Arts and Culture Quiz: 24/10/19

Are you a pop-culture expert? Test your knowledge with this week’s quiz, starring Harry Styles, Lil Nas X and Barney the Dinosaur!

 

Top 8 female directors

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Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2009. (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Yet again there was an absence of female directors in this year’s major awards ceremonies nominations. Apart from Kathryn Bigelow’s 2009 Academy Award Best Director win for her film, The Hurt Locker, female directors have largely been neglected from the best director category at the Oscars as well as the BAFTAs.

Despite this, there is an abundance of talented creative women who should be known and appreciated for their contributions to the world of film. So, just in time for International Women’s Day, here’s a list of 10 fantastic female directors.

1) Lynne Ramsey

'You Were Never Really Here' premiere, BFI London Film Festival, UK - 14 Oct 2017

Lynne Ramsey’s latest film You Were Never Really Here starred Joaquin Phoenix in the leading role. (Credit: Pete Summers)

Scottish-born director, cinematographer, writer and producer, Lynne Ramsey, won the Cannes Jury Prize for her first short film Small Deaths and since then has gone on to direct, write and produce a number of successful films. We Need to Talk About Kevin, released in 2011, starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller was met with positive reviews and was nominated for a number of awards including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Most recently Ramsey wrote, directed and produced psychological thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here. The film won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

 

2) Ava DuVernay

Before diving into the world of film, Ava DuVernay was involved in journalism and PR, working for 20th Century Fox, but ended up creating her own PR agency, The DuVernay Agency. But since 2005, after she made her first film Saturday Night Life, DuVernay has been involved in the production of films, television, music videos and advertising. In 2014, she directed Selma, a film based on the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr. The film was nominated for best picture at the Oscars but DuVernay missed out on a best director nomination. Most recently, DuVernay is set to direct a New Gods adaptation for the DC Extended Universe.

 

3) Jennifer Kent

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Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook terrified audiences in 2014. (Credit: Indiewire)

Starting her career as an actress, Jennifer Kent starred in a number of Australian-based television series before becoming an acting teacher at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. But it was in 2014 that she wrote and made her directorial debut making one of the most memorable horror films of the 21st century, The Babadook. Following the story of a mother and son in turmoil as they are haunted by a disturbing presence in their home, The Babadook received rave reviews from critics and won a number of awards including best horror at the 20th Empire Awards.

 

4) Karyn Kusama

After working on documentary films following her graduation from New York University, Karyn Kusama directed her first feature film, Girlfight, starring Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, Widows) and released it in 2000. The film received a series of awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Since then, Kusama directed the cult classic comedy horror film Jenifer’s Body in 2009 and in 2015 directed the well-received psychological thriller, The Invitation. Now available on Netflix, The Invitation follows a number of couples at a dinner party gone wrong.

 

5) Valerie Faris

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The dysfunctional Hoover family captured the hearts of audiences in Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Little Miss Sunshine. (Credit: Eric Lee/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Teamed up with her husband, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris has won six MTV Music Video Awards while directing music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M. and Oasis just to name a few. However, the pair made their feature film directorial debut in 2006 with the highly successful, Little Miss Sunshine, which one two BAFTAs and two Oscars. The film starred big names including Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and Alan Arkin and followed the Hoover family as they took a road-trip to watch Olive (Abigail Breslin), compete in the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant. Faris is currently working on Living With Yourself, a comedy series starring Paul Rudd set to be released on Netflix in the next year.

 

6) Catherine Hardwicke

It wouldn’t be a proper list of great female directors without the woman responsible for the first movie in the Twilight Saga. Love it or hate it, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight made $35.7 million in the US on its opening day and at the time, the film’s opening weekend gross was the most ever made by a film directed by a women. Twilight aside, Catherine Hardwicke also directed The Nativity Story (2006), Red Riding Hood (2011) and most recently Miss Bala (2019).

 

7) Mary Harron

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Christian Bale starred as Patrick Bateman in Marry Harron’s American Psycho. (Credit: Culturised)

Starting out as a music journalist writing for Punk magazine, Mary Harron also wrote for The Guardian and The Observer before directing a number of documentaries for the BBC. Following her directorial debut I Shot Andy Warhol, Harron went on to direct American Psycho in the year 2000, based on the book by Brett Easton Ellis. The black-comedy starred Christian Bale in the leading role as the infamous Patrick Bateman, alongside Willem Defoe, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux and Reese Witherspoon. Harron has also directed numerous TV series including the 2017 Netflix miniseries, Alias Grace. 

