What freedom is… Nina Simone

This is one of the best films available on Netflix. I’m reposting, as a friend of mine saw it recently and was just as profoundly shaken and stirred by it. Totally absorbing.

Comma And

Last night I more or less idly began watching a documentary on Netflix about Nina Simone – and was right from the start transfixed by her words: “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – no fear!”

From those opening comments in “What happened to you Miss Simone?” I was glued to the screen.  One of the words most used by the singer herself is “compelling” – and it fits her appearances.

Musically, she is electrifying: confident, powerful, emotional, unpredictable, distinctive.  Like all great artists in any genre (and this is something someone needs to tell warbly teenage wannabe popstars)

  • she inherited powerful art skills through her family (literature words and performance as her mother was a Bible preacher)
  • has invested depth into her art by years of studying and acquiring classical technique (classical piano study),
  • responding to her times and national culture (Civil Rights),
  • bringing in her most personal…

View original post 453 more words


Russian Revolutionary Art

Occasionally, with very good films, you come away stunned.  On Saturday, I saw “Loving Vincent” and was affected – similarly with today’s viewing of a memorable documentary on Soviet revolutionary art.  I saw a whole range of arts took on vital new forms – as the film tells us the gripping, memorable and mostly tragic tale of what happened next in Russia.

I knew a little about Russian art around 1917, and less about the history, but I now know far more.  “Revolution: new art for a new world” is made by Margy Kinmonth.  I hadn’t seen her work before, but will need to rectify this, as the list of her art documentaries is long and distinguished.  The range of resources and research in this film are vast: previously unseen paintings, artworks which are too precious to leave the country, and interviews with the children and grandchildren of the featured artists.


Starry Starry Night x 2

Within minutes today, I watched “Loving Vincent” and emerged, teary into daylight, to go to a local gallery and see copies of Van Gogh painted by John Myatt.  (John Myatt famously is a gifted artist who can mimic the styles of a huge variety of famous artists.)

Screen shot 2017-11-04 at 17.56.11

Film poster for “Loving Vincent”

Let’s talk about “Loving Vincent” first.  Seems like EVERYbody will have heard of it – the first all-painted animated feature film – although arguably that surely belongs to Disney’s Snow White, 80 years ago?  In the early days of cartoon animation, cels were hand-drawn and coloured.  The difference is that this new film has been painted onto canvases, with oil paints, not onto plastic.

Visual Style

The result is a flickering version of reality, seeing life through Van Gogh’s eyes – at least how he painted it.  And that shimmering, moving sense of surface possibly portrays the excitement and


poetry film connections

You don’t go very far in looking at the arts before realising they are in constant conversation, inspiring one another.  Here is an example of a film/poetry connection – film maker Jim Jarmusch‘s tribute to the New York School of Poets, especially John Ashbery.

More recently, there has been an increase in the working between film and poetry.  That is, films which specifically illustrate or work with poems and visual resources to make something which works in harmony.

You can see earlier posts on film/poem combinations on this website – rather a lot in fact:

Elaine Gaston‘s charming childhood memory poem

Lemn Sissay‘s 3 minute wonder poem

Olympic poetry here and here (Michael Donaghy‘s poem about bicycles)

If this mixture of art forms attracts you and you want to see a serious amount more such works – then don’t miss Alastair Cook‘s website.

BAFTA Guru screenwriting

Screenwriting Tips from the professionals

Ever wondered how other people write the scripts for films and TV? Here’s a 7 minute video of interviews with a range of awardwinning screenwriters, put together by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and without further ado, here it is….

Topics covered

  • What is your writing practice?
  • What do you do in a writing day?
  • Should you write about areas you know about from personal experience?
  • What happens during adapting a book for screen?
  • When do you let other people see what you’re writing?
  • Do you need any script when you’re improvising?
  • Advice for new writers?  (Keep going!  Watch films/tv which has writing you admire)


Writers Interviewed

John Morton (Twenty Twelve, W1A, People like Us)

David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland)

Joanna Scanlon (Getting On)

Ol Parker (The Best Marigold Hotel)