Film weekend at Messums

THE programme for the Messums Wiltshire film weekend, from 21st to 23rd September, ranges from thoughtful documentaries through experimental animations to one of the classics of 20th cinema, all screened in the new cinema room at the southern end of the 700 year old tithe barn at Tisbury.

The weekend is a mini film festival complementing Messums’ Image exhibition, celebrating photography, which runs from 15th September to  21st October. The programme begins with Loving Vincent (2017) on Friday 21st at 6pm, introduced by Tristan Oliver, the cinematographer of Loving Vincent and Isle of the Dogs, which is being shown on Saturday at 2pm.

Loving Vincent is an experimental animated biographical drama about the life of painter Vincent van Gogh and, in particular, the circumstances surrounding his death. It is the first fully painted animated feature. All the characters are performed by real actors either on specially constructed sets, designed to look like Vincent’s paintings, or against Green Screens. The live-action material was combined with computer animation for elements such as birds, clouds and blowing leaves.

On Saturday 22nd, at 11am, On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace is the first documentary by director Heitor Dhalia, following photographer Michael O’Neill as he talks to the great Yoga masters of India, Tibet and New York.

The evening screening at 5pm is Antonioni’s seminal Blow Up (1966), the first English language production by the Italian director. Thomas (David Hemmings) is a nihilistic, wealthy fashion photographer in “Swinging London”. Filled with ennui, bored with his ‘fab’ but oddly-lifeless existence of casual sex and drug use, Thomas comes alive when he wanders through a park, stops to take pictures of a couple embracing, and, upon developing the images, believes that he has photographed a murder. The film also stars Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles (a photograph of whom by Norman Parkinson is featured in the Image exhibition), and the 1960s supermodel Veruschka.

The Sunday morning film is Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul (1974) at 11am. Regarded as one of the high-water marks in German New Wave cinema of the 1970s, it is an intense portrayal of a relationship and a tribute to one of Fassbinder’s film heroes, Douglas Sirk. Emmi, a German woman in her mid-60s, falls in love with Ali, a Moroccan immigrant worker around 25 years younger. When they abruptly decide to marry, everyone around them seems appalled. When people calm down a bit, Emmi and Ali’s relationship grows more uncertain.

At 3pm, the screening of Becoming Cary Grant starts with an introduction by director and co-writer Mark Kidel. For most of his life, Cary Grant, one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, was troubled with self-doubt and insecurity – the result of childhood trauma. In his 50s, reaching mid-life, he took a long course of LSD therapy, hoping to exorcize his demons. Using words from his unpublished autobiography and newly discovered and evocative footage shot by Grant, the film explores the star’s journey from childhood to poverty to global fame, a moving story of a man in search of himself, on a quest to find the love that eluded him for most of his life.

Pictured: Blow Up and On Yoga.