 

8) Kathryn Bigelow

Becoming the first woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2009 for her 2008 film, The Hurt Locker. Bigelow’s first feature directorial debut was The Loveless (1981), a biker drama starring Willem Defoe in the leading role. Since then, Kathryn Bigelow has directed and written a number of successful movies including the 2017 film Detroit, which stars John Boyega, Will Poulter and Algee Smith, just to name a few.

 

You can check out our favourite female film characters podcast here.

 

Young photographers launch renewable energy exhibition

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The photographers: Magnus Kermack, Michaela McStay, Rachel Gilliver and Anna Batey (Credit: Bia Collective)

A group of young photographers, known as Bia collective, are launching a four-part exhibition focusing on the subject of renewable energy.

The four students, based in Edinburgh, have funded the exhibition themselves in order to display their work.

The topic of the exhibition is as current as ever, with recent figures showing that renewable power reached record highs in the UK last year, with renewable power supplying over a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

This week, Scottish Power announced that it will invest £2 billion in green energy. The company have closed or sold all of its coal and gas power pants, instead choosing to focus on renewable energy.

Each photographer has focused on a different area relating to renewable energy to showcase different ways that it is used in today’s society.

The week-long exhibition will be held at UNIONgallery in Edinburgh from March 13 and is free to visitors.

Here are the photographers:

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A piece of Gilliver’s work at Inverary Watchtower (Credit: Rachel Gilliver)

 RACHEL GILLIVER – 20 – COATBRIDGE

“My work focuses on wind power and will contain images from a wind farm, highlighting everything present at one of these parks.

“I chose this because I wanted to analyse the stigma around these large turbines and look into the controversial opinions surrounding them as many people are against wind turbines because they feel they ruin the natural beauty of the countryside, without taking into consideration the positive impact they have on the environment.

“I took my photos at Blacklaw II wind farm in South Lanarkshire, where there are 54 turbines with a capacity of 124 megawatts, making it one of the biggest wind farms in the UK.

“I think the main reason I chose my particular theme about the concerns for the natural beauty of the countryside, was to try and convey that if we completely turn our backs on renewable energy altogether, eventually there might not be a countryside for turbines to ruin.”

 

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A piece of McStay’s work from a documentary project with Narcissus Flowers (Credit: Michaela McStay)

MICHAELA MCSTAY – 21 – BRIDGE OF WEIR

“My project will be looking into the aesthetics of solar panels.

“It is commonly known that Solar panels and wind turbines are considered more of an eye sore than a benefit to the environment.

“With my project I would like to challenge this, by showing the comparison of solar panels and existing aesthetically similar structures in the urban environment.”

 

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Batey took this image for a previous project entitled Females in Agriculture (Credit: Anna Batey)

ANNA BATEY – 20 – CARLISLE

“I am creating a series of images exploring the positive impacts that the installation of anaerobic digester plants has had on several farms in Cumbria, and the benefits this has for the environment and surrounding community.

“I chose this topic as I felt it was quite an unusual form of renewable energy and not something that the majority of people will be familiar with.

“I have spent several weeks travelling to different farms, viewing and photographing a range of different sized anaerobic digester plants, with the hopes of being able to capture a broad spectrum of what they are really about and why so many farmers across the UK have taken the leap to install one.

“I think it is an important topic to cover as it highlights an unusual way of generating renewable energy, specifically in an industry that gets a bad press for their contribution towards a more sustainable future.”

 

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Kermack’s image from exploring different coastal towns in Scotland (Credit: Magnus Kermack)

MAGNUS KERMACK – 22 – ABERDEEN

“Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, is home to 55 people, but it was only in September that they got access to round the clock power.

“I travelled to Britain’s most remote inhabited island to try to find out the impact this new source of clean energy has had.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queer Artists’ Exhibition

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The Queer Arts Collective Exhibition launched this Tuesday. Queer artists have contributed through several different mediums to celebrate the Queerness of art and lives.

