Thursday 10 May 2012

Who's in charge here?

Deborah Moggach
Deborah Moggach's In Conversation with Telegraph film writer and critic, David Gritten, at St Peter's Centre on Friday, the May Festival opening night, was a knock-out. Funny, witty insights into writing for screen (by no means all about dialogue) with clips from Pride and Prejudice (the muddy hems and hens version), The Diary of Anne Frank and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in a truly distinctive setting, St Peter's Church with its double chancel and no less than three Norman arches, inventively renovated to provide space for events like this, a cafe and a public library in the ringing room where the book signing took place.

David Gritten
Lighting for the event was subdued and low key. Halfway through the evening and right in the middle of one of David Gritten's questions there was the sound of the latch on the heavy outer door turning. A man put his head around the door. We all froze. "Who's in charge here?" he asked. God? BAFTA? Borderlines? were the answers that randomly rushed through my brain. A raid? It turned out to be a car parking issue involving the gentleman's lorry that Emma, the Centre's administrator, was able to resolve but not a bad illustration of dramatic incidence/comic timing.

A similar thought occurred when, after a quick drink at the Pandy Inn where we bumped into members of the audience from another opening night screening, Midnight in Paris at Dorstone Village Hall, I found myself around midnight uprooting a Borderlines road sign from a mound sited conveniently outside Peterchurch Police Station. I wasn't arrested and lived to deploy the sign elsewhere.
Clips from Pride and Prejudice
Set up for the book-signing courtesy of Waterstones, Hereford

Friday 4 May 2012

Showcase for the old, on with the new!

Balmy was a bit optimistic in terms of adjectives but the May Festival starts today and there's talk on the BBC Weather monthly forecast of high pressure for the South and West arriving next week. So, much like the giant Airscreen that will be used for the open air screenings at Berrington Hall, ever buoyant. 

The screen will be here - from a Berrington Hall recce in March
We have accumulated quite a few images from festival past on Flickr but have now assembled a selection in our new Tumblr blog for easier viewing. And the weather in February/March looked amazing!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Resistance Reappraised (in more than three ways)

I've just finished a snazzily titled book, The Mercian Maquis, recommended by Anita, the Flicks in the Sticks promoter at Cawley Hall Eye,  who first told me that the area had had its own resistance organisation in the event of a German invasion during the early 1940s. For a time, the HQ of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Auxiliary Units was Eye Manor, under the command of Christopher Sandford, owner of the Golden Cockerel Press and father of the writer Jeremy Sandford (Cathy Come Home, Edna, the Inebriate Woman).

Anita remembers Jeremy talking about his father warning them never to say anything to anyone if they discovered anything unusual; explosives were kept on the premises and there was a radio mast on the roof of the building to enable communication with HQ.

The book is fascinating on the recruitment and self-contained nature of the patrols (often christened with biblical names such as Jehu and Abdnego, the training methods used, including 'thuggery' techniques of self-defence, the weaponry used including plastic explosives, time pencils, guns, knives, knuckle-dusters and the sheer brutality of what was expected in terms of retaliation. As in Owen Sheers' book and the film of Resistance, life expectancy in the event of German invasion from South Wales was was not predicted to be above 2 weeks.

Coincidentally, some of the training took place at Lyde Court, near Hereford, one of our new May Festival venues, while Shobdon Airfield where we're screening on the weekend of 19/20 May, was pinpointed as a target for sabotage because it was likely site for the invading German forces to take over.

Resistance itself screens on Friday 4 May at the Simpson Hall, Burghill but the Resistance Reappraised programme on Tuesday 8 May at 7.30pm provides the opportunity to view another of the 'what if the Germans had invaded' films only the scenario depicted in The Silent Village is real enough. Directed by Humphrey Jennings in 1943, the events depicted actually took place in Lidice, a mining village in Czechoslovakia, only months before filming started and are simply transposed to ta very similar community, Cwmgiedd in South Wales. The film was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to reinforce solidarity across nationalities which it does movingly and with understatement.

If you're a subscriber to the Borderlines enewsletter, coming up in the next few weeks, (courtesy of sponsors MovieMail) there's a chance to win the DVD of another film that posits what life might have been like in Britain under Nazi occupation, Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's first feature, It Happened Here (1965), made incredibly (for such a mature and thoughtful film) while they were still teenagers though it took years (and stock-ends from Kubrick's Dr Strangelove) to complete. Like Resistance the film has local connections; parts of it were shot in New Radnor and the main character, Pauline, was married to the local doctor.

Finally, another thread leading this time from the 1942 propaganda thriller directed by surrealist-tending Alberto Calvacanti, Went the Day Well? - in which a rural village is infiltrated by Nazi agents posing as British soldiers - to Ludlow Assembly Rooms where it plays on Monday 2 July, following a talk on the secrets of the British Film Industry by BBC Radio broadcaster Dr Matthew Sweet as part of Ludlow Festival.