NFTS Curating Student Programmes 'VILE&Unlikeable' Season at The Prince Charles Cinema


NFTS Curating Student Programmes 'VILE&Unlikeable' Season at The Prince Charles Cinema

A Series of Screenings Exploring Our Fascination with Cinema’s 'Despicable and Unlikeable' Characters

(Still from Naked)

“VILE&Unlikeable” is the second of a series of film programmes curated by finalist students from the NFTS MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation, led by Sandra Hebron. The season comprises eight exhibition projects, taking place between August and December 2017. They range from themed programmes and national cinema seasons to expanded cinema and online initiatives.

Andrew Espe’s season exploring our fascination with cinema’s less likeable lead characters begins on Sunday 10th September at The Prince Charles Cinema in London. It starts with a screening of Naked introduced by director, Mike Leigh.

(Director, Mike Leigh)

We caught up with Andrew to find out more:

What was the inspiration behind the project?

“I wanted to create a season that explores why audience members are so attracted to seemingly despicable and unlikable characters on screen, and how our judgment and empathy might change through the course of following them during a film. In many cases, we begin to understand and unwind the complexities of these characters even if onscreen they are making very poor or unpopular choices and see what makes them human. Yet, in some cases, these characters are revealed to be monstrous but viewers may still want them to get away with what they’ve done, or want the best for them. It’s a fascinating psychological journey audiences go on with these sort of characters, and not only do we question the actions of these people  we might even begin to question ourselves and why we enjoy watching these dark stories unfold.” 

Why did you choose each film?

“The programme is organized into three unique sections focusing on three types of characters - the stubborn, the secret, and the monster - and each screening represents one of each section, so to see all three is to greater understand and explore the representation of an unlikable individual onscreen.” 

Naked, Sunday 10th September, 12.30pm (with introduction by director, Mike Leigh)

Naked is an endlessly intriguing film because the lead character, portrayed by David Thewlis, seems to have little to no remorse throughout - he comes in and out of peoples’ lives and tests their patience and endurance. Mike Leigh excels with this depiction of mental instability and London life rebuilding after Thatcher’s reign, without overstating the political messages. This is a  focused and raw film, yet quite universal. The writing is superb and the characters are frighteningly real, and the climax with Thewlis’ character is unforgettable.”  

To Die For, Sunday 17th September, 12.50pm

To Die For is a very enjoyable dark comedy that I find interesting because of Nicole Kidman’s performance - it’s utterly committed to bringing this lead character to life, who (quite humorously, but disturbingly) has no sense of guilt in her journey to stardom and celebrity - and Gus van Sant’s playful direction, slowly building tension without ever losing focus of its study of dangerous ambition.”

The Piano Teacher, Sunday 1st October, 12.30pm

The Piano Teacher is my personal favourite Michael Haneke film, and his direction, combined with Isabelle Huppert’s commanding performance, conjures up a portrait of a private woman whose life spirals out of control. I find it a very compelling watch because on the surface it seems to be a cold film about isolation, but with that comes this unexpected undercurrent of heartbreak - and Haneke throws in his signature dark humour when you least expect it.” 

What are your career aspirations after you graduate?

“After I graduate, I would love to return to film festival programming as well as programming for repertory cinemas. Having said that, this course at the NFTS has seriously broadened my horizons with regards to the kind of work that is done in and around the film festival world. I would love to work with international distributors that bring the best of world and independent cinema to audiences, as well as with sales agents that help find these films and directorial voices a home and support. Having seen many of these companies at work at the Cannes Film Festival when I attended with my course mates, it's inspiring to think of these bold companies seriously shaping the current climate of film culture and distribution - and I want to be a part of that ever-growing process.” 


The pricing is £8 for non-members and £5.50 for members (it’s only £10 to get an annual membership!) Book tickets here.

Applications for the NFTS Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA are open until 7th September for a January 2018 start – more information at