In light of LGBT History month, the newly founded Queer Arts Collective and the LGBT+ Liberation Officer at the student association of the University of Edinburgh have come together for this month-long celebration of queer culture.

Natasha Ion, the LGBT+ Liberation Officer, and Fiona Grey, Co-founder of the Queer Arts Collective, put together an opening night party for their exhibition, that aims not only to promote queer art but also to establish a queer arts collective, as they are looking for further engagement in Queer arts exhibitions and performances.

“This exhibition is really to establish ourselves as a collective, so it’s about promoting queer art and artists,” Natasha says.

“We feel like the event fit well into LGBT History Month. What I think is really nice about this is that it’s a really positive exhibition, and really all about celebrating queer life and queer arts, focusing on that side of the LGBT+ community.”

Almost 20 artists contributed pieces to the exhibition and all the artists that contributed were or were assumed to be queer.

“We didn’t make it explicit saying that you absolutely had to be queer to exhibit to us, but it’s done with the assumption that queer artists submit pieces.”

Fiona Grey explains how the exhibition was without any overhead budget, and that it was a group effort of people coming together more than anything.

“It’s more like a thing where I brought some nails and some blue-tack, and I already had a hammer, and the ECA provided us with a white wall to hang things up on,” Fiona explains.

All the white wall pieces will be up for viewing in ECA until February 15th.

On opening night, the show included spoken word, music, performance art and animation. The organisers are ‘chuffed’ with the results and number of contributions to the exhibition.

“We’ve had a whole bunch of artists contribute and we’re really happy to have the event tonight because we only have a certain amount of wall space,” Natasha continues.

“Having the event means we can also include music, spoken word, performance art and animation, whereas all the other contributions have to be flat.”

Artist Zac Hughson on gender norms, working in retail and haircuts

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Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

Displacement. It means something different to everyone. It connotes a different feeling. But it is something we have all felt, experienced, fought against or thrived within at one point in our lives.

Displacement is the theme for Edinburgh College of Art’s newest Canvas exhibition. The theme allows artists to explore the limitations they face within their creative fields and themselves as artists and individuals. Not only does the exhibition allow artists to showcase their personally explorative works, it invites varied art forms and artists to merge and inspire discussions. The Canvas collective hope to do more than inspire discussions. The Canvas collective hope to do more than inspire, but rather challenge the artist and the viewer.

ECA’s Firehouse Building opened its doors for the exhibition’s launch night on Thursday 31st January. The mood of the room was serene and thoughtful. Under dimmed lighting, a huge installations stood out in a darkened corner. A hilly mound of structured wool topped grey masses of concrete – one ball and one cube. The piece was untitled, and the artist behind the work – Zac Hughson – admitted he has never named any of his work. Ever. Although, he did give the two pieces of concrete various pet names.

Zac is a third year Sculpture student at ECA. He’s engaging, open and eloquent. The more you speak with Zac, the more the apparent how perfect the use of concrete is. He believes it’s a misunderstood material. It begins as something to be freely shaped but it doesn’t have to remain in any set form.

Zac spoke to EN4News on the opening night of the exhibition.

The stem of a lot things I’ve been doing comes from recently getting my haircut. That sounds so banal and minor but it made such a weird, unexpected difference in my life.

When I got my haircut people would speak to me in a different way. I work in retail so I noticed the way people address me behind a till is very different now. Male customers tended not to speak to me that much but now that I’ve had my haircut I get asked so many sports questions. The way people will address me or assume how I’ll speak with them now is quite strange because I’m still the same person. I think when there’s something that isn’t masculine or feminine and instead something that is crossing and merging those boundaries is when people sort of freak out a bit.

I’m documenting the shift in relationships between masculinity and femininity and their place in the world. We can start investigating our own things in third year and it’s resulted in me going against the norm. Experiencing things, experiencing change and then pushing that onto objects, spaces and contexts.

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Untitled by Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

I like to blur things, change them and play with things. I really like looking at and exploring binary – sometimes I go out with make up on and glitter and then some days I just like to look really plain. I think it’s fun express but then taking in response to that is eye opening to the way people work.

A reaction is better than no reaction. I like people to come up with their own meaning and take away from it what they can. I think it has got to a point of looking at relationships between things and then they can take away what sort of relationship between that is. I’m not forcing it, it’s not a very explicit piece, it’s personal in a respect but not so obvious.

