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Remember Revolution

Remember Revolution. Photo by Julian Hughes

Art - Artist Cinema

Remember Revolution

Peter Watkins Retrospective – Film Programme

30 May 2008 - 01 Jun 2008

Peter Watkins is Britain’s most uncompromising political filmmaker of the last 50 years. Nottingham Contemporary collaborated with Broadway Cinema to present a retrospective of many of his most important films. Some of them focus on pivotal conflicts, such as the Paris Commune, the Hungarian Uprising and the Battle of Culloden. He restages them using amateurs (often from the social classes and locations in question), rather than professional actors, and presents the events as if they are unfolding in the present tense.

Culloden (1964) alludes to television reporting of the developing war in Vietnam, for instance. These are ‘histories from below’, told from the perspectives of the ordinary majority whose suffering is often ignored. At the same time, his films expose the way political events are framed and distorted by the mass media. We see the events of the Commune in Paris in 1871 through the anachronistic television cameras of two news crews, for instance, one supporting the Versailles regime, the other the popular uprising. In The War Game, commissioned by the BBC in 1965, but not shown after political pressure, his astonishing realism was applied to events that could plausibly occur in the very near future. Its depiction of nuclear war breaking out in Kent, extrapolated from the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was so shocking that the government covertly forced the BBC to ban it.

Punishment Park (1970) depicts a death-defying game of cat and mouse that convicted political activists of the ’68 generation are made to play out in the unforgiving American desert, tracked by sadistic National Guards. The bizarre atrocities of Guantamano Bay and Abu Ghraib have made the film seem prophetic. Watkins’ work has been a reference point for many international artists who have been developing participatory, political forms of art during the past ten years.

We highlighted this with films and projects by Jeremy Deller, Winner of the 2004 Turner Prize, and Deimantas Narkevicius from Vilnius, where Watkins recently lived. Deller’s Battle of Orgreave was a restaging of a pivotal event in the 1984 Miners’ Strike, enacted 17 years later in Orgreave itself by battle re-enactment societies, as well as some of the exminers and policemen who originally took part. The performance was filmed by Mike Figgis. Narkevicius’s The Role of a Lifetime is a short film featuring landscape drawings and archival footage whose soundtrack is Watkins speaking about his life’s work, its motivations and reception.

Venue: Broadway Cinema, Broad Street, Nottingham

A collaboration between Nottingham Contemporary and Broadway Cinema

Friday 30th May 5.45 pm
Culloden (12)
Dir. Peter Watkins
UK 1964 1 hr 15 mins

Followed by:
The Battle of Or greave (PG)
Dir. Mike Figgis
UK 2002 1 hr

Friday 30th May 9 pm
The War Game (12)
Dir. Peter Watkins
UK 1965 47 mins

Preceded by:
The Forgotten Faces
Dir. Peter Watkins
UK 1960 18 mins

Saturday 31st 2pm
Punishment Park (15)
Dir. Peter Watkins
US 1970 1 hr 30 mins

Preceded by:
The Role of a Lifetime
Dir. Deimantas
UK 2003 17 mins

Sunday 1st June 2pm
La Commune (Paris 1871) (PG)
Dir. Peter Watkins
France 1990 3 hrs 30 mins
With English subtitles

The following films also featured in the Remember Revolution season at Broadway:

Saturday 31st 5pm
ICO Essentials: Protest (PG)
Curated by the Otolith Group this programme m presents icons of 20th Century cinematic protest, in the form of cine-pamphlets, manifestos and film essays. Drawing on aesthetic traditions of critique and provocation, these artists use the radical political art forms of montage, collage and appropriation.

Histoire Du Soldat Inconnu
Henri Storck
Belgium 1932

A Propos De Nice
Jean Vigo
France 1930

79 Primaveras
Santiago Alvarez
Cuba 1969

Die Worte Des Vorsitzenden
Harun Farocki
Germany 1967

Einleitung Zu Ar nold
Schoenberg’s Begleitmusik Zu Einer Lichtspielscene
Jean Marie Straub, Daniele Huillet
Germany 1973

Ilha Das Flores
Jorge Furtado
Brazil, 1989

Saturday 31st 7.30 pm
The Fall (15)
Dir. Peter Whitehead
UK/USA 1968 2 hrs
Widely considered to be Whitehead’s most important film. The Fall is a dazzling montage of resistance and radical images, documenting the turbulent socio-political crisis in the US.

Venue: Broadway Cinema, Broad Street, Nottingham


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