just made this humble 62-minute long feature. To make it in five very short work days -really just half days-was something I’m very proud of.
Like I say, it just came out in one piece there’s so many autobiographical elements in it I could just assemble my cast of characters and keep them all handy at all times and then start putting them through their uninhibited motions, their disinhibited emotions based on real life events. I dunno, I wish I could make all my films like that.
I followed up by making another silent film that also played with live musical accompaniment Brand Upon The Brain. And that came out in one piece as well but just not quite as insanely. It’s more of an epic and it’s much longer. This one [Cowards] really felt as crazed as I was when I lived the events.
I wanted to ask a bit about your working relationship with Ela. How did it start? What are your thoughts on her score for Cowards, and do you have a favourite section in it?
I love the whole score. Ela may have a different version of this but I think she just asked if she could make a score and I said “yeah” and then she sent me her work as it progressed. I think she just worked through it in order or at least that’s how I got it – Chapters 1 through 10, in script order from her.
I’m very grateful for her opening, the chapter 1 score because I basically just DJ’d the original movie with old classical music chestnuts and the piece of music I had put in there before was so dreary. The opening six minutes felt like 20 minutes and felt like just a list of character names to be memorised for a test, or something like that. She just came up with a piece that brought it to life much more. It didn’t change the visual content, but it sure seemed like it did. It quickened the pace of the cutting. The pure exposition clumsily conveyed by me in that chapter was just made more pleasurable to assimilate, made it seem more part of the story rather than just exposition shovelled down the throats of the viewers. So, I’m most grateful for that.
I love the way she keeps shifting gears and even when she brings vocals in at one point which surprises me and which comes as a really welcome surprise. I don’t think I really thought of a favourite section, but I’ve just kind of marvelled at her sense of pacing and how she changes it up. I often think in baseball metaphors, so I don’t know how useful that is for you over there [in the UK], but just the way a pitcher is more successful if he changes speeds and location and curves each pitch in the idea is to keep the variety coming. So, in Ela’s case, I just like the way she startles the ear every few minutes and it just feels right. She’s got a really strong intuition for it.
I hesitate to use the word, because it sounds so corporate but there’s this great synergy between Ela’s score and your film. I believe you you mentioned in that 2002 conversation about the atmosphere, while filming Cowards, being very mischievous, and I sort of detect that same sense of mischief in her score, particularly with sound effects. I think there’s one bit dressing room and Dr Fusi just smacks one of the players on the butt and there’s a cartoon “thwack” sound.
Some of the sound effects came over from the original soundtrack, but she was smart enough to keep them, another she deleted, and then others she created herself and I think she created that one. I dunno, she’s just she’s just really on the right wavelength, that’s all I know.
I’ve had other alternate scores done for this very movie, actually. It’s been really interesting comparing them, but Ela really comes closest. Not closest, Ela is a true collaborator. I was going to say she comes closest to getting what I’m up to but, no, it’s more than that. A collaborator’s actually supposed to make you look better, and she does do that.
It’s kind of like you know Bernard Herrmann and Hitchcock not that I’m Hitchcock. It’s just you can feel when Bernard Herrmann’s score in Vertigo was actually making the movie way better, and I love that. but I just think of it as a collaboration among all of its makers and you can feel the with Ela in that first chapter. She really gets the movie going off to the start that I failed to supply. I remember an anecdote about Vertigo where Hitchcock handed the reel where Jimmy Stewart is just driving around for 10 minutes in front of rear screen projection. And he [Hitchcock] just handed it to Herrmann and said, “This reel is all yours,” you know, something to that effect. It feels good to make a movie, knowing you can just hand something off to somebody and know they’ll make you look better.
My version of synergy is, every now and then, I come up limping and have to hand it off to Ela and I know she’ll haul me out of the trenches and across no-man’s-land in spite of all the mustard gas and deliver something that looks a lot better than my carcass.
That’s really sweet.
If you don’t mind. I just wanted to shift the little bit to talk about about the Winnipeg Film Group. The documentary Tales From was kind of a whistlestop tour of the history of the group.
I haven’t seen it, you know? It’s strange. I’m in it, I think, but I was scared to watch it. I can’t stand watching myself.
You were in it for about five minutes and come across very well, if I may say so. I just wanted to know a bit more about the role that the film group had on the production of Cowards specifically.
Right. I don’t remember them having much to do with Cowards. Let’s see, I owned the cameras. I had about six Super 8 cameras just in case one broke down, I’d keep five spare Super 8 cameras in the boot of my car and whenever one wound down I’d run out and go get another one. I own the light I think we only used one light most of the time we might have rented a few lights from the film group and as a member I got cheap rates – $10 a light a day or something like that.
Since making Cowards, the film group have taken to distributing it and they’ve been very good about that. But I remember making the film almost secretly. I was in pre-production on another film at the time in 2003 I shot The Saddest Music in the World which was a much bigger budgeted movie. It was $3.5 million then. Still small I guess but the biggest I’ve ever had. and Cowards Bend the Knee was $5,000 to build a few sets and to get the film stock purchased and processed. My producers on Saddest Music in the World would have been very upset to know I was working on another project so during pre-production I would sneak away for the greater part of five days in a row and shot Cowards Bend the Knee. And, so, no-one really knew about it other than the cast members of Cowards and and then some of them later appeared just a few weeks later in Saddest Music in the World.