Certain people take certain things away from it. It does have quite a masculine look to it and almost a caricature of a formal, bold masculine sculpture.

I’ve never been happy with how an art piece turns out in my life! I think as soon as I’ve produced something than I have a yearning to push it further or to change it.

I like engaging with material, I think that is the primal side of sculpture. I think it’s so much more alive than other forms of art. I feel much more connected to it. I feel like I can manipulate it more than other types of art and then it can live in a different space.

I’m actually really weird about where my work gets exhibited – I must be a picky artist type! But I’m really pleased with the curation of this space. I think my piece works in this space and I’m excited to have my work exhibited with other people and disciplines. It’s really different from what I’ve done so far.

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Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

 

A book launch celebrating all things queer

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Michael Lee Richardson and Ryan Vance. (Photo Credit: Sebastian Faugstad)

“I tuck myself under the spathe
as if it were my mother’s pleated skirt.
Corpse-flower. Corpse-stiff and sweet,
the rotted grunt of its scent
enfolding me like a red womb,
holding me tight, safe against the spadix”

Poet Rachel Plummer reads one of her poems in front of eager listeners, Titan Arum. She is one of the contributing writers who have come to St Andrews Brewing Company in Edinburgh for the book launch of We Were Always Here. The world outside the windows is dark and frightening but in here, in this room warmed up by candlelight, diversity is fully accepted and there is no fear.

It is crowded. Glasses filled with beer and wine rest on the wooden tables that match the walls in the bar. On one of the tables there are stacks with the pink anthology, in which the words across the pages are written by people who identify themselves as queer. Other than Rachel Plummer, the contributors Andrés Ordorica, Jay G Ying and Christina Neuwirth are also here tonight.

“I’m going to finish with a poem about the Loch Ness Monster,” Rachel says, as she stands closer to the microphone. She explains that she thinks the monster is non-binary. On the top of her head, a leopard hat can be seen as part of the evening’s animal print theme. She lets go of the microphone and leaves the stage, but the hat stays on for the rest of the night.

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Poet Rachel Plummer. (Photo credit: Linnéa Lind)

“When I was in primary school, I had a fantastic teacher. I really loved poetry and he gave me a poem to read and to memorise. I just loved him so much that I started to write my own versions and my own poems. I haven’t stopped since,” she says while adjusting the leopard on her head.

Rachel has received a commission from LGBT Youth Scotland to write children’s poems based on traditional Scottish folk stories. She says that her sexual orientation often comes through in her poetry.

“I have two children. When I used to tell stories to my daughter I would swap the genders as I read them. Then I thought that maybe other people would be interested in these versions of these stories. That’s how I got into writing children’s poetry.”

When Rachel was young, she did not have many friends and would read many books.
“I felt really different to everybody else and that’s partly because of the queerness and the difference. I read a lot to escape from that. The whole thing made me feel kind of monstrous and I thought that maybe I was the only one in the world who felt like that,” she reveals, “I would really like to put my poetry in the hands of children who feel like that and show them that they are allowed to exist.”

The editors of the anthology, Ryan Vance and Michael Lee Richardson, share their excitement and often laugh with the listeners. Together, they run Queer Words Project Scotland for emerging queer writers. The anthology We Were Always Here is the result of queer literary pieces that were chosen among many submissions.

“A part of the project is to widen the margins a bit and creating a space for people that don’t always get an opportunity and a space,” says Michael Lee Richardson.

The book cover may be delightful and cheery in its pink shade, but the content deals with serious issues such as homophobia and sexual abuse.

“There is a lot of work in the book that reflects on how difficult it is to just get by sometimes. If you read it from cover to cover, there are a few shifts in tone. The pieces go from sweet heart-warming narratives about people finding their place in the world, to shocking moments of thinking that this is horrific, and it’s really refreshing to see queer people allowed to be monsters. We can’t be the best at everything and good all the time, we’re human,” says Ryan Vince.

Today is the first day of the LGBT History Month, which occurs in February each year in Scotland. Read more about it here.

Beating the boobie blues

Three local artists help to raise awareness of breast cancer

Left to right: Kathleen Moodie, Jennifer Colquhoun and Beth Lamont.

