We’ve opened, we’re here and we’ve got that Ready-Brek festival glow once more.
The Barbican pulled out all the stops yet again, providing the wave – then the crest, on which we surfed for our Gala Opening. Special mention to Tamara Anderson and of course the entire Barbican team – it’s no mean feat hosting our festival!
So as you’ve probably come to expect by now, we opened with a taster of what’s to come in the form of a mini-programme of shorts, followed by the first feature of the fest. The first of these carefully selected shorts was ‘Mount Head’ – Koji Yamamura. Koji will be visiting us from Japan for a Retrospective of his work and to deliver a Masterclass on November 1st. We’re also lucky enough to be able to exhibit some beautifully crafted drawings from his films, which you can find in the foyer of the Barbican’s shiney-new cinemas on Beech Street. Next followed ‘The House’ (David Buob, Germany); ‘The Pub’ – Joseph Pierce (Joseph was a judge for LIAF 2011 so you may have spotted him milling around with us); and finally the award-winning ‘Luminaris’ (Juan Pablo Zaramella, Argentina).
With this tasty starter enjoyed and digested, it was time to serve the main course . Charlie Paul’s ‘For No Good Reason’ is a documentary following the radical British artist Ralph Steadman. It really is a ‘must see’ and if you weren’t able to catch it at our Gala Opening, we urge you to treat yourself and seek it out. It’s all in there – the artistic processes, the Hunter S Thompson story, the heart-felt politics, the ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ days, and more – LOTS more.
The story is largely told via someone you might have heard of – Johnny Depp, who every now and again drops in to see his pal (and hero) Ralph. And so begins a wild and high-spirited journey, a good dose of mayhem, interviews with the likes of Terry Gilliam and fascinating archive footage. There is a very ‘Good Reason’ why we’ve been so keen to bring it to you the day our doors officially open for 2012 – and that is the animated sequences. The film is punctuated by a series of delightful animations by Kevin Richards. Kevin undertook the overwhelming task of animating these works of art, that until now, just hadn’t leant themselves very well to our beloved artform. In the Q&A that followed, Kevin and Charlie spoke of how Ralph’s work always “seems to be on the verge of going somewhere” (referring to movement, not levels of success!) and how Ralph had been approached many times before to animate his work, but for one reason or another it just hadn’t happened.
Well Charlie & Kevin have certainly changed that. Many short animations were created for the film, and some of those that didn’t quite make the cut were shared with us in a fantastic two minute montage. The fact they wound up on the ‘cutting room floor’ is no reflection on the quality – this was really great stuff. More a matter experimentation, a meticulous attention to detail, and an intuitive sense of what does or does not feel right (we’re told these gems will wind up on the DVD extras – bonus!) One animation in particular that was originally created for the film, cried out to be released separately and so ‘Cherrywood Cannon’ was born. We’ll be screening this gem for you in our British Animation Showcase on November 1st.
So on to the guest of honour… We’ve been feeling incredibly humbled by the fact that Ralph Steadman himself, was able to pop along for our Gala Opening Q&A too. A man quick to give credit – he publicly thanked Kevin for his animated interpretation of his work (as well as Lucy Paul – Producer of ‘For No Good Reason’, his wife Anna Steadman, and us – the audience). Ralph shared so many stories with us it’s hard to know where to begin – there were gleeful tangents of spray-painting antics, near-arrests, horrible Head Masters, and tales of his hatred of bullies in all forms. Frankly we could have listened for hours. It is when you see them ‘in the flesh’ that you get to see a genuinely touching relationship that has developed over the years between Ralph and Charlie. They’re clearly really good friends and you can’t help but think that Ralph’s story couldn’t ever have been told by anyone else.
Roll-on DVD box set.