The BFI's August Programme: Teen troubles, Chinese epics, dancing and The Deer Hunter


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A man could bankrupt himself trying to even get a taste of everything the BFI puts on every month. This August is no exception. There are a variety of major cast and crew talent appearing in person for Q&As, including Guy Pearce,  Robert Pattinson, John Slattery and Ann Hui.  There is the continuation of the epic, multi-month Chinese cinema season. To tie in with the WWI centenary, there is a newsreel and shorts programme that recreates what a 1914 cinema audience would see. The Deer Hunter, To Catch and Thief, and The Lady from Shanghai return for extended runs. See what I mean?

Listing everything here is beyond any mortal man, so below are essential links to the key strands playing this month, and the top five highlights from the brimming-with-goodness August catalog.

BFI AUGUST 2014 MAIN SEASONS:

A Century of Chinese Cinema

The BFI's multi month celebration of Chinese cinema reaches the new wave post- Cultural Revolution era. Choice pics include the film that made actor Gong Li's famous internationally: The Story of Qui Ju, and Farewell my Concubine which showcases the work of acclaimed actor Leslie Cheung.

Teenage Kicks

The sweet pains and explosive joys of youth are celebrated in a programme of films about those in-between years. A personal choice would have to be a preview of teen movie collage Beyond Clueless (sold out at time of writing but standby tickets should be available)

Moira Armstrong

Part of the BFI's annual strand examining the contribution made by women directors and writers. Looking like an intriguing pick would have to be BBC adaptation of the Vera Brittan autobiography Testament of Youth, an acclaimed piece of TV in it's day.

Gotta Dance, Gotta Dance!

A two-month season of dance on film. Worth a look: Wim Wender's Pina in 3D if you want to explore how modern filmmaking  technology can work with modern dance.

 

AUGUST EVENT AND SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS:

Extended Runs

Re-runs of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter, Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai, Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. Need I say more?

A Night at the Cinema in 1914

This recreates the kind of programme a 1914 audience would see. A chance to see the kind of archive material that the BFI is duty bound to preserve.

The Rover + Q&A with director David Michod, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

As a fan of Michod's tough, stylish thriller Animal Kingdom, his post-apocalyptic thriller The Rover, which has just played at Cannes, has for a long time been at the top of my must-see list for 2014. Likewise, actor and star of The Rover Guy Pearce has starred in some of my favourite films, LA Confidential and Memento.  That dude from Twilight is coming too? I can put up with him.  

God's Pocket + Q&A with director John Slattery and actor Christina Hendricks.

Roger Sterling from Mad Men made a movie! Apart from the intrigue in seeing how actor John Slattery fares as a director, this is one of the last chances to see the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman on screen.

Preview of Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves

I found Kelly Reichardt's recent film - Meek's Cutoff'- a captivating and beautifully shot film that played around with some of the tropes of the western, and hearing that Night Moves would team her with Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning put this on my must-see list.

BFI Scifi Season Outdoor Screenings.

See here for separate calendar listing on this site for this event- three classics to pick from: Flash Gordon, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and the Bowiesnacktastic The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Chinese filmmaker Ann Hui in person.

A chance to hear from one of the leading lights of the Chinese new wave.

Sonic Cinema presents Beyond Clueless.

Charlie Lyne's essay/documentary/ 'drift work' that meditates on the American teen through the prism of modern cinema post-Clueless. Narrated by an actor who was at the heart of that 90s 'teen' cinema melee: Fairuza Balk.

Discover Arab cinema.

This month's focus is on Lebanon, and includes Nadine Labaki's female-led drama Caramel.

Passport to Cinema from the National Film and TV School.

A look at the works of seven directors who incorporated at an early stage in their careers very distinct stylistic and spiritual influences that had a lasting impact on their filmmaking. The season teams up works from these directors with films that directly connect to their aesthetic and overall approaches. This month showcases Mean Streets from Martin Scorsese, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.