United Kingdom

Menelik Shabazz – Burning an Illusion (1981)

Synopsis
A pioneering first feature from Menelik Shabazz, much of it shot around the Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove communities, Burning an Illusion marked a coming of age for black British cinema. A film about transformation and identity, it is a love story that traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London. It was the first British film to give a central voice to a black woman, charting her journey to emotional maturity, emancipation and political awakening. Read More »

Anthony Simmons – Black Joy (1977)

Based on Jamal Ali’s acclaimed stage play Dark Days and Light Nights, Black Joy tells the story of a naïve Guyanese immigrant who learns the hard way about life on the streets of Brixton. Presenting vivid characters, terrific action, and a superb soundtrack of soul, funk, dub and reggae, Anthony Simmons’ gritty film is an honest and insightful comic drama, exposing the lives of unemployed black Britons and immigrants in a ghettoised London. Read More »

Pawel Pawlikowski – My Summer of Love (2004)

Quote:
In the Yorkshire countryside, working-class tomboy Mona (Press) meets the exotic, pampered Tasmin (Blunt). Over the summer season, the two young women discover they have much to teach one another, and much to explore together. Read More »

Martin Rosen – Watership Down (1978)

A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

Criterion essay:
Watership Down delivers all the stuff of a solid animated adventure. Its visual style is naturalistic, even cautious, but often quietly lovely. There’s clever interplay among the nervous Fiver, the gently heroic Hazel, and the blowhard Bigwig, and there’s some genuinely funny comedy involving Zero Mostel’s extravagantly accented seagull. The climactic battle is ingenious and exciting. General Woundwort is one of the truly scary cartoon villains. That solidity gives us a comfortable place to stand while the story opens up to less familiar terrain. Read More »

Richard Marquand – Edward II (1970)

Words from Ian McKellen
When Toby Robertson, artistic director of Prospect Theatre, decided to revive our Richard II, he thought to accompany it with his own production of Edward II, a play he had previously directed with Derek Jacobi and other Cambridge undergraduates in 1957. I recall he asked Alan Bates, who was busy elsewhere. I may even have suggested myself to play both kings. In 1969 it was still considered an outrageous play, after all, perhaps, the first drama ever written with a homosexual hero. Edward’s death with a red-hot poker thrust into his bowels had been discretely mimed behind a curtain when Harley Granville Barker played the eponymous role. We showed all, as it were, with the aid of a glowing torchlight and dim lighting. Read More »

Terence Young – Too Hot to Handle AKA Playgirl After Dark (1960)

Plot Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
With dialogue ranging from flat to offensive and acting in the same range, this low-brow erotic crime drama by director Terence Young stars Jayne Mansfield as Midnight Franklin, a star stripper in a Soho club that is in serious rivalry with another strip joint. A reporter gets involved in the strip scene while writing a story on the clubs, and in the end he has quite a lot to write about. The competition between the two clubs heats up, and after one of the owners is the unknowing instrument in the death of a young (illegally young) stripper, both rival clubs head for a crash. Read More »

Charles Crichton – Against the Wind (1948)

Brief synopsis
Philip Elliot, refugee Belgian priest, reports to a secret school in London for spies and saboteurs behind German lines. After training, he and two others parachute into Belgium to help destroy a records office. This mission leads to German capture of an important resistance leader; four more agents (Emile, Max, Scotty, and Michele) go in on a rescue mission. But one of them is a traitor; and other things go wrong… Read More »