A completely unique film – ten of the world’s most creative directors were given the same brief: choose a piece of opera music and present a visual interpretation of it. The diversity of filmmaking styles resulted in an exhilarating operatic anthology – erotic, violent, funny and poignant.
As well as the celebrated directors, the stills photographers assigned to each were equally famous, among them David Bailey, Annie Leibovitz, Snowdon, Terry O’Neill and John Swannell. The impressive cast list includes John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Bridget Fonda, Elizabeth Hurley, Theresa Russell, Buck Henry, Beverly D’Angelo and Sophie Ward. –Second Sight Films
An iconoclast whose work acutely attacked the conventions of genre filmmaking, Altman both satirized and revitalized such warhorses as the Western, the musical, and the crime drama, waging war on the sterile artifice of mainstream storytelling by creating a singularly sprawling and deliberately messy cinematic world bursting at the seams with sounds, images, characters, and plot lines. Famed for his inventive brand of overlapping (and often improvisational) dialogue and an acknowledged master of modern camera technique, Altman’s quixotic career has been uneven at best, yet he remains a pivotal figure of contemporary cinema, a true maverick responsible for many of the defining motion pictures of his times. Born February 20, 1925, in Kansas City, MO, Altman was educated in Jesuit schools prior to joining the Army at the age of 18; over the course of WWII, he flew over 50 bombing missions in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. Upon his discharge in 1947, Altman studied engineering at the… read more
Perhaps the least lionized of the Australian New Wave filmmakers, Bruce Beresford has developed a reputation for drawing extraordinary performances from his actors, as well as enjoying great success making stage plays work on film. Much-acclaimed for historical dramas of social and moral conflict, he surprisingly first made his name with low comedy, delighting in juvenile scatology that horrified critics while regaling the Australian public. Though he had always wanted to make films, he had to leave his native country to do so, and when England proved inimical, he applied for and got a job as a film editor (and sometime cameraman) in Nigeria, remaining there until the Nigerian civil war broke out in 1967. Returning to England, he secured a position as a films officer for the Production Board of the British Film Institute, but on a visit to Australia in 1971, he found its film community in a state of high excitement over the formation of the Australian Film Commission. Within a matter… read more
The lynchpin of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard was arguably the most influential filmmaker of the postwar era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1959 feature debut A Bout de Souffle, Godard revolutionized the motion picture form, freeing the medium from the shackles of its long-accepted cinematic language by rewriting the rules of narrative, continuity, sound, and camera work. Later in his career, he also challenged the common means of feature production, distribution, and exhibition, all in an effort to subvert the conventions of the Hollywood formula to create a new kind of film.
Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children. After receiving his primary education in Nyon, Switzerland – during World War II, he became a naturalized Swiss citizen – he studied ethnology at the Sorbonne, but spent the vast majority of his days at the Cine-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met fellow film fanatics Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. In May… read more
Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942- February 19, 1994), British film director, artist, and writer.
Jarman’s first films were experimental super 8mm shorts, a form he never entirely abandoned, and later developed further (in his films Imagining October (1984), The Angelic Conversation (1985), The Last Of England (1987) and The Garden (1990)) as a parallel to his narrative work.
Jarman made his debut in “overground” narrative filmmaking with the groundbreaking Sebastiane (1976), arguably the first British film to feature positive images of gay sexuality, and the first (and to date, only) film entirely in Latin. He follwed this with the film many regard as his first masterpiece, Jubilee (shot 1977, released 1978), in which Queen Elizabeth I of England is transported forward in time to a desolate and brutal wasteland ruled by her twentieth century namesake. Jubilee was arguably the first UK punk movie, and amongst its cast featured punk groups and figures such as Wayne County… read more
Francis George “Franc” Roddam (born 29 April 1946) is an English film director, businessman, screenwriter, television producer and publisher. He is married to photographer Leila Ansari and has six children from previous marriages. He currently lives in London.