It was 18 years ago that I shot it in like October or September 2002 so there are snow plows just out of frame all the time. There’s some real hockey ice and a nearby hockey rink that we went to on the very first morning and shot off all the hockey, so slightly out of script order and then went back and shot all the dry land stuff in this snow plow garage. I don’t recall anyone noticing and I would have meetings about Saddest Music in the World that I would have to hop in my car and drive a few blocks over to the other studio to make Cowards and then come back and keep shooting Saddest Music. Of the two, I loved making both those movies , but I really love the outlaw aspects of making a movie on the sly. Normally you think of guerrilla filmmaking you think of hiding from the police and not using permits and and running from one suspicious person to another out on the streets, but I covertly went into the snow plow go up and was hiding from no police officers at all. I even insured the movie shoot in case someone fell to their deaths at the Winnipeg Arena. So it was legitimate that way. I just didn’t want my producers the other film to know so in that way it’s a strange form of guerrilla film-making. Another example of how sketchy and sneaky I am sometimes for no reason when I could have just been straight up and said, “Hey, I’m shooting this thing, please permit me to miss a few hours of work in this other place.” Instead, I had to prop up a dummy that looked like me in my office of this other shoot and set it off so I could make my escape Alcatraz-style.
The secretive nature of the production fits that underworld, psychological aspect of Cowards, like the salon/bordello and the secret wax museum.
I think everything everything fitted but that just repressed the whole endeavour and seemed to make it even more urgent and more explosively powerful when I did let spill on some really humiliating confessions. because the movie is nothing if it’s not a big ejaculation of shameful reminiscences and ejaculations were far better for being shot illicitly.
I just want to picture it back to the Film Group. This is a bit of a selfish question, but when I was watching the documentary I found myself making a list of films and film-makers to watch. Are there any young filmmakers working at the group now whose work you’re excited by?
Yeah, I haven’t seen much lately, but I know Matthew Rankin has made a feature recently called The Twentieth Century, which a lot of people loved. I’ve seen the shorts made leading up to it and I really like them and so I would say that one’s worth a look among the new ones.
I also like Mike Merinec. He might be working just outside the film group. You know what film co-ops are like:people fall in love with each other and then there’s inevitably some kind of falling out. So Mike’s working may well have been made after a falling out or something. There’s often a board that’s at odds with the film-makers and all sorts of inner intrigue. Or people start sleeping with each other accidentally and grudges start to form and all sorts of stuff. That’s just sort of inevitable. It’s sort of like a rock band in that way.
One last question: your film films often hark back to the past. How do you think the meaning of that backward-looking perspective changes depending on how a viewer engages with the film? For example, if it was shown in a cinema or through an online screening like Matchbox are doing with Cowards Bend the Knee, where people may be watching on their phones or tablets.
Yeah, it’s beyond me, in a way. I kind of just made it the way I did. I started off in 16mm and always assumed I would move graduate to 35mm and then, God knows, maybe even 70mm Cinerama. Y’know, big budget Hollywood films. But I quickly stalled after getting a chance to make a film in 35mm in the late ’90s, a film I didn’t like at all, and so I wandered around in a desert for a few years.
Then one of my students, a guy named Decko Dawson, with whom I made a short film called Heart of the World which is shot in both 16 and Super 8. This student of mine had this film that just looked so cool and I just realised that 35mm and all the corporate sophistication that I was just starting to get whiffs of could be just ignored utterly. If I made a plunge back into the more primitive gauges of Super 8 where green and shadow, the tendency towards high-contrast imagery because it has an auto aperture on it, would just plunge me more into a kind of a mythic past.
Since the subject matter that interested me most was the dawn of my memory and even my prehistory, sort of a mythological figuring out of my earliest years or my earliest attempts at being sexual or ethical. Just those early primitive attempts at doing the right thing seemed almost Euripidean in their flaws and murkiness and timelessness somehow. I seem to be making exactly the same mistakes as characters in 2,500-year-old Euripedes plays and I seem to be making them with some atavistic connection to the darkest roots of such mistakes.
It just seemed like the lower the gauge, the deeper I punished myself into the very Earth, the depths of my most murky thought processes. The kind I guess when you’re just beginning and you’re just forming your lips into a hungry circle in the hopes you’ll be fed, to the slightly more sophisticated point where you’re lying to a friend to seduce his girlfriend.
It just all seemed to line up: the black and white, the wordlessness. I guess silent film is just one step closer to cave painting than talking pictures. They’re just images saying things. Now I do have intertitles with plenty of text and I’ve even thought recently about replacing all those with bright, crisp, new digital ones. But I like the way I shot the intertitles in that movie with the same kind of reckless spirit with which I shot all the humans acting things. It turns out they’re all out of focus, but I decided to keep them anyway because I felt this should come out in one piece. And so it did.
Tickets for Tales from Winnipeg are on sale via Eventive here.
An edited/alternative version of this interview appears in our Tales from Winnipeg zine (free for weekend pass holders, available to purchase separately here).
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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