Step 1: Touch. Step 2: Look. Step 3: Check. T-L-C. While there is no definitive method for checking your breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, UK charity Breast Cancer Now are asking you to try a little TLC. Early detection is crucial in treating and beating the disease – most cases of breast cancer are first found by women themselves.

This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and fundraising events have been taking place across the country to support this issue. On 19th October, three Edinburgh-based artists got together at Custom Lane in Leith to raise money and awareness for a disease that one in eight women in the UK will develop in their lifetime.

The collaborative project, Boobzapalooza, headed by knitwear designer Kathleen Moodie is a ‘month-long celebration of all things breast’. Together with scientific illustrator Jennifer Colquhoun and ceramic jewellery designer Beth Lamont, they have designed limited-edition boob-related art that will be sold throughout the month with 40% of the proceeds going directly to Breast Cancer Now.

The Boob Arc Necklace, K.Boobs Booble Hat and The Boob Print are all for sale throughout October.

What made you choose this particular breast cancer charity?

Kathleen Moodie: “I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 and she’s an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and she suggested to go for them. Partly because they are registered in Scotland as well, so the money is coming from Scotland and staying in Scotland, that for her is something that is really important. It was something that none of us had thought of. We just thought, ‘oh, yeah we’ll pick a breast cancer charity and it will be great’, and Victoria said, ‘you’ve got to make sure it’s a Scottish one’ and it makes so much sense.” 

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

The event is about making breast cancer less scary and approaches the disease in a fun and direct way. Why is that important?

Jennifer Colquhoun: “Last year, I found a lump in my own breast and I was terrified. I thought that was me because a few years ago my aunt died of breast cancer, so it was in the family. But it turns out mine was a fibroadenoma which is a benign tumour. It’s also commonly known as the breast mouse which I thought was hilarious. I really wanted to do a picture of the breast mouse but nobody really knew what I was talking about.”

A customer tries on Kathleen Moodie’s Booble Hat.

Why do you think the arts is a good way of talking about and addressing big issues such as breast cancer?

Beth Lamont: “I guess it just gives it a tangible thing. You can still donate money, but you get to take something away. The next time someone is wearing their pink necklace someone can be like, oh I like that’ and you can be like, ‘oh it was actually for this charity’ and you talk about it again. Though they are only on sale for the month that conversation will hopefully keep on going because of that product, that piece of art, that hat, is not going to go away.”

The Boobzapalooza event held at Custom Lane, Leith.

The limited-edition pieces are available throughout October and can be purchased online here.

 

Interview: Forrest Can’t Run

Edinburgh-based rockers launch debut EP with a bang.

The five-piece pop-punk outfit has been around for about a year and a half now, wowing various venues across the capital. Their debut EP “Time Will Tell” launched Friday so now you can be wowed at home, too.

EN4 News caught up with the guys after a loud and energetic launch show at Edinburgh’s Opium Nightclub. We spoke about their songs, their shows, and what the future holds.

The Band

  • Danny Crawford – Vocals and Frontman
  • Cal Carruthers – Lead Guitar
  • Ross Jenkins – Normal Guitar
  • Lewis Connell – Bass Guitar
  • Simon Drummond – Drums

EN4 News: Before I forget to ask, where exactly can we find your EP? Where is it available?

Danny: Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music

Ross: Amazon, Google Play. (Laughing) KKBOX

EN4 News: What was that last one?

Ross: I just looked up “Forrest Can’t Run” on Google, and it turns out we’re available on KKBOX, it’s a Southeast Asian streaming service. We have no idea how it got there.

EN4 News: During the show you said you’re on Guitar Hero as well? How did you manage that?

Danny: Basically one of my mates, Liam [On Twitch as Docy93] is one of the best Guitar Hero players in Scotland. He remastered an MP3 of us into Guitar Hero and Plays our stuff during his live streams.

EN4 News: So tonight’s gig: how was that for you guys?

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Forrest Can’t Run onstage at Opium.

Lewis: It was unreal.

Danny: I’m very tired, let’s put it that way. The crowd was amazing! To hear them singing our songs back to us was so cool.

Simon: I really enjoyed it, absolutely class.

Danny: It wasn’t just one song either, it was stuff that wasn’t even on the EP release! That was awesome. Mainly because I was really out of breath, and couldn’t sing, so it’s nice to have someone do my job for me. The crowd was probably my favourite thing about the night.