Roddam’s films include “Quadrophenia”, “K2”, “Aria”, “Lords of Discipline” and “War Party”. He created the worldwide TV phenomenon, “Masterchef”, which is shown in 150 countries worldwide, and there are 20 locally-produced versions. He also produced formats for “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet”, “Making Out”, and “Harry”, all of which were highly successful TV dramas. He directed the award-winning TV drama “Dummy”, which won the prestigious Prix Italia Drama Prize. He directed the Grammy-nominated/Golden Globe nominated US mini-series Moby Dick and Cleopatra. He won awards for his BBC documentaries, “Mini” and “The Family”. He is the founder and Chairman of Ziji Publishing, whose many titles include The Last Templar which sold over… read more
London-born Nicolas Roeg served in the military as a projectionist, and entered the movie industry immediately after World War II as a gofer and apprentice editor. He joined MGM’s British studios in 1950, and eventually became a cinematographer in 1959, working on a multitude of films of all types, from second unit work on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to primary photography on the rock & roll exploitation films Just for Fun (1963), Every Day’s a Holiday (1965), and The System (1966). He moved into the director’s chair with Performance (1970), which he co-directed with Donald Cammell, and made a major impression with the low-keyed, eerily compelling drama Walkabout (1971). By the mid-‘70s, Roeg was one of England’s most respected filmmakers, responsible for the unsettling thriller Don’t Look Now (1973), and the sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). With the possible exception Insignificance (1985) and the compellingly obscure Track 29 (1988) Roeg’s output throughout the 1980s… read more
British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the ‘60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he’d make up his own — frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.
A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969’s Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director… read more
Charles B. G. Sturridge (born 24 June 1951) is an English screenwriter, producer, stage, television and film director.
Sturridge was born in London, England to Alyson Bowman Vaughan (née Burke) and Jerome Sturridge. He was educated at Stonyhurst College. and University College, Oxford. Sturridge married Brideshead Revisited actress Phoebe Nicholls on 6 July 1985, with whom he has three children, Tom, Arthur, and Matilda Sturridge, who all act.
Sturridge began his career as an actor. In 1968 he played Markland in Lindsay Anderson’s film if…. and portrayed the young Edward VII in Edward the Seventh. Directing episodes of Coronation Street, Strangers, World in Action, Crown Court and The Spoils of War by his late twenties, he gained international recognition for the eleven part television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited which won over 17 awards including 2 Golden Globes and 6 British Academy awards.
Since then he… read more
Julien Temple (born 26 November 1953 in London) is an English film, documentary and music video director. He began his career with films featuring the Sex Pistols, and has continued with various off-beat projects.
Temple grew up with little interest in film until he discovered the works of French anarchist director Jean Vigo when he was a student at King’s College, Cambridge. This, along with his interest in the early punk scene in London in 1976 led to his friendship with The Sex Pistols, leading him to document many of their early gigs.
His first film was a short documentary called Sex Pistols Number 1, which set out to show the rise of the band from 1976-1977 in a series of short clips from television interviews and gigs.
This led to Temple making The Great Rock And Roll Swindle, another documentary, telling the story of the band from the viewpoint of their manager, Malcolm McLaren, as band members Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious had left. The film told of the… read more
This collection has a mixed quality. On the one hand, Altman's segment is dismal; Rodman's more pathetic than pretty; Temple's has wit but vulgar. On the other hand, Beresford's is like a shorter, purified version of Blow-Up; Jarman's personal and moving; Sturridge's soothing. The segments of most value are those by Godard and Roeg: these are two serious parodies that reflect an aesthetic truth.
Being totally indifferent to opera, I only watched the Nicolas Roeg section of this portmanteau film. His interpretation of Verdi's 'Un Ballo in Maschera' features his wife, the beautiful and sexy Theresa Russell as.... the mustachioed King Zog of Albania! The King is in Vienna in 1931 and is the subject of an assassination attempt at the Opera House. Barely 12 minutes long, the segment passes by pleasantly enough...
New La Furia Umana, Ben Rivers & Albert Serra in conversation, “Aesthetic Issues in World Cinema”, Scorsese + Pizza + Letterman, and more.