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Morrissey at the Movies: The Films That Saved Your Life

NFTS News

Morrissey at the Movies: The Films That Saved Your Life

A Weekend of Screenings Celebrating the Iconic Singer Songwriter Launches a Programme of Projects by NFTS Curating Students

‘Morrissey at the Movies: The Films that Saved your Life’ is the first of a series of film programmes curated by finalist students from the National Film and Television School’s MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation, which is delivered in partnership with the BFI and led by Sandra Hebron. The season comprises eight exhibition projects, which will take place between August and December 2017.  They range from themed programmes and national cinema seasons to expanded cinema and online initiatives.

Mark Donaldson’s Morrissey celebration is up first and takes place over the weekend of August 12th and 13th at Genesis Cinema, Mile End, London. Mark chose to coincide his event with the release of Morrissey biopic, England is Mine and the programme includes a screening of the film and a Q&A with director Mark Gill.

The weekend will also include a panel discussion to give context to the season.

We caught up with Mark Donaldson to find out more:

Which films have you selected and why?

The Collector (1965) – Saturday 12th August, 1pm

Morrissey chose an image of Terence Stamp taken on the set of the film as the LP cover of What Difference Does It Make? He also listed it as one of his favourite films in the March 1993 issue of Movieline magazine.

Orphée (1950) – Saturday 12th August, 3:40pm

The narcissistic image of Jean Marais asleep next to a reflective pool provided the cover for the LP of ‘This Charming Man’. A poet pre-occupied with death could easily describe Morrissey but Jean Cocteau's film renders this relationship literal.

England is Mine with Q&A with the director, Mark Gill – Saturday 12th August – 6pm

The South Bank Show: The Smiths (1987) – Free bar screening – Saturday 12th August 9pm

Rocco & His Brothers (1960) – Sunday 13th August, 12pm

In an interview with XL magazine to promote his Italian inspired album Ringleader of the Tormentors, Morrissey spoke of his love of the director Luchino Visconti and this wonderful film. Actor Alain Delon was also the cover star of The Smiths seminal album ‘The Queen is Dead’, due for a re-release in October.

East of Eden (1955) - Sunday 13th August, 3.20pm

Shots of Richard Davalos from the set and the film itself provided the covers for Strangeways Here We Come and a two volume Best Of collection. Morrissey wrote to a penpal talking of his ambition to meet and interview Davalos, an ambition which was sadly never realised.

Charlie Bubbles (1967) – Free bar screening Sunday 13th August, 6pm

Listed as one of Morrissey's favourite films, once again in March 1993's Movieline, hardly surprising given it has a script from Shelagh Delaney and is directed by and starring one of Morrissey's favourite actors, Albert Finney. Also, a still of Billie Whitelaw provides the cover art for ‘William It Was Really Nothing’.

A weekend ticket, covering all screenings and events is available for £25 from the Genesis website

What was the inspiration behind the project?

The film England is Mine, which is released on August 4th. I remember hearing that a film based on Morrissey's early life was entering production and being sceptical about whether it could do justice to its subject. I've seen so many biopics in recent years that lack a sharp focus, opting for a cradle to grave narrative which fails to get under the skin of their protagonists. Thankfully, having seen it at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival, England is Mine is not one of those biopics and is a real celebration of what makes Morrissey such a unique artist. As he is someone who is well versed in popular culture, I thought it would be interesting to present a season of films that he loves or that have had some impact on his work as an alternative means of understanding him, through cinema.

How did you go about selecting the films for the programme?

Fortunately, there are a number of dedicated and hard working Morrissey fans who have collated all the films he has referenced in magazine interviews, lyrics and album artwork on fan sites, IMDB and Mubi. Once I'd tracked down those lists, it was a case of whittling them down into my own shortlist of films.

The temptation with Morrissey is to exclusively focus on British cinema, for example Ken Loach, the Carry Ons, and everything in between, but I wanted to provide fans with something they wouldn't immediately suspect. This is why, for example, rather than choose Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey I've gone for her lesser-known and rarely screened Charlie Bubbles which also has the distinction of being the only film Albert Finney ever directed. 

I had decided very early on that I wanted to provide as diverse a programme as possible, and so focused a lot on his interest in French and Italian cinema. It was important to present a diverse programme, in light of recent controversial comments. I want to challenge the perception of him as a Little Englander and celebrate the ways these international titles have influenced the work of a unique cultural icon. We're also hoping to put together a panel discussion to talk about how these films have shaped Morrissey and invite fans to get involved through audience contributions

What are your career aspirations after you graduate?

Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival! But first and foremost, I'm keen to build on my existing industry experience from four years working in both multiplexes and independent cinemas by programming for a venue, using the skills I've learned from the course to strike a balance between screening films the audience want to see and introducing them to those that they never knew they wanted.

What have been the highlights of the NFTS MA so far and how has it shaped your career goals?

The placement within the Film Audience Network with the BFI was an eye-opening experience and taught me a lot about the types of film programming currently taking place across the UK which is invaluable for me as I approach graduation next year. Our partnership with the Korean Cultural Centre was also an incredibly helpful exercise in working with a venue and my fellow programmers to deliver a season of films to an audience, and the various joys and difficulties that you encounter along the way which is a useful primer for my future career as a programmer.

The Film Studies Programming and Curation MA is delivered in partnership with the BFI; applications are open until the 7th September and the course starts in January – more info on how to apply at www.nfts.co.uk/filmstudies