EN4 News: How was recording the EP? Quick and easy or do you all hate each other now?

Danny: Well… (Laughing)

Ross: We recorded two songs back in April, with another drummer who’s left us, and then the two other ones in August with Simon.

Simon: Yeah, I’m technically just the poor substitute.

Danny: “Masquerade” and “Voices” were produced with Mark Morrow Audio. “Stephanie” and “Time Will Tell” were done with a band called Woes who’ve been really helpful.

EN4 News: How have they helped?

Danny: Two of the guys from Woes, Luke and Sean, they took our stuff on a tour they did.

Simon: The tour was for an album they’ve just released.

Danny: Yeah, so after we recorded with them they did all the production, basically made the magic . Really cool. And the EP art was Laurence Crow, I’ll throw that in there as well.

EN4 News: You seem very well organised for only being together for 18 months. Is there any one of you that’s especially behind that?

Danny: If any of you say me I’ll hate you. But I…

Lewis: It’s actually mainly me and Ross.

Danny: What? No.

Cal: I help as well though. So does Simon.

Danny: What?!

Cal: I guess Danny does too.

Danny: Shut up! Ok, I suppose in terms of the merch, (Buy It Here!), that’s all of us. Logos and art is Ross. We even have a band bank account, me and Lewis do that. Lewis brought a card reader too for selling our stuff.

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Lewis Connell on Bass (Right), Danny Crawford on Vocals (Left), and Simon Drummond on Drums (Centre).

Danny: But really, in regards to organisation…

Ross: None of us, really.

Danny: If you look at our band group chat, it’s mostly me telling people what to do and trying really hard not to seem like an arse about it. I try to take charge, but the big decisions are left to the band.

Lewis: And I make sure they’re not crap decisions.

Danny: (Laughing) That’s fair, Lewis does quality control. My job is just making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to. I can be pushy about it but it’s mostly teamwork.

EN4 News: Last big question: what does the future hold for you guys?

Danny: Dunno.

Ross: Album.

Lewis: Album!

Cal: Album.

Simon: Yeah, album.

Danny: Well, we need to write new songs for it first. Maybe music videos too?

Ross: Yeah, We’ll hopefully have a video by early next year.

Lewis: Possibly a Christmas song?

Danny: God no. Anyway, the main idea is to get some new tunes put together, and hopefully also a tour at some point – we’d love to get down to England and play across Scotland. It’s all about broadening our horizons, you know?

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Clockwise from left: Cal, Simon, Lewis, Ross and Danny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forty years of Filmhouse

Since the first electronic television was created in 1927, people have gradually become used to enjoying the entertainment of motion picture at home. Good for some, but has also forced many cinemas to be in a continuous battle to remain up and running.

In the following 90 years, the introduction of VHS, cable channels, digital TV online streaming devices such as Netflix and Now TV have added pressure to the already crowded industry.

A look at Edinburgh’s cinema history alone is a demonstration of this struggle: a city which has seen over 70 cinemas open their doors, has also seen dozens of them shut up shop, and now hosts just nine public picture houses.

Filmhouse is a success story amongst the tales of failure and closures. On October 9th, the cinema will celebrate its 40-year anniversary, and this at a time when it remains as busy as it ever was.

80s crowds

Scorsese on stage

Credits to Filmhouse

Four decades ago, on the same day in 1978, the entity called Filmhouse was first launched. Starting from its very first screening, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the 1972 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the cinema has made strong curatorial decisions and has since then has become a household name for film lovers in search of alternative and foreign films.

Housed at 88 Lothian Road, it is the only cinema in Edinburgh which is registered as a charity, which means none of the money spent within the cinema goes to film distributors or big production companies.

Michael Hunter, marketing officer at Filmhouse, explains how this sets the institution aside from others: “All the money spent here, be it at the bar or at the cinema, goes back into the charity as a donation, for programming great films and organising learning opportunities in Edinburgh.”

However, this doesn’t mean Filmhouse has slackened in its creativity or relies solely on its position as a charity. It has instead become a prime example of how cinemas can stand out and attract new audiences in an age where many people don’t see the point of exiting their cosy living rooms just to see a film.

The cinema is best known in the city as the official home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which takes place for two weeks in June every year. The world’s longest continually-running film festival screens hundreds of films ranging in genres and length and was attended by an audience of over 50,000 people in 2018.

Yet it may be the dedication to proving film can be more than just entertainment and its more specialist festivals (Filmhouse currently hosts 13) which include versatile and eclectic programmes, that make Filmhouse stand out from all other cinemas in Edinburgh.

Unlike the limited selection of films on online streaming platforms and the Hollywood-centric films shown on TV time and time again, Filmhouse digs deep into motion picture archives and screens films which are relevant and relate to current topics.

It houses the Take One Action festival over the course of two weeks in September, showcasing the stories of (small) people making big changes in the world, from female right-wing activists in Greece to victims of the Franco dictatorship seeking justice, to encourage its audience to be the change it wants to see.

For 13 years, the Africa in Motion festival screens films highlighting creative stories from across the African continent which would otherwise not be accessible to most audiences as home and offers a look into worlds very different from our own.

Head of Filmhouse, Rod White, explains how the organisation of such festivals contribute to the continued success of the cinema: “All the festivals we work with exist within their own communities and connect us with audiences we might struggle to attract. We could not be as international and as diverse as we are without them.”

By hosting these festivals, the cinema is also able to challenge viewers to consider the power of film as a media more than any other cinema in the city, or even in the country.

To mark its 40th anniversary, Filmhouse put together a line-up of classics and notable films taken from the programmes of every year since its doors opened, with prices reflecting the prices at the time. Starting in 2016 and finishing up with the film showed at the first public viewing at the cinema in 1978 today with Gertrude, for just £1.

Looking forward to the next 40 years, Michael hopes Filmhouse can continue doing what it has been since 1978: “Filmhouse is great because we offer things you can’t find elsewhere. As long as we can, we want to keep doing what we are doing, and we just want to keep showing films that we believe in.”

 

 

 

Museum of Childhood

A trip down memory lane.

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The Museum of Childhood, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Initially, looking at the impressive facade of the Museum of Childhood, you might feel overcome with giddy enthusiasm as you prepare to take a trip down memory lane. This is as close as you will come to entering a real-life time machine, and into a work of youthful innocence. The museum’s latest exhibit, entitled Growing Up with Books, showcases some of the oldest and most beloved children’s books throughout history.

The new edition boasts a wonderful collection of early works for children including some well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women. All centred around specific themes, many of the books date back hundreds of years. Throughout time,  they have all been loved by generations of children who have grown up to learn important life lessons taught within the pages of their favourite childhood literature.

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Picture of Alice in Wonderland book, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

The exhibition is split into themes such as ‘Worlds of Imagination’, in which you find classic fairy-tales. Interestingly, back in the late 19th century, some of these stories were seen as a danger to the growth of children’s minds as they perpetuated worlds which were fictional and unrealistic. However,  for most children, it opened up a whole new world where they could immerse themselves in adventure and explore the impossible.

Since their publications, they continue to be a popular influence in many childhoods; even today books such as Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865 and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time with an excess of 100 million copies sold, are loved worldwide. Other novels from the late 19th century such as ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ have all sold over 50 million copies, which shows both the longevity and the relevance of the underlying message of these books, which is to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Another theme was ‘Worlds of Knowledge’, in which educational children’s books are displayed, highlighting the ongoing importance of books as a learning tool to help children examine the world around them and develop a healthy curiosity. Sadly, nowadays many children look to the internet rather than books to solve simple questions and explore their curiosities, which often undermines the need for books at all. This section of the exhibit proves why it is important for children to be familiar with books, as it showcases books focusing on science, humanities and religion. These give a fascinating insight into children’s learning and how they developed a relationship with these books as learning tools through notes and scripts within their pages.

“The more that you read. The more things that you will know.” Dr Seuess.

Museum Curator Susan Gardner was able to highlight some of the key aspects of the exhibit and how it developed from the back catalogue of over 16,000 books to the 150 that are on display now. These books are a representation of all key themes such as learning, imagination, growth and identity:

Having spent time with the books they speak to you as they do to all children who get lost in the images of dragons and damsels in distress, misty mountains and ancient castles, thunderous giants and promises of gold and adventure. Yet for adults who grew up reading rather than playing video games or surfing the internet, the exhibition offers a gentle reminder of how these books helped shape and define them as adults today.

 

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